Andre Tippett at 'Football For You' clinic in Worcester, Mass., on Saturday, June 13 at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.
WORCESTER, Mass. - After four straight years bringing the joy and discipline of football to inner city Boston, the New England Patriots Alumni Club (NEPAC) held its first-ever 'Football For You' clinic in Worcester, Mass., last Saturday, June 13 at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium, in partnership with the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.
The camp, which was attended by approximately 85 boys and girls ages 12-14, featured 14 former Patriots sharing skills attained during their days on the gridiron, but the highlight of the day was that coaches from every Worcester high school team were there to get to know the kids.
"This is the picture perfect program in our eyes, all these kids are about to enter high school. With coaches from every Worcester high school and players from every program volunteering here to welcome these kids to the next level, we really hope it will help each team as much as it helps the campers. We couldn't be happier with the way the camp took shape," said Donna Spigarolo, NEPAC Coordinator. "These kids got to see that football is fun and rewarding, and the coaches at their future high schools were the ones ushering them in alongside the pros."
]()"This is a great bridge for these kids," noted one Worcester coach in attendance. "Many of these kids are going to have a tough time finding jobs this summer, so if just a handful of them made their minds up to devote their time to football this summer, we're keeping them off the streets."
It's obvious that NEPAC and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation hope to continue to expand the program to bring football into the lives of inner city youth across New England. The two biggest lynchpins to the program's success seem to be former Patriots linebackers Andre Tippett and John Andreoli.
]()Tippett, the Executive Director of Community Affairs for the New England Patriots Charitable foundation, called the shots at the event, which is obviously very near to his heart. After the event drew to a close, he gathered all the young men and women at midfield to share some of the life lessons he garnered over a 12-year career with the Pats that landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August.
Andreoli, who was on the Pats roster with Tippett in 1984, is now the Head Coach at St. John's of Shrewsbury. His entire coaching staff attends every 'Football For You' camp to make sure things run smoothly and the kids get as much out of it as possible. They provide the voice of camp-coaching experience. Andreoli personally reached out to all the Worcester coaches in attendance, so he's the link to the programs that need to get these kids out from in front of the television and into helmets and shoulder pads over the coming years.
The two 'backer brothers are obviously still friends, some 25 years after they met in the NFL.
"We've got to tip our hats to Colleen O'Brien, the Director of Athletics for the City of Worcester schools," said Tippett. "She reserved us this outstanding facility, and helped us wrangle up all this equipment for these drills, not to mention the fact that she helped us get almost a hundred kids to come out on a hot Saturday for a first-time event."
The 'Football For You' camps are all finished for the summer, but it seems likely to continue next year. Many local parents approached Spigarolo, Tippett, Andreoli and the other organizers on hand after the camp wrapped up to express their gratitude and hopes that everyone would return again. It seems 'Football For You' has the capacity to touch everyone involved, which is a testament to the great charities backing it. Even as all the organizers finished packing up and headed home for the evening a dozen or so campers were still scampering around Commerce Bank Field in a game of touch football.