POINT PLEASANT CHALLENGER LEAGUE NOTEBOOK
EAST RUTHERFORD — For the third straight year the Point Pleasant Pirates Challenger football team, members of the Point Boro football team and friends and family made their way to East Rutherford to visit the New York Giants training camp on Sunday, Aug. 11.
The day started with a bus ride from Point Boro to watch the Giants practice and ended with a visit from their friend and New York quarterback, Eli Manning. The Pirates were also visited by Golden Tate, Monmouth University alumnus Reggie White Jr. and many other first-year Giants and rookies.
“I don’t know the words to how you would even explain something like this, but it’s pretty amazing,” Pirates head coach Dan Richards said. “To have our kids come up and leave a lasting impression on NFL players, it’s a pretty special feeling.”
Heading into the camp, the bus ride from Point Boro to the Giants training facility across from MetLife Stadium was filled with anticipation and high energy as the Pirates prepared to see some of their favorites.
Once the bus pulled into the Meadowlands, the Pirates were escorted to their seats and then onto the field, forming friendships with new and old Giants. There was also a reunion between former Monmouth Regional Falcon Isaiah Searight and educator Lynne Landis and her daughter, Brittany, who plays for the Pirates.
“It’s pretty cool and it never gets old seeing all the smiles, hugs and laughter this brings these kids,” Richards said. “The kids can’t wait to be the first in line to see them.”
The relationship between the Point Boro-based squad and Big Blue started with a phone call made by Pirates dad Barry Ruggerio transformed into Manning reassuring Pirates coach Guy Voelbel he could never forget the Pirates.
“Having him [Manning] remember us was pretty exciting and pretty memorable,” Richard said. “Overhearing him say to Guy, ‘I remember you guys from last year,’ and hearing that statement it’s amazing. He’s the one key player for the Giants that we have seen every year.”
Aside from watching the practice and meeting some of the best to put on the red and blue, the relationship shared by the Pirates and the Giants is about more than just football. It gives an opportunity for players from all levels to connect and share their love for the sport.
“We’re showing the Giants who the Pirates really are,” Jordan Serra said. “We’re teaching people around the world that people with disabilities can play sports.”
The Giants camp trip has also become a signal to the beginning of the season as the Pirates took the field for their first practice the week before. Gearing up for their first game, Sunday, Sept. 1, the Pirates will begin this season’s saga against the Point Boro Panthers and the Point Beach Garnet Gulls on Al Saner Field at Point Boro at 9 a.m.
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