Alums give back to Campus Magnet football
Campus Magnet football coach Eric Barnett knew that citywide budget cuts instituted by the Department of Education would affect his team prior to the start of the 2011 PSAL season.
The Bulldogs would have to make due with a smaller roster of 40 players, down from 60 in 2010, because there weren’t enough funds to buy helmets for every player.
Barnett was happy to find out this spring that former Campus Magnet alumni, who graduated from the Cambria Heights school when it was known as Andrew Jackson, was going to give back to their school.
The current Campus Magnet squad was presented with a $3,000 check at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens on Saturday morning. The money will go for the Bulldogs to buy new helmets. The presentation was made before Campus Magnet scrimmaged Samuel J. Tilden.
“At one time we had 110 helmets, but because of budget cuts we just don’t have it. We paid for helmets, one or two them out of our own pocket,” Barnett said.
The money was donated by a group of alumni, which includes NYPD Inspector Corey Pegues, NYPD Detective Patrick Blanc and Patrick Strickland, a 1985 graduate who runs BBE 4 Life, a high-end security service for celebrities.
The PSAL, in conjunction with the New York Jets, pays for each team in the PSAL to get 30-35 helmets reconditioned for the upcoming campaign. The Bulldogs won’t have to worry now if they are short of helmets, or if some break during the year and can’t get it replaced.
“This year I’m glad the alumni was able to step up and purchase some extra helmets so these kids continue to participate and we don’t have to keep the numbers down,” Barnett said.
Pegues, a 1987 Andrew Jackson graduate, has known of the situation for a while. Pegues had sent his son Diquan to the Springfield Rifles, a youth football program of which Barnett is a board member.
The NYPD inspector wanted to give back to the team that also included his son, now a junior outside linebacker on the Bulldogs.
“This is a top school and a top football program,” Pegues said. “They don’t have t-shirts and shorts. I went and printed up 50 t-shirts to give to the kids, gave sweatpants. We’re there to try to help them and alleviate some of this stress and pressure off them.”
Blanc had no hesitation to help out the football team. He was a 1986 graduate who had enjoyed his four years in the program as an offensive guard and outside linebacker.
The 18-year NYPD veteran was more than pleased to reach out and make calls around city and throughout the country to former alumni. His mission is to keep the players on the team and off the streets.
“We came up with the motto of leave no kids behind, raise a helmet. We were able to reach out to the Queens community and get the money,” Blanc said.
“I don’t look it as Campus Magnet, or Andrew Jackson, it’s a school in our community,” he added. “If they need help, we need to do what we have to as a community to make sure this school gets what it needs.”
Strickland, who is the bodyguard for R&B singer Chris Brown, wasn’t present at the donation announcement, but Big Boy Entertainment spokeswoman Sheree Gibbons said he wanted to help any student-athlete get the chance to succeed.
“He’s very passionate in giving back to the community. He’s gotten certain opportunities and he wants to now give back,” Gibbons said
Campus Magnet linebacker Asaikie Blake, one of the few returning starters on a young and inexperienced squad, said the team was inspired by the good deeds.
“It means the world to me to see my alumni come out and support us,” Blake said. “We still have someone who loves us and cares about us, it makes us play harder.”