Hundreds of excited children scurried across the turf at McKenna Field on the campus of New Rochelle High School Saturday a beehive of pint-sized, purple-shirted aspiring football players invited for a day in the sun by hometown hero Ray Rice.
Ray Rice Day attracted more than 600 third to eighth grade kids from all over Westchester County and as far as the Bronx and New Jersey for football instruction and an audience of old friends, teachers, neighbors and fans that looked to catch a glimpse or take a picture with the former New Rochelle High football star and Baltimore Ravens running back.
Ed Ciraco, a 14-year-old budding football player from Mamaroneck, came from his hometown to learn the game from his Florida hero.
We did a lot or tough drills, a good workout, Ciraco said. It was hard work out there. Ray Rice is a great player. You have to work very hard to be good and thats what I want to do.Despite the scheduled format that dictated clinics, meal times and eventually a picture-taking and autograph session that precluded was meant to keep fans from mobbing Rice, the smiling star running back spent several hours roaming the two playing fields at McKenna Field, often moving along the fields fencing to speak to kids, parents, old friends; anyone who got his attention.
Im going to get in trouble for doing this Im going to do autographs later, Rice said as he stopped for photos and to sign footballs. All right, this is the last one. Okay, just one more.
Rice stopped for one last question before moving to another field and a picture session with some of his Rutgers teammates who were assisting at the event.
This never gets tired and neither do I, he said with a smile. Its about handing it down to the next generation. Giving kids a smile and telling them to do things the right way. This is not just about New Rochelle its people from Mount Vernon, the Bronx, New Jersey. Im the biggest kid here and its a great opportunity to give back.Rices mother Janet Rice, a teacher in the New Rochelle school system, beamed as she talked to friends and helped with the event.
In one word this is overwhelming, Janet Rice said. Seeing the way the kids and everyone here responds to Ray and supports him is so wonderful. Ive always been a person that told my children that if they work hard and put study first, they will succeed. Ray worked hard for everything he has. Im just so proud to see how many people are influenced by him. I feel like he's all part of me. It makes me feel so blessed.
The event was present by The Journal News' High School Sports.net. with the sponsorship of the New Rochelle Youth Tackle Association, Wells Fargo Bank, F.A.S.S.T, WFAN Radio, WHUD Radio, Doral Arrowwood, Modell's Sporting Goods. 22, Zico, The Iron Tomato, FSG, Eatery on North Avenue and The GYM.
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