For Richard Salgado, raising money for a field turf surface at New Hyde Park Memorial High School is just an opportunity to give back.
Salgada, a former offensive and defensive lineman for the Gladiators in the early 1980 who earned the name “Big Daddy” during his playing days, recently began an effort to rally former New Hyde Park Memorial High School football players to raise money for the school following a recent visit to his alma mater.
“It’s a small school and they have too many teams using all this field,” Salgado said.
Salgado, who attended the University of Maryland on a football scholarship after graduating New Hyde Park Memorial, said he started a Gladiator Fund with fellow alumnus Tom Dluginski to raise the $50,000 he estimates will be needed to put down a new playing surface.
“We’re trying to raise some money to help my alma mater out. This is a great way to give back to the community and the school that gave me my high school education,” Salgado said.
Salgado, who sells insurance to professional athletes, recently presented a $200 check to the team to get the ball rolling.
Salgao said he is currently developing a fundraising game plan with Dluginski, whose son is the Gladiator’s back-up quarterback this season. They’re also hoping to be able to purchase new shirts and caps for the New Hyde Park coaching staff.
That plan will likely include a pitch to members of the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.
Umberto Eco, owner of Umberto’s Risorante & Pizzeria, was the first New Hyde Park businessman to put money up for the project with a $500 contribution. Eco has a connection with Salgado through the New York Giants, who get a weekly pizza delivery from Salgado of Umberto’s pies each Friday for their post-practice lunch.
In February, the deliveries included a trip to Indianapolis to help feed the Giants before their Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots.
Salgado and Dluginski both have fond memories of playing for the 1984 Gladiator team that went 9-0 to win the Rutgers Cup trophy as the top team in Nassau County in their senior year.
“When I went on the field for that football team, I didn’t think we could lose,” Salgado said.
Now his goal is put current and future generations of Gladiator footballers on a firmer footing to revisit the team’s glory days.
New Hyde Park’s home game against local rival H. Frank Carey squad on Friday night at Michael J. Tully field will provide the setting for Salgado’s first fundraising event.
E-mail invitations have been sent to the growing network of Gladiator football alums and “Big Daddy” will be on hand to pass the helmet for contributions.