Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado recently paid a visit to the varsity football team and he noted that not much has changed since he went was a member of the Gladiators.
“Not that I sat there and inspected everything but when I saw guys wearing (silver with blue stripes) pants that they wore when I played, it’s kinda ridiculous,” he said, while eating lunch at Monday afternoon. “That should not be happening.”
Together with former teammate Tom Dluginski, Salgado is starting a new type of Gladiator fund, one specifically dedicated to purchasing new equipment for the players, sideline gear such as sweatshirts and hats and rehabilitating a lackluster playing field.
“It’s the same field that I played on,” Salgado said. “We used to call it astro-rock when I was playing there because there was brick coming out of there... it needs to be redone, it needs field turf.”
The estimated cost to rehabilitate the field to a professional level is about $50,000.
When asked about what he thinks let to the supposed neglect, Salgado said that “it’s like anything else, you have money and you want to focus on a certain area and sports are going to come last sometimes because academics comes first, which is nothing wrong with it but you’ve got to have a balance.”
Dluginski and Salgado were both members of the 1983 New Hyde Park team, the last squad to go undefeated, putting up a perfect 9-0 record while only allowing 13 points over the course of the season and taking the Rutgers cup in the process. Dluginski’s son is also the quarterback on the team for the 2012 season. It was the senior Dluginski who first started the initiative, creating a Facebook page for the football alumni of New Hyde Park Memorial and asking for help.
“When I saw it I decided to pay a visit to the school,” Salgado said. “So I paid a visit to the team, I spoke to the team and I knew there was an issue with money so I donated $200 to start it off, just so I could show the other guys in the group that I care and I’m trying to support.”
More checks have followed, but Salgado says that they want to keep the exact monetary goal “under wraps because, there’s never enough.”
New football equipment typically runs into the thousands and most must be replaced each year because of the severe amount of wear by the sport’s very nature. “We’re no where near where we need to be,” Salgado said.
While Salgdo’s company, Coastal Advisors, which provides insurance to celebrities and , typically has him traveling all over the country, it also affords him numerous clientele connections, including Scott Ferrall of the “Howard Stern Show” on Sirius XM Satellite radio.
“So we went on there and we talked about it... so we’re doing everything possible to help the school out and the football team out,” Salgado said.
While he can also reach out to just about any apparel company to make a deal for the equipment, “it’s just a matter of first you’ve got to have some sort of money to pay for it before you go to anybody. So as we get the money in, we’ll figure that, we’ll sit down with the coach and go from there.”
Salgado also plans to bring the issue to the attention of the number of alumni who are scheduled to be at the September 21 game against H. Frank Carey.
“We want to make this thing and bring it where it needs to be,” Salgado said. “When you have a good field and you field a good team then you’ll have a problem with the bleachers, right now we need to worry about the field.”
Donations can be made to the Gladiator Football Fund, 15 South Tenth St., New Hyde Park, NY 11042.