Photo by Peter G. Sánchez
Eagles players Akeem Jordan and Moise Fokou, cheerleaders, and mascot Swoop pose with Camden Catholic student-athletes on Shamrock Field on Monday. June 7. The Cherry Hill school is the recipient of an NFL Grassroots Grant to help cover the cost of Shamrock Field’s artificial playing surface called Sprinturf. Below, Fokou and Jordan run drills on the field, showing the students how it’s done.
CHERRY HILL — On Monday, June 7, Camden Catholic High School here with its Shamrock Field was the recipient of a $200,000 National Football League Grassroots Grant, in support of the school’s efforts to provide a safe playing surface and promote the health and well-being of its student-athletes.
Last year, the school installed an artificial field called Sprinturf, in place of natural grass, allowing for better drainage, and for six of its sports teams (football, field hockey, mens’ and women’s lacrosse, and mens’ and womens’ soccer) to utilize the field.
In a partnership that includes the NFL, NFL Players Association, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Grassroots Program has awarded more than $28 million in grants over 12 years to local nonprofits dedicated to the health and welfare of their communities, particularly youth. The program also has resulted in the construction or renovation of 225 football fields nationwide, in the past 12 years.
The 3 p.m. press conference, with student-athletes, school officials, and parents in attendance, saw Joseph Banner, president of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Mark Edwards, executive director of LISC’s Philadelphia Office, along with Eagles mascot Swoop, and Eagles cheerleaders, present the $200,000 check to Msgr. Andrew Martin, president of Camden Catholic.
Expressing his “deep and hearfelt” gratitude for the grant, Msgr. Martin called the day “a special, happy moment” for the school and its desire to “continually improve opportunities to our students.”
Noting that the school’s sports teams are “an integral part of our mission and ministry,” Msgr. Martin elaborated that sports values of teamwork, dedication, and physical fitness “are vital lessons that reach deep down, in the fabric of life.”
“There is no more deserving, worthwhile, and dedicated” school than Camden Catholic, praised Edwards, adding that his office poured over thousands of applications, in deciding who should receive the grant.
After the press conference, Eagles linebackers Akeem Jordan and Moise Fokou tried out the turf on Shamrock Field for themselves, running the schools’ student-athletes through drills, all the while providing encouragement and support.
With a check and encouragement from the NFL and its professional athletes, the school’s athletic youth seemed to feel emboldened, realizing that with a little shamrock and a lot of hard work, dreams can be achieved.