NY Jet Eric Smith tackles for charity

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THE QUEENS COURIER/Photos by Natasha M. Velez
Autographs were just one of the benefits of Smith’s visit.THE QUEENS COURIER/Photos by Natasha M. Velez
Autographs were just one of the benefits of Smith’s visit.

In an attempt to help at-risk youth, New York Jets starting safety Eric Smith partnered with the After-School All-Stars on Tuesday, October 25.

Smith came to I.S. 192 in Jamaica to speak with students about the value of education. After-School All-Stars New York Chapter is located at St. John’s University and Executive Director Alan R. Fields, accompanied by Laura Burlacu, who represents the New York Chapter, were also present.

The program is not solely focused on students as athletes, but the enforcement of academics, enrichment, and physical fitness.

Smith explained he’d been trying to find a foundation to get involved with since he joined the league, but couldn’t find anything that interested him.

“When I heard about this, I knew it was something I should do,” he said.

This is Smith’s first year partnering with After-School All-Stars and with every tackle he makes, Smith will donate $100 to the program.

Last season, Smith topped out at 43 tackles. With only seven weeks in, he’s at 25 tackles thus far. As Smith’s tackle record continues to rise this season, the After-School All-Stars Program will reap the rewards of his partnership.

The funds will be allocated to schools that participate in the program to improve and enhance the activities available to students afterschool.

Principal Harriet Diaz was alongside Fields, who coordinated the event.

In a Q&A session held in the auditorium, a large crowd of students greeted Smith with a seemingly endless round of applause, loud cheers and posters that welcomed him to the school.

“What are some major pointers that you would give students who want to play football?” Raymundo Hyman, a sixth-grader, asked Smith.

Smith answered, “A really important pointer is to make sure you do your school work. Because if you don’t have the grades, you can’t play.”

He added, “We had some guys in high school that were better at football than me, but because they were failing all their classes, they couldn’t play. They never had the opportunity to keep playing football. Second, get out there and play as much as you can. The more you play, the better you’ll be.”

Burlacu, who assisted in event coordination efforts, asked Smith for his take on bullying in schools.

“It’s something you’re going to have to deal with all your life. If someone pushes you or says something you don’t like, just be the bigger person. Just remove yourself from the situation,” Smith answered.