DURHAM — It may have seemed a little off-season, but about 100 youth at Bremner Field were into football on Saturday morning.
The draw on a sunny summer day was New England Patriots alumni, who were on hand to assist staff from St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Mass., with a free football clinic.
The “Football For You” program is offered through the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and it is the first time it has come to New Hampshire.
“There is 50 years of Patriots here that have graced the gridirons,” Donna Spigarolo, manager of the community relations department for the New England Patriots, said.
A total of 11 former Patriots were on hand to help with the clinic, including Tommy Yewcic, a member of the original Boston Patriots from 1961-1967, Len St. Jean, and John Williams from the 1985 team that appeared in the Super Bowl.
The clinic preceded the inaugural New Hampshire East-West High School All-Star Football Game at Cowell Stadium to benefit the Children‘s Hospital at Dartmouth.
Participation in the clinic earned students a free ticket to the game.
About 100 youth between the ages of 11 and 14 participated.
Throughout the morning St. John’s football staff, including head coach John Andrioli, a former Patriot himself, and other Patriots alumni ran students, both boys and girls, through offensive and defensive drills.
To cap the day, former New England Patriot and three-time Super Bowl winner Patrick Pass talked to students about how he entered the National Football League, and how hard it was to get there.
During a Gatorade break, Matthew Graveline, 11, of Litchfield, said he was having a great time at the clinic, despite the heat, and appreciated learning from the players.
“They played in the NFL so we can really trust what they’re saying,” Graveline said.
He said they learned something about nearly every position, including special teams, linemen, running backs and defense.
Matthew and his father, Steve, both planned to attend the all-star game after the clinic, as they knew multiple students participating.
“It is just a good football day,” Steve Graveline said.