Hometown honor in Nashua planned for NFL's Reyes
San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes (91) celebrates his sack of New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy (14) during the the season. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of the University of Connecticut by the San Diego Chargers, Reyes is traveling from California today just for the event.
Reyes' mother, stepfather and two aunts will be in attendance as the 23-year-old graduate of Nashua High School North is honored for being one of the few Nashua athletes to make it the major-league level of professional sports.
In his first season with the Chargers, the 6-foot, 4-inch, 300-pound defensive end recorded 28 tackles, including 5.5 sacks.
But Reyes isn't coming back to Nashua just to be honored by the club. According to Bridget Cooley, director of marketing and special events at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, Reyes will meet with organization leaders to discuss ways he can support youth initiatives in Nashua.
"It's really great for someone who has been successful as a professional athlete to want to be involved in his home community and think of the kids first," Cooley said.
Cooley said Reyes spent much of his childhood at the Boys and Girls Club "hanging out and playing pickup games in the gym." Even as a teenager and star high school athlete, he frequently could be found at the Grand Avenue facility hanging out with friends and shooting hoops or playing dodgeball.
Having an alumnus of the Boys and Girls Club make it at such an elite level sends an excellent message to the children currently in the program, Cooley said.
"I think it's fantastic to see somebody who was a regular club member growing up in Nashua to be able to realize their dreams as a professional athlete playing the most popular sport in America," she said.
During tonight's event at the club, five other inductees will be honored for their service to Nashua and the Boys and Girls Club. Donald Norris, the club's first board president, Ellen Arouchon, a 40-year volunteer, Donald Winn, another longtime volunteer, J.W. Williams, a veteran and current wrestling coach, and Alyssa April Cotreau, a swimming coach, will all be inducted along with Reyes.
The evening is also designed to present the Youth of the Year award, which recognizes a young Nashua resident for contributions to the community. The winner will be eligible for the state title and its accompanying $1,000 scholarship.
The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua serves more than 3,000 children ages 5-18, according to Cooley. She said children are taught by the program to value giving back when they get older, a value she said Reyes clearly learned.
The event is scheduled to run from 6-8 p.m., with tickets costing $25 per person. For more information, contact the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua at 883-0523.