He played in the National Football League long before they were born, but the Camp Hillel campers who range in age from 8 to 13 took in former New York Jets wide receiver Wesley Walker’s message as if it was a Ken O’Brien pass during a visit on Aug. 8.
Walker, who played for the Jets from 1977-1989, asked the campers, “How do you become a pro athlete?” One shouted back “practice” another said “go to college” and Walker, who has been a physical education teacher for the past 25 years responded, “Yes, an education is important.”
And he drove that point home as he asked the kids, “What happens to athletes?” and the answer he received was that they get injured. He showed the campers where he had been hurt, a left leg injury and told them he is still having surgeries to repair previous injuries.
Born legally blind in his left eye, Walker made up for that disability by being fast, he said, but he also told the campers that he went to school and made good choices. “Don’t ever forget that education is important,” he said. “Make positive choices and positive things happen, make negative choices and negative things will happen.” Pointing out how they behave without their parents around is a good indicator of how they will act throughout life.
Following his talk, Walker tossed footballs to the kids and signed a myriad of autographs on jerseys, T-shirts, hats and helmets. Josh Bellehsen, 8, a Giants fan, wore a Jets helmet and a Brett Favre Jets jersey to camp. “I knew a Jets player was coming,” he said. “It’s cool.”
Last year, Bellehsen performed his Meadowlark Lemon-Harlem Globetrotters imitation and dribbled the ball between former Knicks guard John Starks’ legs.