Ocean Township named a field after Kenny Pickett, a former township high school standout who is now a Pittsburgh Steeler. Officials and residents attended the ceremony Friday.
By WILLIAM CLARK
The parking lot of the Ocean Township Gym was filled last week with the number 8. It was on the front and back of black jerseys and blue jerseys. It was on balloons that framed the podium. The number was everywhere in the crowd of people looking forward to seeing the number 8 take the field for the Pittsburgh Steelers this coming season.
Hundreds of people came to support Kenny Pickett as the township honored the new NFL quarterback by naming the West Park Avenue field after the former Ocean Township High School Spartan.
The new sign displays both Pickett’s name and a quote from him.
“One day I want to say I made it,” the sign reads.
Mayor Chris Siciliano held a brief presentation where Pickett was given proclamations from Monmouth County and the state of New Jersey, presented by County Commissioner Director Tom Arnone and Sen. Vin Gopal respectively.
In addition, former Oakland Raider and New Jersey native Phil Villapiano addressed the crowd, offering congratulations and words of encouragement to Pickett.
Pickett was generous with his time, signing autographs for the crowd of children who circled him after the unveiling.
“It reminds me to always give back,” Pickett said. “I mean, every kid out here was smiling and having a great time and that’s what it’s all about. I’m really grateful.”
Pickett will spend the next few weeks at home training and getting ready for his first NFL camp. The Steelers report on Tues., July 26 so Pickett will be making the most of the next few weeks by getting some time at the beach and seeing people before the season.
Pickett returns to the city where he spent his college career and says he has a straightforward goal for his rookie season.
“My goal is to get on the field,” he said. “Can’t do anything without getting on the field. So I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to put myself in the best position.”
If he does, he will have plenty of people in Ocean Township rooting for him to succeed.
Dylan Meseroll of Oakhurst was in attendance with his little sister Cameron and mom and dad.
“He’s a good role model,” Dylan said. “He’s really good at throwing and running the ball.”
Dylan and his sister both brought home mini footballs courtesy of the township.
Siciliano said the township was happy to provide mini footballs and tee shirts to the kids in attendance. The items were made available from the community celebration budget and the mayor commended the work of Community Celebrations Coordinator Jen Nordstrom.
Pickett was the 20th overall pick of this year’s NFL draft and the only quarterback to be selected in the first round. The Steelers open their regular season schedule in Cincinnati on Sun., Sept. 11 and will play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford Sun., Oct. 2.