Mark Sanchez is chipping in to help his old high school fly to New Jersey for a football game.
His alma mater, Mission Viejo (Calf.), is slated to play Don Bosco Prep, ranked No. 1 in the nation, on Sept. 10 at Don Bosco's 10,000-seat stadium. The trip is costing more than $125,000, with all the money coming from donations and fundraising efforts, according to Jeff Maass, the Mission Viejo booster club vice president of special events.
The biggest corporate donor is Continental Tire, but much to the delight of the school and the booster club, Sanchez made a matching donation, Maass said. Initially, the plan was for Sanchez to do a promotional appearance to help raise money, but he decided to go beyond that. Maass declined to give the figures, but it's believed the Jets' quarterback donated about $20,000.
"Mark has been huge for us," Maass said Thursday in a phone interview. "His donation made things a whole lot easier. He's always been very supportive of his alma mater."
This won't be just a football game. The Mission Viejo traveling party (75 players, plus 25 coaches and staff members) will arrive Sept. 5. They will practice at Princeton, West Point and, yes, at the Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J. In between practices, the team will hit the usual tourist attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street.
It should be a terrific football game. Mission Viejo, coached by well-known quarterback guru Bob Johnson (Sanchez's old coach), is ranked among the top teams in California. It will be televised by ESPN.
Sanchez has remained close to his alma mater. In fact, he held the "Jets West" lockout practices at the Mission Viejo football stadium, with Johnson helping out.