Dylan Laube has grown up in Westhampton Beach so he knows that summer in the Hamptons brings out the celebrities. But little did the Westhampton High School all-purpose football star know that he would be hanging with one of the A-listers in the summer before his junior year.
No, Laube didn’t catch up on Hollywood gossip with Leonardo DiCaprio, but rather he caught passes from Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who recently bought a home in nearby Quogue after renting in the area for many years.
“It all started with the NFL strike [actually the lockout of 2011],” Westhampton coach Bill Parry said before practice on Monday morning. “The players had two extra weeks off and Eli was out here on vacation and wanted to throw.”
Parry said Manning, who was looking to stay sharp in anticipation of returning to action with an abbreviated training camp that season, had a connection with a Westhampton assistant coach, so a session at Westhampton High School was arranged, which included a couple of players from Parry’s squad. Every year since a fortunate Hurricanes player gets to play catch with a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who might one day make it to the NFL Hall of Fame. Talk about a summer fling.
“Usually it’s during a two-week window before training camp,” Parry said. “Eli will be here every morning, but it’s always at a different time so no one gets a bead on where he is and he doesn’t have to deal with cameras and all the rest of it.”
So while Manning’s workouts weren’t promoted on the marquee of the Westhampton Theater on Main Street with the words “Eli’s Coming,” they were the feature attraction for the young participants.
“It was great. The highlight of my summer,” a beaming Laube said. The 16-year-old wide receiver/running back/safety/kick returner, who is Westhampton’s best player, admitted he posted highlights of his experience on Facebook. “Every ball he threw was spot on and perfect. If you dropped it, he would never blame you but you knew it was on you. I would feel bad. But he was so nice and he always helped us out. It was a great experience.”
A learning one, too, as Manning offered pointers in July to Laube and two former Westhampton High School receivers who are now playing in college. “I got to teach them about running routes versus man or zone and how things could be different,” Manning said after a recent Giants practice. “Hopefully they got something out of it.”
Manning said he certainly did. “It definitely kept me fresh coming into the season,” he said. “I appreciate all the kids at Westhampton High School that came out and ran some routes for me. I put them through some really good workouts, and I appreciate them taking the time, with their schedules, to come out and work some routes. It was great work for me, just to keep my arm fresh, keep it loose and try to work with them a little.”
Laube said catching passes from an NFL star was eye-opening. “When he throws the ball, it’s a beautiful pass,” Laube said. “It’s fast and it’s on target and it makes you better.”
Just another Hamptons Classic.
Tom Rock contributed to this story.