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Local athletes participate in pilot NFL program

Posted Mar 30, 2013

Fifty high-school football players from the Northeast Ohio area participated in a pilot program with the NFL and the Ohio National Guard.

On Friday, the Cleveland Browns partnered with the NFL and the Ohio National Guard to host a pilot program, the NFL High School Player Development Leadership Program, for 50 high school athletes from the Northeast Ohio area.

After an introduction from new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, the participants listened to character-development presentations from NFL Player Engagement officials Tony Stewart and former Browns kicker Matt Stover, in the morning. The NFL and Browns partnered with The Ohio National Guard on a leadership reaction course during the afternoon session. Between those sessions, the 50 athletes and members of the Ohio National Guard left the team’s Berea training facility and headed to the Cleveland Foodbank for a community-outreach activity.

“For the Browns to be one of the first organizations to host this really is an honor,” said Matt Yunker, manager of youth football for the Browns. “We have worked hand-in-hand with the NFL through the High School Player Development Program and this is simply an extension of the great relationship we have with each other.”

The NFL High School Player Development Leadership Program was created in an effort to give high school student-athletes insight into becoming leaders on and off the playing field. The Program was designed to enforce the importance of character and education.

Eligible participants in the program had to be a member of their high school football teams, with at least 90 percent attendance and a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. They also had to display the qualities of teamwork, integrity, dedication and commitment in order to attend the day-long event.

“Every athlete was nominated by their coach or a school administrator, so it speaks volumes as to their leadership ability,” Yunker said. “What’s great is to see them interact with athletes from other schools who they have never met before. The lessons they learned will certainly be something they can take back and share with the rest of their teammates.”