The Cleveland Browns recently hosted 46 local Northeast Ohio high school football players for the NFL High School Player Development Leadership Program, in partnership with the National Guard.
The event featured a visit from Browns coach Mike Pettine, a character-development presentation from former NFL tight end and NFL Player Engagement representative Tony Stewart, a leadership reaction course (prepared and instructed by the Ohio National Guard), and a community service project at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
The NFL High School Player Development Leadership Program is designed to provide high school athletes with a better understanding of what it means to be leaders both on and off the football field, as well as a clearer picture of the importance of good character and education, regardless of their athletic potential.
To be eligible, participants must be a member of their high school football team, hold a 3.0 GPA and maintain at least 90-percent class attendance, as well as exhibit leadership qualities such as teamwork, integrity, dedication and commitment.
"The Leadership Program proved to be a meaningful experience for the 46 athletes representing 28 different schools in Northeast Ohio," said John LaForce, manager of youth football for the Browns. "The Browns are excited to host so many impressive young men who are eager to learn, help others in their community and lead by example."
Lt. Col. Lenny Bornino, commander of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, told the student-athletes, "You are the less than one percent of Northeast Ohio high school football players who were selected participate in this program. This is a credit to you, your parents and your schools. My advice is to continue to pursue life-long learning to set yourself up for success in life after football. And if you want the National Guard to pay one hundred percent of your college tuition, give one of my recruiters a call."
Some of the Ohio National Guardsmen (ONG) received a surprise visit from Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer. The meeting quickly turned into an impromptu two-on-two competition between members of the ONG, with Hoyer playing quarterback.
Since its inception in 2001, the HSPD program has provided participants with a curriculum that focuses on inspiring excellence in the classroom, community, and on the playing field. In 2009, the NFL and The National Guard teamed up through the HSPD program to build stronger communities that create opportunities for all individuals and families to succeed. The Browns support the Greater Cleveland Food Bank's mission to ensure that everyone in our communities has the nutritious food they need on a daily basis. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio, supplying more than 40 million meals in 2013 to individuals in Ashland, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Richland counties.