ELLSWORTH — A free three-day National Football League High School Player Development Program will be held July 27-29 at Ellsworth High School for incoming freshman through senior players and coaches from Ellsworth, Sumner, Bucksport and Mount Desert Island high schools and Washington Academy.
Co-sponsored by the NFL and the National Guard, the three-day clinic is built around a practice plan designed each year by a different NCAA Division I football program — this year, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
The program will emphasize safety and concussion awareness, character development and life skills, and football fundamentals, says Ellsworth-Sumner coach Duane Crawford.
The teaching materials are provided in advance on DVDs and will be presented by coaches from the high schools involved and from Maine Maritime Academy.
“We just facilitate those,” said Crawford. “There’s no guessing, no making stuff up as you go along.
“The NFL is really big on wanting young players to understand that academics and character development come first,” he added.
“Football can provide a lot of things, self-confidence and discipline among them,” said Crawford, “but the academic side of things is so important.”
A member of the National Guard also will provide a presentation on character development during the three-day clinic. There also will be sessions on concussion awareness, sportsmanship, time management and leadership in addition to plenty of on-the-field instruction and drills.
Each participant will be taught football fundamentals for one offensive and one defensive position.
“It’s a great way for coaches and players to go into that hands-off period [before the start of the high school season] with some great skills and drills that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” said Crawford.
The daily clinic sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the high school, and participants are encouraged to arrive early on July 27 to register if they’ve not already done so online (yfbca.org/nflhspdne).
Participants must provide a medical waiver signed by their doctor, said Crawford, and players should contact their coaching staff to obtain helmets and shoulder pads for the training.