Local coach attends NFL youth summit

17 years ago

Stu Wyckoff, one of the founders of Aroostook Football, spent two days in Canton, Ohio recently, honored as Maine’s representative to the National Football League’s seventh annual Youth Football Summit.     Wyckoff’s trip was made possible as he won a competition based on an essay submitted explaining his coaching philosophy, views on working with teens and reasons for why he should be selected. Only one coach from each state in the United States and the District of Columbia was chosen. In addition, 21 former NFL players now coaching high school football attended.
Wyckoff reported that this was one of the most amazing experiences he has had. “I was stunned that I was selected in the first place because we are not an official high school program. I was even more amazed to find that so many of these career coaches and NFL players were impressed with and interested in what we are doing up here in northern Maine. I was told on several occasions that we have a program that we can be quite proud of. I guess the NFL thought we were official enough to pick me.”
Attendees at the conference heard about a variety of topics such as proper conditioning, prevention of steroid and other drug abuse, managing heat and proper hydration, communication with players and parents, first aid and injury prevention, character development, leadership and helping players achieve their greatest potential both on and off the field.
“I learned so much,” Wyckoff said. “The speakers were outstanding. Even more educational for me were the sessions in which I got to compare notes with coaches from all over the U.S. who have years of experience and with men who played football in the NFL at the highest level.
Being a lifelong football fan, he had the opportunity to spend time with many players he once watched on television, including Terry Metcalf, Boomer Esiason, Mark Keel, Cedric Jones, Marlin Briscoe, Charlie Brown, Greg Bell and Dave Robinson.
Other highlights of the conference included a private tour of the NFL Hall of Fame and a dinner reception to conclude the event.
“It was a real treat to be able to tour the Hall in the company of players who were able to share with me private insights about the players enshrined in Canton,” Wyckoff said. “I was also amazed at how many of these men view their roles primarily as educators for life; more than once I heard the statistic that only four percent of high school players play in college and only one percent of those go on to the NFL.
“Based on those figures, the best coaches seem to feel their main task is to help prepare their players to win at life, not on the football field.”
He said the knowledge he gained will be shared with Aroostook Football coaches and players.
“I wish every coach had the chance to attend this event. I know we are going to incorporate a lot of what I learned into our program,” Wyckoff said. “In particular, the NFL has a program called High School Player Development that is about life skills, time management, critical thinking and decision-making. I hope we can create an actual course for all our players based on this.”