CANTON Glancing out his window, Pete Fierle said he sees Hall of Fame Village continuing to advance “at warp speed.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s chief of staff was fired up Thursday over the launch of a component he said will be “unique and very world class.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy is scheduled to land in the Village in two months. About 250 elite high school players from around the country will be trained on three fields scheduled to open soon. Two more fields are on he way.
“Long story short, we’re building America’s best football training in Canton,” said Academy director Rich McGuinness. “We want to inspire players to work hard and be great. You can’t pick a better place than the Pro Football Hall of Fame to do that.”
McGuinness has been a trend setter in training young players and is the creator of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
He marvels at what Hall of Fame Village looks like already and is supposed to become.
“Canton has been inspiring me every day,” he said. “It’s like watching Rome get built.”
The Academy will recruit high school and junior high players.
“We’re going to get a chance to train what I believe are America’s best athletes at a very elite level,” McGuinness said. “We’re also going to have a chance to train any other football player who wants to get better.”
How additional programs will take shape is a work in progress. The goal is to saturate the fields with activities and to attract thousands. Fierle said booking prospects are booming.
The Village is preparing for what is being called a Game Changers Session for elite players July 10-13. Its coaching staff will feature Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson.
“What better place to have a camp for high schoolers and youth across the country than where the best players to ever put on a helmet have their busts?” Woodson said Thursday. “A lot of good things are happening in Canton.”
The camp advertises the latest in technology and coaching methods. The staff includes former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche and NFL coaching veterans Chuck Bresnahan, Howard Mudd, Steve Hagen, Scott Brown, Pete Metzelaars, Kurt Gouveia and Will Sullivan.
An emphasis will be placed on “Hall of Fame values,” a nod to steering players away from pitfalls that have waylaid such players as Johnny Manziel.
“Sports can teach you a lot of good things,” Woodson said, “but sports can also teach you a lot of bad things if you let it. It’s our job as coaches and mentors to the young athletes who are coming to this camp to emphasize doing what’s right every single day.”
This summer’s Academy activities are more than a test run.
“We expect to do as well as we can this year, and really get excited for 2017,” McGuinness said, “because 2017 is going to be a much bigger year for hosting a lot more athletes.”