CANTON, Ohio -- Thursday was a long day for the Charleroi football program, but it is a day that the players will never forget.
They took part in an amazing opportunity they went to the NFL Hall of Fame complex to learn from NFL coaches.
“The day could not have gone any better, it was an amazing learning experience for our players, our staff and myself,” Charleroi football coach Donnie Militzer said after the activities concluded. “This is something that we will be able to remember the rest of our lives.
“What a great day, we got a lot of work in and I am happy with how our guys competed.”
Charleroi took part in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy along with almost 50 players from international countries to learn from former NFL coaches, including former Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, wide receiver guru at the NFL and collegiate level Charlie Collins, and former NFL defensive line coach Ted Cottrell, who recently enshrined Bruce Smith into the Hall of Fame on the very same grounds.
This is the first year that international players took part in the academy, with the international players ranging from 16-20 years old.
Charleroi left its parking lot at 6:15 a.m. and arrived in Canton at 9:10.
After hearing from the speakers, including recruiting guru Gary Howard, the players headed out to the practice field to work on drills in stations with their teammates and international players.
After the players received two hours of instruction, they were treated to lunch before going back to the practice fields for a pair of 7-on-7 games against the international players.
Charleroi won the first contest 26-11 and the second 18-6.
After the second game, Collins shared great advice with the teams.
“Take what you have learned today,” he said. “It’s not what you didn’t do, it is what you learned.”
Rich McGuinness, the general manager of the football and basketball divisions of Legacy Global Sports and the man instrumental for selecting Charleroi, shared how impressed he was with the Cougars after their showing.
“This was historic as we have never had a U.S. team come in and play an international team and we chose Charleroi to play based off of how they performed in 7-on-7s,” he said. “Donnie runs a first-class program with quality kids and high-character kids.
“There are going to be hundreds if not thousands of teams who want to follow in their footsteps to come in for a day and train a little bit with pro coaches.”
“This has been amazing and an honor to be here,” said senior Jake Stefanick. “The coaches taught us to tighten some things up.”
Legend Davis appreciated the experience.
“It was cool because I was able to get a lot of experience that I have always wanted to have,” the sophomore said with a grin. “It is a great honor to be here and I feel that have gotten better.”
Ryan Workman detailed his day.
“This was really something,” said senior Ryan Workman. “We faced new players, learned a lot and got to go against some talented players.”
“We were able to meet new people and play against them,” said Cam Carter. “The NFL coaches taught me a couple of techniques at receiver and defensive back and it will help me in the future.”
After the on-field activities concluded, the Charleroi entourage was given complimentary entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and pulled out for home at 6:15 p.m.
Their charter bus pulled in at 8:40 p.m. and Militzer was still excited.
“What a day,” he said. “This is something that is going to help us and we had a great time as well.
“And the support of our parents is amazing, as we had so many Charleroi fans there.”