Hall, NFL kick off Kickstart with Mustangs

CANTON, OHIO — Midd-West High School is an inaugural beneficiary of the Kickstart program, launched by the Pro Football Hall of Fame with support from Nike, Riddell, Wilson, USA Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.

The “Kickstart” program will develop football in communities across the country and is geared toward communities that express a passion and desire to play the game.

“Football is more than a game. Competing in football teaches an individual about values such as commitment, teamwork, dedication and perseverance,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said. “These virtues learned from the game make a person a better citizen of their community. The Hall of Fame is honored to help lead the Kickstart program that will ultimately result in making communities across this country stronger.”

The Kickstart program begins with Midd-West High School in Middleburg. Neither Midd-West nor its predecesors, Middleburg and West Snyder, had football teams. For the past 16 years, Midd-West students have played as part of a cooperative agreement with East Juniata High School. The co-op ended last fall.

The Steelers, Nike, Wilson, Riddell, USA Football, the National Federation of State High School Associations and its member association, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, with financial assistance from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, have committed to provide jerseys, helmets, facility renovations and additional resources to help Midd-West kickstart their football program.

In addition to equipment and uniform donations, during the Play Football Skills Camp hosted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL as part of the 2018 Enshrinement Week, a check for $70,000 was presented to Midd-West High School Superintendent Rick Musselman and Coach Brad Hatter.

In addition to the Hall of Fame providing financial assistance, several NFL partners have joined forces to support and grow the game of football at the high school level and provide various forms of assistance to remove access barriers. Nike will provide new uniforms, Riddell will supply smart helmets and protective equipment, Wilson Sporting Goods will contribute footballs, USA Football will provide equipment grant funding and the Steelers will provide financial support and have enlisted assistance from local partners to build the program.

NFL Vice President of Youth and High School Football Natara Holloway said, “We are thrilled the Hall of Fame is launching the Kickstart program in collaboration with NFL partners … to begin working with high school football programs in local communities. In communities all across America, football is more than just a game. The NFL and our partners remain dedicated to making the game of football more accessible to everyone and connecting the football community.”

“Our whole community including students, parents and faculty are extremely excited to be working with the Hall of Fame … to bring football back to Midd-West High School. It was incredible to see how the whole community responded when they thought our students wouldn’t be able to play football,” he said. “From booster parents to local businesses and even the local pastor, everyone stood up to help these kids have an opportunity to play football.”

Midd-West is scheduled to open the season Aug. 24 at Marian Catholic, then has its home debut a week later against Blue Mountain.