More than 30,000 high school football players, including my own son, will focus on character development, life skills and on-field techniques from May through August as part of the NFL High School Player Development (HSPD) program which is presented in partnership with the National Guard through the NFL Youth Football Fund.This program, which began in 2001, has provided a curriculum that focuses on inspiring excellence in the classroom, community, and on the field.  The program is free and will be implemented at more than 150 sites in 36 states this spring and summer.  (For information on a site near you, please visit's face it, we all know that student athletes who aspire to take their talents to the next level face a lot of competition. Getting that college scholarship goes beyond being a star on the field and includes academic excellence and character.  The character development and life skills portion of the program often features guest speakers and discussions on life after high school.  Students will also take part in a session on player safety, including concussion treatment and management, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).This is the third year the National Guard has sponsored the HSPD program. During each session, members of the National Guard will speak to participants about personal development and community service.On the field, the program will focus on fundamental skill development by position, reviews and individual competitions. As part of the on-field training, players focus on both an offensive and defensive position, and eventually take these fundamental skills to live drills.  Coaches are also provided support throughout the program.I look forward to seeing how participating in this program helps my own son grow not just on the field, but as a successful, contributing individual.