By J.T. Whitehouse
The Boardman High School weight room recently received $3,000 worth of new equipment, thanks to a grant from the National Football League Foundation.
It is the second NFL grant Boardman head football coach Joe Ignazio received.
In 2014, Ignazio submitted a grant application to the NFL Foundation to purchase new uniforms. It was part of the NFL opportunity to match a $5,000 donation from former Boardman alumni and current Green Bay Packer center Corey Linsley. The total of $10,000 went towards the new uniforms.
The NFL Foundation is the league's nonprofit organization that represents the 32 NFL clubs. Its mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities that support the game.
Last year, Ignazio learned of another NFL Foundation grant for schools that had players in an NFL Super Bowl game. Boardman had two - Bernie Kosar and Steve Vallos. The school received a golden football for each of those players and also was informed of a grant opportunity the school could apply for. It was all part of the 50th Super Bowl celebration.
After submitting a grant application, Boardman was awarded a check for $3,000 in August 2016, and the new equipment was ordered and received in December. The football team is now in conditioning, using the equipment to stay in shape for football season in fall.
"This is the second grant I have obtained. The first was a matching grant," Ignazio said. "These grants were written specifically by me for football. I sought ways to try to receive them to give back to our program."
The recent grant replaced equipment that was dated back to 2004. Included in the purchase were 65 new stretch bands, seven new weight lifting bars, two hex bars, 12 medicine balls and two compact dragging sleds.
"It was an easy decision for me," Ignazio said. "Our weight room has been a foundation in which we have built our program dating back to head football coach D.J. Ogilvie. It continued under Mark D'Eramo. Our kids take great pride in the hard work that goes into that room. I wanted to give something nice back to them that they would get use out of every day."
The football team is in the weight room 12 months out of the year. The only stipulation is the Ohio High School Athletic Association requires a no contact period 28 days after the season ends.
Ignazio said in Boardman, the team usually begins the offseason program in December. When the season begins, the team will lift two days a week and maintain that through the season. He added the new equipment is not football specific and is available for anyone using the facility.
Ignazio also thanked two Boardman staff memebers who helped secure the NFL grants.
"I am thankful for the help of Principal (Cynthia) Fernback and our athletic director, Denise Gorski. It has been quite rewarding to have the opportunity to have secured $13,000 for things that our program has needed and that our kids deserve over the past three years," Ignazio said. "The matching opportunities are always available through the NFL Foundation. I do not seek out donations from our alumni in the NFL every year. I do seek opportunities like these constantly across other avenues as well. There are other organizations like USA Football that offer similar opportunities."