Award-winning coach

Colorado, NFL honor Steamboat football coach Mark Drake

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Mark Drake enters his 30th year as head football coach at Steamboat Springs High School after a summer spent collecting awards.

Drake's latest honor was the Ed Lesar Award, presented by the Colorado High School Coaches Association at its Aug. 1 banquet.

The Ed Lesar Award is presented annually to a football coach in recognition of his excellence and contribution to the football coaching profession. Member coaches vote on the award.

"When it's your peers, you feel good about it," Drake said. "It's a nice award, but you are still in it for the kids."

Former Sailors running back Tom Southall, a 1981 Steamboat graduate, received the Ed Lesar Award on Drake's behalf.

Drake was unable to attend the CHSCA banquet in Denver because he was in Canton, Ohio, taking part in the NFL Youth Football Summit.

In early April, Drake received notification that he had been selected by a state panel of football leaders to represent Colorado at the summit, which took place July 31-Aug. 3 in Canton, home of the NFL Hall of Fame.

The youth summit coincided with the Hall of Fame Enshrinement and Hall of Fame Game.

Drake said the weekend spent in Canton, his first visit to the Hall of Fame, was too rich an experience to describe.

He visited the bust of Doak Walker, late Steamboat Springs resident and Heisman Trophy winner, and met NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Drake said it was easy to see why football is growing in popularity at all levels of the sport because of the NFL's commitment to its youth programs.

Topics discussed at the summit included injury prevention and sports first-aid practices, demonstrations on handling coach-player relationship issues, using technology, and tips on inspiring youth and high school football players to achieve their greatest potential.

"We have more than 1,600 players on our NFL rosters," Tagliabue said in a news release. "They have one thing in common. They received guidance from high school coaches. The youth football summit is one way that we can offer our resources on an annual basis to help maintain the quality of coaching throughout the country."

The Steamboat football team opens the season Aug. 30 against Sierra High School in Colorado Springs.

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