As a kid growing up in Colorado, Steamboat Springs football coach Mark Drake often answered, "I want to play in the NFL" when asked about his future plans.
After college, he spent three weeks in a Denver Broncos mini-camp as a free agent punter and defensive back.
Upon his release, however, Drake moved to Steamboat to pursue a teaching and coaching career that has spanned approximately three decades.
In early April, Drake received a letter that brought back memories of peewee football, of junior high and high school football, of college ball at Western State and of his short stint with the "big boys" in the NFL. Drake was selected by a state panel of football leaders to represent Colorado in the NFL Youth Football Summit from July 31-Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio, home of the NFL Hall of Fame.
The summit coincides with the 2003 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Celebration and Hall of Fame Game, seen on ABC's Monday Night Football.
Drake, a lover of everything football, couldn't be more excited.
"It's someplace I've always wanted to go," Drake said. "To be able to go there and take part in the summer summit and seminars and so forth and to meet the inductees is going to be awesome. I feel very honored that I got selected. The adrenaline is going and all that."
More than 150 youth and high school football coaches and administrators will participate in clinics, educational seminars and roundtable discussions chaired by former NFL players and coaches, youth medical experts and motivational speakers.
The NFL is covering Drake's primary expenses for the celebratory weekend, including airfare, ground transportation, lodging and meals.
Drake isn't sure what to visit first. Late Steamboat Springs resident Doak Walker is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, so his bronze likeness is a sure stop for Drake.
"You can spend hours after hours there when you are a football fanatic," Drake said.
This year's NFL Class of 2003 consists of Marcus Allen (Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs), Elvin Bethea (Houston Oilers), Joe DeLamielleure (Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns), James Lofton (Green Bay Packers, Raiders, Bills, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles) and Hank Stram (coach-Dallas Texans, Chiefs and New Orleans Saints).
This year's Hall of Fame Game held in Canton will be a rematch of Super Bowl I between the NFC's Packers and the AFC's Chiefs.