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Peters surrounded by greatness

Pro Football Hall of Fame

August 09, 2011|By Julie Buehler, Daily Pilot
(Courtesy of Mike…)

Sometimes dreams are never realized simply because they are never believed to be possible. For Alipa Peters, a defensive end on the Estancia High football team, possible should never again be in question after he spent the weekend in Canton, Ohio with Pro Football Hall of Famers, his coach, and the Legacy Leadership Project.

Estancia football coach Mike Bargas became aware of a mentorship program looking for young men with leadership potential who needed a little push, a little education in believing that dreams can be realized. The Legacy Leadership Project teams up with the Newport Sports Museum and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and pairs high school football players with Hall of Famers to help the young men expand their boundaries and expectations in life.

When the program graced Bargas' desk, he immediately thought of his soft-spoken, talented big man, Peters. At 6'2" and pushing 270 pounds, Peters' large frame belies the senior's understated demeanor and difficult circumstances. Bargas recognized his player's potential and new there was fertile ground to sow some seeds of potential.

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The process began in late April with a nomination letter from Bargas and essay from Peters, and as Peters made cut after cut from the numerous other nominations, Bargas kept downplayed the big kid's chances.

"I told him we have about a two in 60 chance to win this," Bargas said after he was told Peters made the short list.

On July 5, the coach and player were treated to Hall of Famer, Ron Yary stopping by the school to announce Peters' acceptance into the program. That would be the first of a series of interaction for the young man and great men.

As part of the program, Peters, Bargas and three other young men are granted access to the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies even beyond that of the national press. Through the weekend, the young men share dinners, lunches and stories with the greatest players to play America's favorite game.

One of the days in Canton, as Peters was seated next to an empty chair between another participant in the program, enjoying lunch, a yellow jacket stuffed with broad shoulders walked up to the chair, "Is this seat taken?" the gray-haired man asked. And like any good football fan, Peters did not deny Hall of Fame coach John Madden a seat at the table.

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