Atlanta Academy Event February 25-27, 2022, at Carrollton High School
Elite 11 is the premier quarterback (QB) competition founded in 1999 that has garnered the attention of hundreds of universities as the place to gauge potential recruits. Elite 11 was founded upon the values of philanthropy, character development, and athletic improvement. Since its founding, Elite 11 has had such NFL stars as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Jared Goff, and more participate in its elite competition. Not too mention, other notable Elite 11 alum include 26 of the starting 32 NFL starting QBs and 14 of the past 15 QBs that have earned the prestigious Heisman Trophy.
Elite 11 began as a competition taking place in various regions of the United States to the nation’s top high school QB talent. As time progressed though, Elite 11 rolled out a program dedicated to the development of players both on and off the field. The Elite 11 Academy events are three-day events that allow younger players (for the 2022 events, the Academy is open for all QBs in the Class of 2025-2028) to develop and learn QB-specific athletic skills and leadership and character development as a player and person overall.
2022 ELITE 11 ACADEMY 1-DAY EVENTS
In this past Atlanta event on February 25-27, 2022, at Carrollton High School, Gratitude and Service was the overarching theme integrated into every aspect of the camp. The theme was established to the campers at the onset of camp and unified all curricula both on and off the field.
Overall character development also took place at the camp. Such character development included football chalk talk, leadership, empathy, community service, respect, the importance of a warmup, NEGU, philanthropy and service, the importance of having a support system, the importance of time management, and how it feels to be in an NFL QB room.
Cade Spinello also Zoomed in to share his journey and story of battling cancer and surviving a life-altering stroke at a young age.
And, as Tribal break-out groups, two questions were discussed of: “What does empathy mean to you?” and, “How are you going to positively affect your huddle back home?”
Elite 11 Academy: Gratitude and Service
Campers were coached and guided through a rigorous curriculum of athletic skill and personal character development. Campers were organized into Tribes where each one was offered the opportunity to speak and lead the group, a unique skillset required to lead their teams back home. Here they discussed football chalk talk, leadership, and the meaning of empathy. These Tribes also served to emphasize the importance and principle of communicating in group settings, paralleling their teams
Campers were also guided through Justin Hoover’s propriety warm-up routine that he used throughout his career from high school through college and now in the NFL. The Academy’s staff stressed the importance of a solid warm-up routine, and how beneficial it is for long-term growth and longevity overall for a developing QB.
Vikings Assistant QB Coach, Jerrod Johnson, took the campers on a virtual tour of what it feels like to be in an NFL QB room.
And, in the final talk of the second night of camp, “Kitchen Table” talk (talk where everyone sits at a table as a family to have a meal and discuss the day’s events), the two questions of, “What does empathy mean to you?” and, “How are you going to positively affect your huddle back home?” These questions gave the players another opportunity to publicly speak and communicate in another group setting.
In addition to the above curricula, campers were also shown two videos: the All State Good Hands Team announcement that aired the night of the NCAA CFB CFP National Championship and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award announcement that aired right before the Super Bowl.
Both the Good Hands Team announcement and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award are awarded to those eligible and/or nominated who display exceptional community service. Andrew Whitworth earned the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his donations to supporting housing in Louisiana and to grant wishes in the Make-a-Wish foundation to name only a couple of good deeds he has done in his career.
These videos showed and instilled the lesson that helping out a fellow community member is paramount as a community is nothing but a bigger form of a team. Everyone needs teamwork whether they know it or not.
The campers listened to Trent Dilfer’s Beyond the X’s and O’s podcast discussing Brett Favre’s philosophy of knowing the name of and respecting everyone in the building.
At the conclusion of the podcast vignette, campers were guided through an exercise where they were instructed to place a grade on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most important on each individual at their school from their principle to their teachers to their Left Guard to their Head Coach to their janitor. Each camper was instructed to place that grade next a total of 15 individuals on a list.
After each camper had graded their list, the group was asked to raise their hands as to how many put a 10 next to every individual. Around 40% of the campers raised their hands. These hands showed that the lesson was learned in that every individual is important. Everyone has their own story, everyone is leading their own life, and everyone is important in their own right. In every aspect of life, including the jobs no one wants to seem to do, are vastly important for the overall health, sanity, and welfare of a society.
Because a QB is a Captain of the team by default of the position, the campers listened to Tom Brady speaking to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, where he related how the single greatest accomplishment of his career was being named Captain by his teammates in two consecutive years. At this point in his career, Brady had already won 4 Super Bowl Rings.
Because of the impact that a Captain can have on others, and the fact that even Tom Brady felt it was the single greatest accomplishment of his career, campers were instructed to write down a take-home message of: “Make an attempt to be the Captain of everything you do. Whether it’s football, basketball, the chess team or the band.”
Making an attempt to be the Captain of everything one does instill the campers the sense that they are not just players, they are people and can have an influence on those around them. Elite 11’s lesson opened their eyes to the fact that respect can and will carry them far throughout their career and lives.
Cade Spinello is a 16-year-old battling Pilocytic Astrocytoma cancer and survived a life-altering stroke when he was a young child. He absolutely adores the game of football and even has attended UCLA games and practices in his home state of California. He also loves superheroes with Super Man being one of his ultimate favorites.
He Zoomed into the Atlanta February 25-27, 2022, event where he discussed how QBs have a superpower to encourage, inspire, and influence everyone around them.
What Spinello said is indeed true as QBs are often looked to for guidance and motivation when the odds seem fully stacked against a team. They are often looked to in tough times as they are seen as standing taller than their peers.
Spinello supports the Jessie Rees Foundation at NEGU (Never Ever Give Up), a non-profit organization of Orange County, California. They raise awareness for childhood cancer and also played a vital role in the development of Elite 11 Academy’s curriculum of philanthropy and service. His Zoom session impacted the QBs in ways that they can only just begin to understand but will take with them wherever they go.
The campers listened to another Trent Dilfer podcast on Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon relating the importance of having a support system that will love them during the peaks and valleys of their QB journey.
After the podcast, the QBs were tasked with thinking of all the people in their life that had made sacrifices for them to be in the position they are now. Then, the QBs were given a “Thank You” card to compose a handwritten, solemn, and sincere thank you to any one of the special people in their life that had made a sacrifice for them.
This lesson stemmed directly from the overarching theme of gratitude and service. Not only did the QBs give gratitude in written form, but they had to provide a service of delivering the card to that special someone. The reaction that special someone will give to the QB will implant itself deep inside the mind of the young QB.