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Coach headed to Hall of Fame

by: Vern Uyetake, West Linn football coach Ron Chappell will experience one of the highlights of a lifetime this weekend when he gets to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Chappell and 50 other coaches from around the U.S. will be guests of the NFL during this week’s induction festivities.

Visiting the professional football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, was on Ron Chappell's list of things he wanted to do in life. After this weekend, the West Linn High School coach can cross that off.

It should be quite an introduction to the Hall of Fame for Chappell. He will receive a private tour of the hallowed grounds, hobnob with former inductees and even sit in on the induction ceremony for the class of 2006.

'I've never been, so it's pretty exciting,' Chappell said.

All of this was brought about when Chappell was selected to represent Oregon at Canton for the sixth annual NFL Youth Football Summit. Fifty-one coaches, one from each state plus the District of Columbia, will fly into Canton for a weekend of educational sessions and to enjoy the festivities.

Chappell was picked after filling out an application where he provided a résumé and essays on his coaching philosophy but he never really believed that he would be selected.

'I filled it out on a lark. I've never really done anything like this before. It's a nice surprise,' Chappell said.

The event kicks off on Thursday when the coaches will have summit meetings. During this time, Chappell will meet the other coaches and listen to current hot topic issues that are impacting high school football programs today.

They will also have the opportunity to listen to an impressive slate of guest speakers who, in the past, have included NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and elite college coaches.

On Thursday evening, a private reception also will be held for the high school coaches at the Hall of Fame and a private tour will be given.

Then, on Friday, the coaches will attend a dinner at the Glenmoor Country Club hosted by the NFL.

'They're keeping us pretty busy,' Chappell said.

As part of this year's induction ceremonies, close to 80 current Hall of Famers will return to Canton for the ceremony and Chappell will have an opportunity to meet a number of them.

Chappell is particularly looking forward to catching up with Dave Wilcox, a Hall of Famer with the San Francisco 49ers who grew up in Chappell's hometown of Junction City, Ore.

'I've been in contact with (Wilcox) and he's going to introduce me to a bunch of guys he knows,' Chappell said.

On Saturday, the official induction ceremony for the class of 2006 will kick off. This year's inductees include Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, John Madden, Warren Moon, Reggie White and Rayfield Wright.

Chappell will attend the ceremony but will have to leave midway through the festivities so that he can get back to West Linn in time to run his annual youth camps at the high school.

'I'm looking forward to the whole experience. Just the chance to meet these other great high school coaches and Hall of Famers and to represent the community on a national stage is exciting,' Chappell said.

This fall will mark Chappell's 12th year as the head coach of the Lions' football team. Prior to that, he spent eight years as the head track coach.

Official summer practices are slated to begin soon for the Lions, and the team's first game will be on Sept. 8 at home against Benson.