Jerry Csaki is celebrating 22 years of overseeing the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s youth and education programs. He is an alumnus of Alliance High School and a graduate of the University of Mount Union.
He and his wife Nikki have three children, Wesley, 14, Wyatt, 11, and Silas, 1, and the family has a dog named Charlie.
“I graduated on May 14, 2000, and began my full time employment at the Hall of Fame on May 15, 2000,” Csaki said. “One big reason I got this job was because of my sport business professors at Mount Union, Dr. Jim Thoma and Dr. Jim Kadlecek.”
In 2021, Csaki said there were nearly 44,000 participants nationwide who took part in the Hall’s programming. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Youth & Education Department is committed to empowering youth around the world. Programs provide inspiration and encourage young people to achieve Hall of Fame success on and off the field.
“Our best work will yield a new generation of character, courage and compassion. The objective is to create young men and women of nobility, integrity and honor who are inclusive of all races and religions and prepared to respect, and, if necessary, defend, those who are weaker or different than themselves,” Csaki said.
“This future generation shall make families stronger, communities closer, companies more competitive, our country greater and the world a better place to live. It will be a positive and passionate generation of perseverance, excellence and love.”
Describe your position as the youth education program director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
My role is to develop, direct, and promote the Hall of Fame youth and education programs.
What’s a typical day like?
We have a team of three that handles all the day-to-day responsibilities for the Youth & Education Department. One teammate oversees all of our onsite programs like our traditional field trips and our highly popular Get-Fit Training Camp presented by Panini, which takes place for two weeks each May at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. This year, we have nearly 6,000 students and teachers registered to participate in this camp.
Another teammate oversees our national outreach programs, like Heart of a Hall of Famer, which requires some traveling. For example, he just got back from Las Vegas. We led a national program from a school in Las Vegas with Hall of Famer Rod Woodson during the NFL Draft.
As for me, in addition to overseeing all of our programs, a big chunk of my day during the school year is spent connecting to classrooms across the country via Zoom and Google Meet. In 2021, we connected with 756 groups that represented more than 21,000 students from 33 states, as well as Canada and Hungary.
During the summer, my focus switches to our Enshrinement Week programming, which includes the annual Play Football First Play event presented by Panini, where we line up more than 3,000 youth from downtown Canton to the front steps of the Hall of Fame to kick off the celebration for the week.
What kind of activities does the Hall of Fame provide for the youth program?
We offer a wide range of programs. Some include traditional field trips, virtual field trips, college programming, character programs, camps, online resources, teacher enrichment days and many youth-focused events during Enshrinement Week powered by Johnson Controls.
Share your personal thoughts when it comes to getting youth involved with sports-related events and activities.
When we look at the number of our youth who love the game of football, it makes sense to use this game to motivate and inspire our young people. That is why we use the game of football to teach different curricular areas like science, social studies, language arts, careers and character.
What better way to teach a fifth graders about a zig-zag movement than watching a Barry Sanders highlight or seeing the science behind a Dwight Freeney spin?
In addition to all this, we give teachers 17 opportunities to connect and interact, either in person or via Zoom, to our Hall of Famers through our Heart of Hall of Famer series connected by Extreme Networks. This series aims to inspire young people to achieve Hall of Fame success on and off the field.
Since the series began, we’ve connected more than 100 Hall of Famers – Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis and Jerry Rice, to name only a few – to nearly 100,000 students nationwide.
What are a few of the non-sports-related activities you participate in or places you like to visit around Stark County?
I’m a lifelong resident of Alliance, so most of my activities take place around there.
I’m very active in my church at Alliance Christian Center and ministry at the University of Mount Union through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I also serve on the Sport Business Advisory Board at the University of Mount Union.
But when it comes my favorite places to take my family, without a doubt Handel’s Ice Cream is at the top, and we also love to walk through Silver Park. We live close to the park, so we are there often. Another place we love to go is Beech Creek Botanical Gardens.
Editor’s note: Five questions with … is a Sunday feature that showcases a member of the Stark County community. If you’d like to recommend someone to participate, send an email to [email protected].