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Accountability For Life program setting athletes up for success

The program at York High School is run by Russell Stoner, the Bearcats' football coach. Stoner hopes to equip his athletes for success as they go to college.
Credit: Accountability For Life

YORK, Pa. — A mentorship program at York High School, called Accountability For Life, is arming students with the tools they need to not only be successful on the field, but in school and life as well. 

York football coach Russell Stoner implemented the program after his first year, and takes an old-school approach to teaching athletes how to be a good people.

“When you start talking about the accountability for life part, you know, it’s not just me it’s every coach,” Stoner tells FOX43. “If you’re doing it right you’re making sure that your kids are doing things the right way and that’s, they’re going to school, they’re doing good in class, they’re being good citizens, and for us being a good dude is sort of what we hang our hat with.”

Stoner is a mentor to his athletes both on and off the field. He started Accountability for Life, or AFL, to set his athletes up for success after high school as well as to help serve the York community.

Members of the AFL do community service, get SAT prep, and other mentorship from other community members. 

Athletes must be invited to the program and meet certain requirements, such as striving towards a higher GPA. 

Joden Nelson tells FOX43 he’s seen a lot of growth in his teammates since they’ve joined the program. 

“We all basically hold ourselves to, like, a higher standard now than we did before Accountability For Life was as big as it was,” Nelson says.

Some of the “old school” approach that Stoner takes includes the basics. This includes the “pleases” and “thank yous” and holding the door open for people.

But it also includes other skills necessary for interviews or taking the next steps professionally, such as public speaking and learning how to send proper emails to college coaches or employers.

Nelson says that he’s had a lot of fun in the program, especially with their service projects, which includes volunteering with Hopewell Fish and Game. These projects also help expose athletes to new experiences they may not have had otherwise. 

Stoner hopes that the program will continue to grow and helps instill these valuable lessons to more and more athletes. He’s had almost all of his graduates go on to complete college and play football or get jobs in their local communities.