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Hampton senior Bello learns leadership at NFL event

Tony Bello, an upcoming senior at Hampton High School, poses with Spencer Tillman, a former football player and current CBS Sports analyst, at the second NFL/Wharton Prep Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In a unique partnership between NFL Player Engagement and University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, Tony Bello was able to pursue two of his interests in a four-day leadership conference this summer.

Bello, an incoming senior at Hampton High School, joined 36 student-athletes from across the country for the second NFL-Wharton Prep Leadership Program, in Philadelphia, this summer.

The four-day Prep Leadership Program is a selective leadership and achievement-recognition program for incoming high school senior class male and female athletes that provides participants with leadership and development training with a focus on sports.

The seminars, small groups and panels are “designed by the NFL and Wharton (to) provide a formal foundation of leadership training for the next generation of elite leaders and athletes,” according to the NFL website.

“They wanted to invest in those students who excelled in the classroom and on the field as well to provide them with leadership background to take back to their programs and high schools and on to college,” said Austin Moss, coordinator of the NFL Player Engagement Prep programs.

“It reinforces the model that you can't excel in sports if you can't excel academically.”

Bello, a wide receiver for the Hampton Talbots, applied for the program at the suggestion of his coach.

“I've always been a big fan of business and Pennsylvania University is one of the best business schools,” Bello said.

“I felt it was a way to get involved that would interest me. … I want to pursue a career in some business-related field.”

Wharton professors and NFL executives spoke with the teens about basics of leadership, professional and career development, financial education and total wellness.

Kenneth L. Shropshire, professor of legal studies and business ethics, and James Harris, football operations chief of staff for the Philadelphia Eagles, spoke to the program participants, as did Spencer Tillman of CBS Sports; a scientist with Gatorade; and Terrie Williams, who handles public relations for many top entertainers in New York City.

“I learned from the experience how to handle myself as I go through the next stages of life through college and getting my first job,” Bello said.

Bello said he plans to use what he learned at the leadership program as he makes decisions in the coming year that will affect his life after graduation.

“It was one of the most important experiences of my summer,” Bello said of the program.

Bello plans to attend college and study business after high school graduation.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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