ORLANDO - Wyoming High School football coach Aaron Hancock had an experience of a lifetime in Orlando, and he didn't even go to Disney World.
The Bengals' nominee for the 2018 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year was a guest of the NFL at the Pro Bowl festivities in Orlando.
Hancock's Wyoming Cowboys won the Division IV State Championship with a blowout of Girard 42-14. It capped a perfect 15-0 season and snapped a 41-year championship drought for the Cowboys.
"We knew we were going to have an opportunity to be pretty good," Hancock said. "It was about pushing the kids to be the best they could be. That was all of our focus. We wanted to be the best football team we could be. We didn't worry about outside distractions or our opponents, it's up to us to be successful. Our kids were very driven and focused. The kids did a great job, my coaching staff did a great job. We were blessed to have a great year."
The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award honors high school football coaches that display the integrity, achievement, and leadership exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula. As a reward, each nominated coach earned a trip to Orlando with a flight and accommodations provided by the NFL.
While in Orlando Hancock met with NFL legends Chad Pennington, Mark Brunell, Jeff George and Willie McGinest at various events throughout the week. He attended the Play Football Celebrity Flag Game, Play Football Skills Showdown and the Pro Bowl practice.
Yet the most fun Hancock had was just sitting down with other coaches and talking football.
"It's amazing that no matter where you are from, you get a bunch of football coaches together, they have something great to talk about," Hancock said. "That experience of seeing Orlando and experiencing the NFL and the way they do things is incredible.
"The conversations we had among each other and ideas we shared are the things we will never forget. I exchanged emails and text and we will stay in touch for years going forward. I think it was a cool bonding experience."
Hancock's tenure at Wyoming dates back almost two decades. Prior to being named head coach he has served as the defensive coordinator the four seasons. In 2001, Hancock began teaching at Wyoming and also served as a strength and conditioning and wrestling coach.
A significant part of his success at Wyoming stems from a relentless focus on his players' personal development. He started a mentorship program with the team and continues to preach the importance of academics. Hancock makes sure his coaching staff is always willing to work one-on-one to help improve a student's live on-and-off the football field.
For now Hancock will continue to sift through all of the text messages and emails he shared with other coaches in Orlando.
"It was an incredible experience meeting the best coaches in the country," said Hancock. "We were blessed to have a good football team, but having that honor to represent our football team and the area is something I'll never forget."