2018 Heart of a Giant

2018 HEART OF A GIANT AWARD NOMINEES

The following Tri-State Area high school football players have been nominated for the 2018 Heart of a Giant award. Cast your vote today!

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  • Nominee Photo

    James Ramacca

    Offensive Line
    St. Anthony's High School
    South Huntington, NY

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    James Ramacca

    Offensive Line
    St. Anthony's High School
    South Huntington, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: James has an unwavering work ethic. He can’t wait to get to practice and gives 100% at all times. His larger than life personality keeps his teammates entertained and motivated. He overcame a serious injury last year when he dislocated his patella and fractured his femur and patella at practice. He was told at least a 6-8 week recovery. He worked so hard at rehab and physical therapy that much to the Doctor’s surprise he made it back on the field in four weeks. He stood on the sidelines for those 4 weeks helping and supporting his backup. He had complete confidence in his teammates. The brotherhood that these boys have formed is truly amazing and incredible to watch. It shows in each play.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I have dyslexia which makes school hard. I know that I must work 10x harder than everyone else. It is just a small part of me and doesn’t make me who I am. My perseverance and dedication to be my personal best has made me who I am. I work hard each day and know that I am better for it.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: Definitely the brotherhood and teamwork you form. I have played on many different teams all over the country and played with all different kids but the brotherhood is always the same. It’s amazing. Everyone has an obstacle and that’s mine.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A:I love fishing, boating and all things water. I worked the youth camp at my school this this summer and loved it and can’t wait until next year. I enjoy all sport and of course attending the Giants games with my family. Each year we can’t wait for those tickets to arrive.

  • Nominee Photo

    Anthony Gambino

    Wide Receiver
    Eastport South-Manor
    Shirley, NY

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    Anthony Gambino

    Wide Receiver
    Eastport South-Manor
    Shirley, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: Dedication: This applies to me because last year in a game I hurt my knee and it didn’t feel right I could barely cut and I couldn’t run the right way but I didn’t want to let my teammates down and I wanted them to know I will always have there back forever so I played through it. I played 8 other games with this injury, I went to the doctors after the season and I found out I tore my miniscus and the doctors how no idea how I played with that for as long I did. This applies to the Heart of a Giant because I will do anything for my team if I am hurt or not and I will always have my brother's backs through ups and downs because I love my teammates and I love the sport of football.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: A time that I face adversity was last year before the season camp started. I was training with one of my friends and teammates doing a workout that we both knew was going to get us better and stronger then a tragedy happened. My friend josh fell underneath the log we were lifting and it fell on him killing him right next to me, I had no idea how I was going to over come this I was so upset. Then camp started I missed the first 2 days because I didn’t know what to do with myself but then my head coach called me and said come down to practice it will make you feel better. So the next day I went up to the field and my teammates knew I was hurting and they made me feel like family.Football helped me through this adversity because it wanted me to work harder and play better for my friend Josh and I didn’t want to let him down and that drives me everyday to do everything for him since he is not here anymore.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy about football is the bonding, the friendships you make. The hard work you have to do with your brothers in order to succeed. One player can’t make your team win a championship it has to be everyone if you're starting or not you matter. I love the Friday nights when the stadiums packed where you can’t hear yourself think, the butterflies in your stomach before the game knowing you're about to go to war with your brothers and last but not least the satisfaction of getting a win at the end of the day knowing you gave it everything you got.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A: Off the field I like hanging out with my friends and family. I like going to my little cousins football games watching him play and I also like watching my sisters play in the sports there in. Off the field I am always smiling trying to make people laugh and I try be as supportive as possible.

  • Nominee Photo

    Harlen Nolasco

    Defensive Line
    KIPP NYC College Prep
    Bronx, NY

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    Harlen Nolasco

    Defensive Line
    KIPP NYC College Prep
    Bronx, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: In terms of dedication I have the "Heart of a Giant". Its always been difficult being the smallest linemen on the field, but what some may see as a setback I see as an advantage. My freshman and sophomore year I was a third string outside linebacker. But towards the middle of my sophomore season two of our starting defensive ends got injured and coach decided to move me to defensive end to give me the opportunity to play defense. I constantly worked on my get off and pass rush moves to become the best I could be and even though I was never the biggest or strongest player I kept pushing myself until earned the starting job.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Being raised without a father figure for most of my life was a challenge. I was watched by my grandma and aunts while my mother would work all day. Growing up like this made me emotionally sensitive and I was bullied for it at a young age. This caused me to repress my emotions and I struggled to express myself. But whenever I'm on the field and put on my helmet I feel like all the outside distractions can't get to me. I use football as a way to express myself and how I feel. I've made such strong bonds with my teammates and coaches that I can go to them and express how I feel without judgment.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I enjoy playing football because of the lifelong bond that is created between player and coaches. I am currently in the middle of camp and within the past three days nearly six alumni have came during practice to visit us and the coaches, two of them were a part of the first graduating class eight years ago. They came and talked to us about how football has impacted them and how important it is to not take senior year for granted because of how fast it would go by. The fact that alumni that don't even play college football are coming back two or four years later to see how the program is doing shows the lifelong bond created between players and coaches.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A: When I am not playing football I might be in my fraternity, wrestling, or in a BAC meeting. Leadership lays a large role in my high school experience. I am currently the president of my high school fraternity as well as the captain of my wrestling team. My fraternity name RALPH LUK holds multiple fundraisers and events throughout the school year such as a professional dress drive, a food drive and an annual black and gold party. I am also apart of BAC, which stands for Bulldog Athletic Counsel. We are an elected group of student athletes from multiple sports that represent the voice of the students. We set the GPA requirement and solve any problem present such as how to bring as much awareness to female sports as male sports. Over the summer I was apart of a academic summer program called (HS)^2 or High School High Scholar. For three years this program helped build on my math and science knowledge as well as my leadership skills.

  • Nominee Photo

    Douglas Guilford

    Running Back
    Hopkins High School
    New Haven, CT

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    Douglas Guilford

    Running Back
    Hopkins High School
    New Haven, CT

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: I feel as if the word "character" applies to me the most. Obviously, as a captain for my team, I must lead them on the field. I do this vocally and by example. I play fast and aggressive, a way that the team must follow. I try to set the tempo every practice and every game. Off the field; however, I try to be a model student and citizen. I work diligently in the classroom, and I try to make sure my teammates do the same. But what mostly defines my character is the kindness I try to show to every person I meet. I make it a point to say to hello to anyone I may vaguely know on campus. A simple hello from someone on a bad day could mean the world. I try to be the person that brightens everyone's day.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: On October 19, 2017, a beloved coach for Hopkins Football lost his battle with cancer. For me, however, Coach Sebastian was much more than a coach. I thought of him as a big brother. He guided me through life lessons on and off the field. On the field, he would be my toughest critic and pushed me well beyond the preconceived limits I set for myself. Needless to say, his passing had a very large impact on me. That Thursday night after I received the news, I did not sleep much. Even that Friday, I was not able to focus. Even amidst all of the sadness, we still had a game to play that Saturday in Rye, New York. We decided to dedicate that game to Coach Sebastian before we even played. In my 13 years of playing sports, I have never felt something as special as that game. As a team, specifically on defense, we played with an energy I've never seen nor felt. There was so much emotion during the game, I would find tears rolling down my face without even thinking about Coach Sebastian. This game was essentially a therapy session. I was able to feel all the emotion I was trying to bury within me, and still use that emotion in such a positive way. Coach Sebastian would have wanted nothing more than for me to use that pent-up sadness and aggression in a football game. I have another story of adversity faced in the same football season. My grandfather, who was another father figure and role model in my life next to my father and uncle. He had been battling dementia for quite a while, but sadly that battle was coming to an end. He was in the hospital with a breathing tube, and my family and the doctors decided it was best to remove it. I had been battling with this decision all week long, and we had our final game of the season two days before the scheduled removal. I wasn't ready to lose such a significant person in my life, but again, I was able to find relief in football. During pre-game warm-ups, I knew I had to have the best game of my life to honor my grandfather. This last game of the season was the only gift I could give him at this point. Not only did I find comfort in this game personally, but I also was able to give him my version of a sendoff. I ended up having the best game of my Hopkins career: 200+ yards and 3 TD's (One got called back). Sadly my grandfather did pass away that Monday after the game, but even though he was not at the game, I feel as if he knew and still knows about that game I played for him. Without even knowing it, I played that game in dedication to my other grandfather as well. This was another one of the great male role models in my life. Two days after the passing of my grandfather, we receive news that my other grandfather had a heart attack and passed away too. I couldn't believe that three of some of the most important people in my life were gone in such a short amount of time. Again, more of my brothers from the team reached out to make sure I was okay. We received countless texts, emails, phone calls, and even flowers. These are the amazing bonds forged through this sport. Football and the relationships it created helped me get through one of the hardest times in my life and for that, I am forever grateful.

  • Nominee Photo

    Ashton Dalessio

    Running Back
    Glen Rock High School
    Glen Rock, NJ

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    Ashton Dalessio

    Running Back
    Glen Rock High School
    Glen Rock, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: Dedication. When you have a brother with severe Autism, you learn right away about adversity and how to overcome. I have spent many hours working with my mom and Quinn's therapist on how to help Quinn through day-to-day life skills. Since, Quinn has limited speech, he will get frustrated and lash out when he cannot express himself. This is where I really learned about dedication, patience and the will to never give up, even when you think it's time to quit. I look at my brother's face and see how hard it is to do a simple task (like brushing teeth that took 3 years to teach); how can I give up when times get tough, and watch my brother struggle every day? Quinn is my constant reminder to give 110% all of the time, and persevere through the tough times.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I was waiting on line with my brother to get ice cream. My brother was next on line, when two women cut in front of us. Quinn interpreted their actions as meaning, he couldn't have the ice cream anymore, which resulted in him having a meltdown and acted up. Another women turned around and told Quinn to "get a grip", I took Quinn gently by the hand and walked him over to the picnic benches. The entire time, I reassured him that he would still get his ice cream, we just had to wait over here for it. Quinn still didn't understand and tried to bite me. I knew not to react and knew his behavior was due to him not understanding. How did football help me through this event. On the field, you cannot always react to someone else's negative actions. Keeping composure and not letting your emotions on the field has taught me to do the same thing in real life. Trying not to react to something negative is not always easy but has to come within.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I love the brotherhood with my teammates. I love knowing they have my back, as well as I have theirs. No matter whether we are winning or losing, we don't turn on each other. There is no blaming, only helping and supporting each other. My other favorite part of football are the fans. The feeling when we are walking as a team through our parking lot, as we approach the stadium you can hear the fans cheering loud. I love when the younger football players are there with their hands out waiting for a high-five and they are in awe looking at us, it is adrenaline rush.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A: When I am not playing football, I can usually be found on the baseball field. Next to football; baseball is my other love. If I am not playing baseball, I can be found at my families lake house water skiing, relaxing or playing golf.

  • Nominee Photo

    Anthony Novello

    Defensive Back
    Mepham High School
    Bellmore, NY

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    Anthony Novello

    Defensive Back
    Mepham High School
    Bellmore, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: I belive that someone’s will defines whether or not someone has the “Heart of a Giant”. Your will determines your behavior with every little thing that you do. If someone has the will to have a great football team, they will push their teammates to play their very best, they will make sure that things going on off the field such as schoolwork are on point, and they will do absolutely anything to be great. Will is what makes people commit and dedicate themselves to something. Will is what drives people to be a team player because that’s what’s best to help the team succeed.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Going into my freshman year of high school is the scariest thing you can probably ever imagine at that time in someones life. Personally it would not have been as easy and fun as it was if I didn’t play football. Playing football helped me so much with my transition into high school because the upperclassmen were so helpful giving tips left and right about football, school, and even life in general. Without those upperclassmen showing me how to be a man, a great high school kid, and how to make the most out of my four years of high school, I would not be the person I am today. So now that I am an upperclassman, I am always sure to be there for the freshman because I know, first hand, how helpful and cool it was being friends with the upperclassmen.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about playing football is seeing a group of guys (or girls) become a family. What I mean by that is to me, there is nothing like the feeling you get when you bring a bunch of people together, let them bond and become closer than your average siblings, and be a part of the success that they achieve together as one. I love the brotherhood that comes along with football. Knowing that the guys to your right and left have your back is something special. If you make a mistake they will be there to pick you up and if they make a mistake you will be there to help them. Finally, I love just being with the guys, your best friends you can talk about anything and do absolutely anything and it will always be a good time. The talks in the locker room, going out together, and just spending time together are the things that I will never forget. Football has brought so many great relationships, people, and memories into my life that I will never forget.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A: The time that I spend off the field is where I think that I distinguish myself from others. I am part of three programs that truly help our school and community. One being our school’s leadership program. To be in this program you must be recommended be two or more teachers for certain characteristics and attributes that they think will carve you into a leader in the school. This program does so much for my school including organizing food drives, decorating the school for Schoolwide events, and even going to talk to Elementary school and Middle School kids about high school. The second program that I truly pride myself in being a part of is Athletes Helping Athletes. This program is made up of scholar athletes that again must be recommended by two or more teachers. Anyone who is selected gets to go to every elementary school in the district to talk to 5th and 6th graders about sports in high school and middle school and how schoolwork is also just as important as sports, if not more important. In the winter I am a part of a program called the St. Bernard’s Program. In this program we help to shovel walkways for those around my town who cannot do it themselves such as the disabled and the elderly. But my favorite thing to do off the field is just to spend time with my friends (most of them being football players of course). I love to create relationships and bonds with people who I hopefully will be friends with for a long time.

  • Nominee Photo

    Cameron Lynch

    Offensive Line
    Sachem High School
    Farmingville, NY

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    Cameron Lynch

    Offensive Line
    Sachem High School
    Farmingville, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: Will: Demonstrates the desire and drive to succeed both on the field and in the classroom.Looking at the list of characteristics provided, I feel “Will” fits me really well. My drive to succeed on the field as well as off the field is something I pride myself on. On the field, I strive to be one of the best. Although I know I am not the biggest or strongest on my team, I put the work in year round to be the best I can be. I have never missed a practice and very rarely miss a day in the weight room off season. I am usually the first one on the field and the last one to leave. I come prepared and put 100% into every practice and/or game. I also know that, in order to succeed, I must prepare myself more than physically, but mentally as well. Mental preparation is a huge part of playing football, and I do my best to focus. As a Center, I spend many hours watching film, learning plays and guiding my teammates. Academically I am an honor student with a full course load of AP and honor classes. As far back as I can remember I have always set goals and challenged myself to excel in the classroom. I have always known since I was young that I wanted to have a career in Business and Computer Science. I know the will, determination and the work that must be done in order to succeed and work hard every day to obtain my goals. I feel I have been fortunate to be part of a big school district where it is competitive academically as well as in sports.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: One of the primary messages our coaches have always conveyed to us was that we have tobe strong through adversity. We, together as a team, had to face one of the toughest tragedies no one should ever have to face at any age. Last summer, one week before the start of our 2017 season, we all witnessed the loss of one our teammates during summer conditioning camp. During this time of emotional pain trauma, not only did we have to say goodbye to ourbrother, we were faced with many challenges.One challenge we faced was the Media (social and news). We were constantly hounded by the local news, they went as far as conducting interviews outside of the wake and funeral and taking pictures from the woods behind our fields at the school. They even tried to join our team Facebook page. Through Social Media we received anyone and everyone’s opinion regarding the incident. Some people went as far as to blame the players on my team and myself for the accident stating “the players should have known better than to run this drill”. Over the past year, another challenge we have had to face was the uncertainty of our football program and coaching staff. During this time we have faced many obstacles such as confusion,the lack of decision making and counseling by our school administration and legal issues. Through all of the challenges and the pain I have endured this past year, I would have never made it through without the support of my teammates, coaches and the community we live in. There was one thing we were all certain of and that was to overcome all of these challenges we were facing we needed to go out and play not only for ourselves but for Josh. So we all pulled together, worked hard on and off the field and came out with a winning season, even though we felt we had the world against us and were told we would not even win one game. Although I will never forget, I continue to fight every day to move forward. At times it seems to get harder than easier. Football along with my coaches and teammates (brothers) have been my greatest strength.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: There are always two things that come to mind when I hear this question. The first thing I love about football is the brotherhood. In my opinion, football is one of the greatest team sports there is. As a team we share a bond unlike any other sport. In order to be successful, we have to trust and have each other’s back to get the job done. This brotherhood is also seen off of the field, as well. There isn't a day of school that I don't get my name called out in the hallway, or high fives as I pass. My best friend is one of my teammates, my brothers. That's truly what we are. On the field we may not always get along, go head to head, and at times fight. Yet, at the end of the day, we would do anything for each other. Another thing I love about football is all of the lessons it has taught me to grow and become a better person on and off the field. Football has taught me to be a leader, motivated, disciplined, confident, and respectful and what it takes to work as a team player.

  • Nominee Photo

    Luca Marra

    Wide Receiver
    North Shore High School
    Glen Head, NY

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    Luca Marra

    Wide Receiver
    North Shore High School
    Glen Head, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: I think that dedication best describes me. I have endured a lot of adversity in my 17 years of life, including the death of my father. His passing from an opioid overdose was hard for me. I couldn't understand why he chose drugs over his family. But this pain turned into drive and motivation to be the best athlete and person I could be. I learned so much from this tragic experience. I have inspired others through my adversity, hard work and dedication. I feel like I am a role model for my teammates. They see what I have gone through and have seen my strength, which they feed off of and this has made all the difference on and off the field.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When I was much younger, my dad wanted me to play football. He started throwing bricks to me at the young age of 5 because he said this is the way to become a great wide receiver. We practiced a lot when I was little. But then I couldn’t practice with him anymore. My dad passed away when I was 7. I knew that it was his dream for me to play football, so I continued to play. At this point, it was in my blood. I fell in love with football. There was nothing like being on that football field. Football ended up being my lifesaver and my release. If I got down about my dad, I’d play football and I would forget about all the negativity. Football brought so much life back into me. The coaches, the players, the adrenaline, the pump, the dedication all motivated me. I became so much more focused in all aspects of my life. To this day, when I get a touchdown I always look up at him. I know he is always watching and I know he is proud of my accomplishments so far.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I enjoy how a team is not just a team but a family. A team may not be a team forever but we remain a football family forever. The friendships you make during football are unlike any other. We are all like brothers. There's nothing like the night before a game when we all just sit around in good company with good food and continue to grow our bond as a family. I also enjoy the fans. I enjoy making a great play and seeing the crowd erupt. There's no feeling like it in the world.

  • Nominee Photo

    Jake Colon

    Running Back
    Wood-Ridge Jr/Sr High School
    Wood-Ridge, NJ

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    Jake Colon

    Running Back
    Wood-Ridge Jr/Sr High School
    Wood-Ridge, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: The word commitment defines the "Heart of a Giant" in several ways. Without commitment you cannot succeed in anything that you do. In football commitment comes with spending the extra hours in the gym getting your body physically prepared. It means watching film for that extra twenty minutes preparing mentally for the game. Also it means the commitment off the field in the classroom has to be just as high as the commitment you have on the field. Commitment applies to me because I do feel I am one of the most committed people to the game on and off the field. Before summer practices I am at the field an hour early everyday getting an extra lift in. I watch film on the other team to the point I know their offense inside and out. In the classroom I keep an above average GPA while being a two sport athlete with training nonstop everyday. I really do feel commitment applies to me because of the amount of commitment I have to everything I do on and off the field.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: A time I faced adversity in life is the time my parents were splitting up. At the time of this I was in eighth grade heading into football season. The separation of my parents started to lead to no relationship with my father. This is hard for any kid to grow up without a relationship with a male role model. Playing football helped me get through the tough times. Football allows you to escape what you're going through and get your mind off the bad and just have fun. Everything in life I have gone through football made it easier to get through.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about playing football is the competition and love for the game football provides that other sports just do not. The competition in football is different than other sports. Your bashing heads and shoulders with other teams to win. I love competing with other teams, win or lose nothing beats the atmosphere of a Friday night high school football game in front of your whole town. Also nothing compares to the love for the game of football by the athletes. To play football you need to have a certain love for the game which in other sports you do not really need. When talking to an athlete of another sport you might hear "Yeah baseball is ok" but you'll never hear that from a football player because he wouldn't be playing the sport then. That is why the games are so intense with the talking smack, the hard hits, the scuffles throughout the game. This is all just to show how much love and passion everyone has for the game of football. This is what I enjoy most about playing football.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A: When I am not on the football field I usually spend my time in the gym working out getting ready for the season. Other than working out, off the field I enjoy hanging out with my friends. In the summer when I am not practicing I like to spend time at the beach. Another thing I do enjoy is going to other sporting events and supporting my friends in the sports they play like how they support the football team and I in our games.

  • Nominee Photo

    Justin Brower

    Offensive Line
    Herricks High School
    New Hyde Park, NY

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    Justin Brower

    Offensive Line
    Herricks High School
    New Hyde Park, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: Dedication goes a long way when I first started playing football as I was not the best player but I was dedicated to improving my form and improving my strength, I have significantly improved from the offseason and continue to improve every day of practice, they say practice makes perfect and they are right because you can only get better at something. I went from playing a few snaps last year to being a starter on the o-line because I was dedicated to bettering myself and the team.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Before playing football I didn’t have many friends and I wasn’t very social I mostly kept to myself. Once I joined the team I felt like I was apart of something. When I was a kid I never really played any sports.Playing football helped me overcome these adversities because I made friends while playing football. Football also got me out of the house more and more active.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I enjoy the team aspect and how everyone on the team has their job and the team all has to work as one at a common goal. I also enjoy the pregame moments when your getting ready to verse your opponent that feeling when your about to step on that field. The moment after you make a big play and your whole team is congratulating you.

    Q: Tell us about how you train in the off-season and how you prepare to get ready for your season and games.

    A: When not playing football I enjoy the little things like dinner with my family, excercising, playing video games, I have been playing video games basically my whole life. I also enjoy watching the NFL every Sunday.

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  • Nominee Photo

    Frank Wise

    Linebacker
    Pine Bush High School
    Pine Bush, NY

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    Frank Wise

    Linebacker
    Pine Bush High School
    Pine Bush, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To have the "Heart of a Giant" an individual must have the will to endure. Whether I am working on a class assignment or preparing for a Friday night game I maintain focus and give 100 percent at all times. I am the undersized player on the field, Just about everyone on my team is bigger than me, but that is insignificant to me. I am not a quitter. At linebacker, facing a 250lb lineman can be a normal day for me. I always make sure I am the most prepared player on the field. I make sure I finish all my homework early so I can spend my nights and free periods watching film. I take the time to learn every position on our team so I can help my teammates better their craft. I rely on my defensive linemen in the run game and my defensive backs in the pass game. I know how important everyones job is on the football field so I hold myself to a high standard. If I don't do my job 100% my teammates may not either. Football is the ultimate team sport and everything I do on an off the field is signed with helping my team on Friday nights.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: During the spring of my sophomore year I injured my knee. I was very upset because of the possibility that I would have to miss football games in the upcoming season. That entire summer I worked extremely hard getting stronger and regaining my confidence in my knee. I was able to be 100% for the beginning of the season. I really relied on football that summer to keep me motivated. I knew how important it was for me to be healthy. Anytime I was tired or wanted to easy off of the rehab process I would think of the team and how I can contribute. The year before was my first on varsity and I knew there was more I could contribute. I pushed myself harder than I was ever pushed, for football, and it paid off.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about football is the brotherhood. Football is a game where you need 10 teammates to be successful. You could be the best athlete in the world but if you don't have blocking toucan't score. If you don't have coverage or a pass rush then your defense cannot stop anyone. You have to do your job to the best of your ability and rely on your teammates that they'll do theirs. I try to perfect my craft so my teammates will do the same. When the season starts, your teammates become your brothers. You are with them for hours and hours. In the locker room, on the field, in the gym, the tea aspect is incomparable to any other sport. Another key part of football that I love is that all athletes are equal. Personally being 5'5, I'm one of the smallest kids on the field however, if I do my job, encourage my teammates and help drive our team towards our goals, I make a difference. Football is hard. You practice hard all week for a two hour game. The more work you put in during the week, the better the outcome is on Friday nights. Football is truly the most equal playing field because different types of athletes all have their spots. Everyone can find their position and if they work hard, they can make a difference.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Off of the football field I am usually doing school work, watching film, working out, or playing video games. I am a huge fan of most major sports. I am addicted to pushing myself harder and harder in the gym. I also play lacrosse for my high school. I enjoy listening to The Pat McAfee Show and other athlete's podcasts. I am a huge fan of my high school's other sports. I always make sure I support our community because on Friday nights they always show out for our team. I am also an avid fantasy football player. I love keeping track of the NFL and beating my friends in fantasy football.

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    Jack Sullivan

    Offensive Line
    Albertus Magnus High School
    Bardonia, NY

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    Jack Sullivan

    Offensive Line
    Albertus Magnus High School
    Bardonia, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:It's hard to choose just one of the criteria, but I will choose Will - (Demonstrates the desire and drive to succeed both on the field and in the classroom). I chose Will because I think it also encompasses Commitment, Dedication, Character and Teamwork. I am 100% committed to success both on the field and in the classroom, not only for me but for my teammates as well. In order to reach this goal of "success" I committed myself to working hard every day. I never miss a workout whether it be an off season optional workout or a team run or a few extra sprints before or after practice. If it means I have to get to the weight room early, I'll be there. I am by far and away the smallest guy on our Offensive Line. It requires a lot of will, hard work and perseverance to go up against guys who have 30-50 lbs on me. I couldn't possible have earned that position without my strong will to be the strongest and the most prepared I can be. There are a lot of factors that I can't control but some things I can is effort, attendance, being on time (which means being early) and respect for coaches and teammates. If one of the underclassman is having trouble with Algebra, I am the first to offer to work on it with him, as I am also a Peer Tutor for my high school. I have achieved honor roll status for both of my years here at AM, and take a rigorous curriculum of honors and advanced classes.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When I was 8 years old I was playing football for the Orangetown Patriots youth football program. We began practicing in early August. At that time my (triplet) sister Carolyn was battling a very aggressive brain tumor. Our house was a very hectic and stressful place. There was so much required to keep my sister on track with all of her treatments and appointments as well as her daily care, while also keeping myself and my other sister's (Lauren) lives moving forward as normally as possible. Every week day evening I went to football practice for a few hours. It became the highlight of my day. I was with my friends and we were playing the sport I loved and for the time I was there I forgot about my sister's illness. On the day my sister passed away (9/24/09), I was getting ready for football practice. Before I left, the phone rang. It was Eli Manning of the NY Giants. The Make a Wish Foundation had set up that call. My sister Carolyn was too sick to take the call so myself and my other sister Lauren took it. It put a huge smile on my face to have had the opportunity to talk to my hero on the phone. Following the call I headed out to practice. Mid way thru I was called off the field and a friend was taking me home. I remember thinking on the ride this isn't good. My sister had passed away that evening. In the days and weeks that followed I continued to play football and my teammates supported me through those hard days . I've continued to play every season since. The Game of Football and my teammates will always be very special to me. When the work gets hard and the hits keep coming, I remember that this is why I play.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about playing football is the team. I enjoy the game and I enjoy the rigors and the intensity, but what I love the most is my teammates. I love when we all come together and support each other both on and off the field. I love the team dinners and the bus rides. I love when we celebrate a win or mourn a loss together. I love how we pick each other up when we need to. I love the laughs we share in the weight room in between pushing each other to be better.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Football is a demanding sport and it takes a lot of time and commitment both in season and in the off season. When I am not training or playing football I focus my time and energy on other activities that mean a lot to me. I work with my family in promoting and supporting The Carolyn Sullivan Memorial Foundation in memory of my sister. The charity raises money for families who have very sick children to help deal with finances. So far we have donated about $350,000 to families who need help. I also work as a busboy on the weekends and volunteer as a Peer Tutor and and a Freshman Mentor at my high school. In addition to those activities I'm dedicated to my academics maintaining my honor roll status.

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    Zaheir Mitchell

    Defensive Back
    Wallington High School
    Wallington, NJ

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    Zaheir Mitchell

    Defensive Back
    Wallington High School
    Wallington, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To me character defines having the “Heart of a Giant.” To have good character you have to have traits such as honesty, courage, and responsibility. Good character comes with a lot of responsibilities on and off the football field. You have to have respect for everyone and anyone that tries to help you live your best life and whoever is there to help you and teach you the right and wrongs of life. Courage is something that is difficult to build, you have to have the courage and strength to make yourself and everyone around you better. Not only with sports but in life you have to have the courage and strength to make yourself and everyone around you better everyday. When someone is down you have to have the courage to help them feel better and support them with whatever they’re going through. This applies to everyone not only friends and family. If you see someone in school having a hard day or if you see them and know something is wrong try and be there for them because no one else may be. The last thing I mentioned is honesty. Honesty can come a long way. If you mess up in life you have to be honest with yourself and know that you made a mistake that can and will be fixed. Also you have to be honest with coaches, friends, family, teachers, or anyone else trying to help you. You have to build trust with everyone and you do that through honesty. Every other criteria was very important but I chose character for those reasons and I feel like that’s what it means to have the “Heart of a Giant.”

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: For some people it is harder to overcome adversity rather than others. For me it was hard but much needed. I was always the smallest kid everywhere I went so I was always scared to do some of the things the other kids would do. I started playing football in 3rd grade and at that moment I got tougher and more confidence. At that moment I knew I wasn’t scared of anyone or anything anymore. Playing football was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: Winning is fun and losing sucks but nothing is better than forming a bond or keeping a bond with your friends. I mean obviously scoring touchdowns and getting interceptions are pretty enjoyable but how about when I make a great play or my friends make a great plays and we celebrate together, those are the moments I play for. I enjoy playing with the people I’ve know for so long and playing with people I can basically call my brothers.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Whenever I have free time I babysit my baby sister to help my mom out with my other brothers and sisters. When I’m not helping my mom go shopping or helping around the house I like to go out and eat with my friends or sometimes we just hangout at each other’s house and play video games and all that. Now that school is starting I have I make time for homework and studying so that’s another time I will be doing on my free time. In the summer where I have most of my free time I volunteer at junior football and basketball camps to help the youth become better athletes. I love helping children with anything because it just makes me feel good knowing I can make a huge difference. Being an athlete you barely have free time, so I just try to make the best out of it.

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    Gerard Urso

    Running Back
    Howell High School
    Farmingdale, NJ

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    Gerard Urso

    Running Back
    Howell High School
    Farmingdale, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Going Into my senior year of football, during our first scrimmage and I got tackled and my ankle bent a weird way and the doctor told me I couldn’t play the first half of the season and as a captain and two way starter it was a rough one for me to handle because all I wanted to do was be on the field with my brothers all I do is work as hard as I can I train all year for football season and I push myself until I can’t go anymore. Ive been doing this my whole life going to football everyday playing sick playing hurt and since this happened to to me it’s awful.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: My whole life I’ve been doubted and called short and that I can’t do it and becoming a two year starter and captain of my football team has shown that I am made to prove people wrong and that I don’t let anything keep me down .

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I love being out there with my brothers and working hard I love the Friday night lights and shocking the shore and showing people what I can do.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:I’m always in the gym working hard lifting and I’m really a fitness freak always eating right .

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    Justin Peterson

    Linebacker
    Lenape Valley Regional High School
    Stanhope, NJ

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    Justin Peterson

    Linebacker
    Lenape Valley Regional High School
    Stanhope, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To have the "Heart of a Giant", you must be committed to your dreams and your goals. You have to be committed to showing up to practice, weight room, and all of the other events that your team holds to better yourself. I have played football my whole life, and my parents always taught me to stay committed to the things that I love, and I loved football, so I was fully committed. Ever since my freshman year of high school, I would go to every single practice, every single weight lifting session, every single scrimmage, and every single game. I am so committed that I have went to the weight room even when there isn't a session for football that day, and I would put in the extra work in on the field when it was just me doing some simple drills to better myself. Being this committed to football is having the "Heart of a Giant". I try my hardest to set an example for the upcoming kids that will take my spot when I leave this organization. The past two years, I was at the weight room to help the incoming freshman for the next year learn how to lift correctly. When I see kids struggling to remember their assignment on a certain play, I am there to help them learn how to do their job. Being this committed to my team and to my passion is having the "Heart of a Giant".

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When I was in the eighth grade, I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. If you don't know what Alopecia is, it is basically an auto-immune disorder that stops my hair from growing in certain places. The definition of Alopecia is: Sudden hair loss that starts with one or more circular bald patches that may overlap. By the time it was the first game of my Freshman year, my head was completely bald and I lost all of my hair on my arms and legs. Playing football definitely helped me cope with having Alopecia. Football for me, is like a way to get away from reality; when I play football, all that I am focused on is what is happening on the field. The football field is my comfort zone, that is where I feel at home. And football kept pushing me to be the best me, no matter how my hair looks or no matter what people say.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: The best part about playing football is the brotherhood that is formed from a team. When you are on a football team, that team becomes your family because you go through everything together. You go through the tough practices during the off-season, you go through the great wins, and you go through the tough losses; and you go through all of these events together.... as a family. The brotherhood in football also helped me go through my hair loss because my brothers were always there for me to tell me how its all good and that they don't care if I have hair or not, that they will be my brothers through thick and thin. These guys are like this because of the brotherhood that is formed when people are on a football team. Brotherhood is the best part about football.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

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    Zion Frazier

    Quarterback
    Hackensack High School
    Hackensack, NJ

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    Zion Frazier

    Quarterback
    Hackensack High School
    Hackensack, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: My character is what gives me the “Heart of a Giant”. I am always motivated to be the best on the field at all times. This mindset also goes into games with me. Whenever my team steps on the field, I want them to feel and work like they are the best team on the field. I always push my teammates to get better individually because my mindset is that we are only as strong as our weakest link.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I’ve faced many adversities in my life so far and football has helped me overcome all of them. Football is my outlet to solve all of my problems because when I am on the field, nothing else in the world. A time that I specifically remember was the time that my grandmother was in the hospital and she had to go through multiple surgeries that could’ve ended her life. I used football to overcome my sad thoughts because all put all of that thought and worry into energy for me to go through my drills harder than I ever have.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: There is a lot to enjoy about football. What I enjoy most is the feeling of getting better as an individual and as a team. When I get to the point that I do something that I haven’t done in my past like make a big play, I get a feeling that can not be matched. Also, the feeling I get when my teammate makes a big play or when my teammate shows improvement, is unmatched by anything else. I also love winning.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I am not on the field I spend my time watching football for the most part. Outside of watching football, I enjoy spending time with my friends, teammates, and family. I also enjoy going to places or events with a positive and fun environment. These events can be anything from a concert to a game for another team.

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    Jake Walsh

    Defensive Back
    Bernards High School
    Pompton Lakes, NJ

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    Jake Walsh

    Defensive Back
    Bernards High School
    Pompton Lakes, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To me, dedication means being able to overcome any adversity or hardship that gets in your way. Being dedicated allows you to stay faithful to your team and to yourself no matter how hard you want to give up. Even when you're at your breaking point, dedication gives that extra little boost to keep you going. Dedication applies to me as I'm very dedicated to my team, my education, and myself. During practices, the hot summer days can be really challenging both mentally and physically. After each practice, we have conditioning which usually is sprints. No matter how hard I want to give up, my dedication pushes me to finish the sprints so that I can make my team and myself better. I also show my dedication in the classroom by studying hard and working through any issues. Getting a good education is key, liking working hard on the football field, to becoming a good, well rounded athlete. My dedication to this part of my life is equal to my dedication to my team. Whenever I face any issues, I use my dedication to improve myself and overcome these issues. Without my dedication, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When I was younger, I was a very shy kid. Even though my school was small I didn't have many friends since I wasn't as outgoing and sociable as most of the other kids. This lack of friendships really affected my self confidence and outlook on life. When I was in fifth grade, I started to play football as a way to get out more and be more athletic and healthy. Though I played football for the health benefits, playing football also helped me become more sociable and open up to other kids. Even though I went to a different middle school than the other kids on my team, the fact that we were the only fifteen kids that wanted to play the sport helped formed a life long brotherhood that still stands today. By playing football, I was able to overcome the adversity of being a shy kid who couldn't make friends.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about playing football is the dedication that everyone has on the team and the fact that younger kids see me as a role model. In other sports, most kids don't have a lot of dedication to the team as a whole. To them it's more about individual achievement and glory. This works fine for other sports because caring about yourself instead of the team doesn't make a difference most of the time. The difference for football is that caring about yourself more than the team will hurt the team significantly. The dedication that my team mates show really shows that my own dedication is worth it.The other enjoyment I get from playing football is that younger children see me as a role model. When I was playing rec football, I remember going to the high school games and seeing all of the players who are still legends in my town. Seeing these kids and how they acted really helped me mold me into who am I today. Knowing how much those kids affected me really made me want to be a role model for younger kids. Through football I can help mold younger players into being better men and athletes.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I'm off the field I'm usually reading or trying to better educate myself. I'm the type of person that doesn't do well with boredom. Whenever I'm done with football I have to do other things to occupy my mind or I'll get bored easily. I enjoy reading as it allows me to gain new knowledge and experiences. The stories that can be told in books are infinite and the fact that I can educate myself too makes them even better. The other thing I like to do is self teach myself different topics. If there's something that I'm especially interested in I'll look for any books and articles that can help me teach myself the topic.

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    Harry Ravitz

    Wide Receiver
    Pelham Memorial High School
    Pelham, NY

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    Harry Ravitz

    Wide Receiver
    Pelham Memorial High School
    Pelham, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Dedication is huge in having the “Heart of Giant”. It shows that not only are you dedicated for your team and the sport but you are also dedicated to the community and all the members of your team and stafff and you work your hardest for them. This applies to me because I am extremely dedicated to my teammates I would do anything to see my team win and to win for my coaches and town.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: The first time I faced adversity in my life was in 3rd grade my grandma had just passed and we were very close. It was the first time I really understood what losing someone felt like. I was very shaken up by it and I used to be very quiet. That summer I started playing football for the first time it broke me out of my shell and I made so many friends I am still friends with today.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: There are so many reasons why I love playing football. But the one thing I enjoy the most about football is the sense of family you have with your team. Football is a very physical sport and sometimes you take a beating but when you do it for your “family” and they do it for you and you come out with a win it’s a very special and rewarding feeling.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:In my time off the field I love to play basketball and coach it. I play for my varsity team and I love it. But I love coaching even more then playing. These past two years I have coached my younger brother's CYO basketball team. I never knew how hard coaching was until last year but know I get it. It is stressful but so rewarding knowing that you are helping younger kids not only improve on the court but improve their social skills too.

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    Jaheem Burks

    Quarterback
    Malcolm X Shabazz
    Newark, NJ

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    Jaheem Burks

    Quarterback
    Malcolm X Shabazz
    Newark, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A: Dedication: Unfortunately I was shot 6 times in a case of mistaken identity. I was told that my football career was pretty move over. I did not take NO for an answer I rehabbed extensively. My team and I just finished a 12-0 State Championship season. There was no way I wasn't going to defend our championship and keep our streak.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: My football has always come pretty easy for me I really never had issues making plays and running. After my shooting I had to learn how to walk again. I'm still not where I want to be but I can see the progress. I used to be one of the fastest guys on my team but now I'm struggling to regain my speed and quickness.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I enjoy the competition! I love the feeling right before game time everyone is locked in. Everyone is focused on one thing, one goal and that is winning.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A: When I'm not playing football I enjoy, spending time with my family and playing basketball with my friends.

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    Eric Genua

    Offensive Line
    Suffern Senior High School
    Suffern, NY

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    Eric Genua

    Offensive Line
    Suffern Senior High School
    Suffern, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Throughout life you must have the will to over come obstacles to achieve what ever you want in life. Due to my learning disability I have learned a lot about will on and off the field. At times kids say things that hurt my feelings about my learning disability and it takes me longer to learn the plays and the things taught in school, but I have learned that it is good to put it behind you and not get upset however I Will always remember the way it felt when I have struggled so that it will continue to drive me to learn even more and become a better person and football player.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: It is not one time in my life that I faced adversity but it is everyday. I have a learning disability and have a hard time in school. So when something is hard for me like reading or taking a test and I feel down football makes me feel better about myself because I know I am part of a team and it helps me to burn off steam by being able to work out and help my team achieve their goals

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: There are many things I enjoy about football. But my favorite thing is know matter what your story is or who you are once you put the pads on everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter if you are not the smartest in classes or the most popular. It is then up to you and only you to show why you belong to play. And once you start playing it’s like one big family that no matter what happens they will have your back for life.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:I spend my free time building and landscaping. I like building because it’s a good stress reliever and I like thinking of my own ideas and seeing my ideas become something. When I finish a project in its completion from start to finish it makes me feel good and proud of myself. I also love to landscape I love making a bed of soil look beautiful.

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    Michael Lizotte

    Defensive Back
    Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School
    Rumson, NJ

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    Michael Lizotte

    Defensive Back
    Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School
    Rumson, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:As a varsity football captain, it is my goal to inspire others each and every day, both on and off the field. Setting an example, especially for the younger guys, is a priority of mine. I make it clear that each and every person on the team posses leadership capabilities, and just because I’m a “captain”, it doesn’t mean that everyone can’t be a leader.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Week four of my junior year season I tore my MCL off the bone. Two weeks after that, my best friend took his own life. Although I may have not been able to play, football kept me motivated. Whether it be coming to every practice, or doing upper body workouts in the gym, football simply kept me afloat. Football is so much more than the sport itself.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about playing football, especially at RFH, is the friendships I’ve developed. You can learn a lot about someone’s attitude and dedication when they are on a football field, and I can confidently say that all the guys in the team have great attitudes and are dedicated. It’s not only relationships with other players that is great, but also coaches. The coaching staff at RFH are second to none, and their support for me when I went through what I went through meant the world to me.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:This past year, I cofounded a non-profit organization for suicide prevention. It’s been an incredible journey, and sure has kept me busy. Apart from the foundation, I like to spend time with my friends and family.

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    Fabriola Andre

    Defensive Back
    Toms River High School
    Toms River, NJ

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    Fabriola Andre

    Defensive Back
    Toms River High School
    Toms River, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I feel as if I can’t just choose one criteria. I am going to choose Character because it covers all the other options. I was awarded Character Student of the month last year for demonstrating positivity on and off the field. I go out of my way to make sure new kids at school are comfortable. When I believe in something, I never give up on it and that’s why I think “Character” applies to me. I believe having character is the real foundation of all worth while success.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Last year I was diagnosed with depression. It was hard dealing that, I began to distance myself from people. My grades started to slip. But one thing that I never doubted was football. Everytime I had a bad day, I’d get up and run to the park down the street and kick and toss the ball either with myself or with a very good friend of mine. When I told my Coach about my mental health, he was nothing but supportive and so was my team. Football has gotten me through so much, and this is just one of the things.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: The thing I enjoy the most about playing football is being more than just a team with my teammates. We are Family! When I first walked into that lockerroom, no one laughed, or judged me. They all welcomed me with open arms and taught me everything I need to know. I also love that feeling of flying down the field and feeling that amazing energy and passion while running towards the endzone.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Outside of playing football, like every typical teenage girl, I just hang out with my family and friends. We love taking road trips to Long Beach Island and playing board games on a movie night. If i’m not with friends, I’m at work. Working hard to make my mother and family proud. So, in a nutshell football is my life.

  • Nominee Photo

    Paul Monaco

    Running Back
    Jefferson Township High School
    Jefferson Township, NJ

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    Paul Monaco

    Running Back
    Jefferson Township High School
    Jefferson Township, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:The criteria that best defines me having the "Heart of a Giant" is my Will. I feel that Will applies to me because whether I am on the field or in the classroom I work hard and have the desire to succeed, for my coaches, my teammates, my teachers but most of all, for myself. I understand that it takes work to reap results and I am not afraid to work hard. I demonstrate my desire to succeed in football because no matter what the conditions, I will always be out there working my tail off, giving my coaches and teammates my all. This season our team has had tons of injuries and faced other circumstances that happened, to prevent players from playing. We lost many players in key positions, something that I have never experienced before. I have had to learn new positions and be able to be at any of six different positions on any given play, three on offense and three on defense. Through all of this, I have never said a word that was anything but positive and continued to work hard and take no plays off. I displayed my character by answering, YES to every request my coaches asked of me. I put the time and work in to show them that I would be ready for whatever they needed. I exemplified character to my teammates by working hard, never stepping off the field, and making no excuses. As one of the leaders of our team, it is my job to keep everyone motivated to be the best player they can be. By contributing my all for the benefit of the team, I show my teammates my desire and drive to succeed. As every player out there does, I come home after practice, hop in the shower, have some dinner with my family then get started on my homework. Many nights throughout high school that has consisted of two to three hours, sometimes more. I take as much pride in being a member of the National Honor Society as I do in being named Second Team Defense Patriot Red Division for football my junior year. I have managed to maintain a 4.22 GPA while taking all honors and AP classes, earning high honor roll all three years so far. My coach always says how football has so many different aspects, that it is almost a simulation of your life. I feel all the lessons I have learned through the game are important but my strong will is something that will never leave me. It is something that defines the "Heart of a Giant," and me.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: One time when I faced adversity in my life was my freshmen year when I decided to change from a soccer player to a football player. I had played soccer my whole life but I wanted to play football in high school. A lot of people told me that I wouldn't be able to do it, that football was something you had to do from when you were little, that I wouldn't be able to catch up. But my parents always taught me that nothing is impossible. I would have to work hard and may not get the results I expected, but it was definitely doable. Since I was able to score goals on the soccer field from the 35, I told the coaches I could be their kicker, but deep down I was determined to prove everyone wrong and show them I could be a football player. Unfortunately, I broke my thumb early on in camp and was sidelined until week one. My kicker spot was given up to someone else and I had no spot on the team. I worked hard once I came back, both on and off the field, learning positions and memorizing plays. I ended up starting both ways my freshmen year. I earned offensive MVP on JV my sophomore year, while also playing special teams on varsity. My junior year I received the coaches award on varsity. And now here I am, my senior year, second year starter, captain, and it was all because I never gave up on football and continued to grind it out. That broken thumb may not be the largest adversity, but it forced me to choose whether I was going to give up, or work hard to achieve my goals. In the off seasons I worked hard in the weight room, I was determined to get stronger and better. Football became less about proving everyone wrong and more about proving myself right. That I did have what it takes, that anything could be done if you are dedicated and put your mind to it. It is a good feeling to be able to face the people who thought I couldn't be where I am today, but it is an even better feeling to face myself in the mirror each Friday with my game jersey on, ready to give it my all.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy the most about playing football is the brothership, all of the bonds that I have made throughout the years. I have played and continue to play other team sports, and while they all have their special qualities too, there is nothing like the brotherhood that is formed between all of us on the football team. Something special happens on that practice field, at the pasta parties, in the weight room, at the pre game meals and of course under those lights on Friday nights. It is an amazing feeling knowing that no matter what goes on in my life, or any of my teammates' lives, we all have each other to lean on and know that we will all be there for one another. This is what we call our brothership. This season in particular our team has battled through a lot of adversity. Between injuries throughout camp, players not being able to continue with us, or players getting hurt in our games, we have all stuck together and continue to move forward with what we have left. If you were to walk into our locker room, it would be as if nothing had gone wrong, everyone is talking and happy to be there with each other. We don't focus on the negatives that have hit our team. We continue to be positive, supporting each other and it is something that nobody understands until they play the game of football. There is something about the bonds formed that are special. I am proud to be a football player and will always share this special bond with anyone I meet who has had the experience of this brotherhood.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I am not on the field, most likely I will be hanging out with my friends, outside somewhere either at basketball courts or playing wiffle ball. I am almost always doing something active outside, when I am not doing my school work. I enjoy the outdoors. I love to go to the beach and swim in the ocean. It is one of my favorite things to do. My family spends time at the beach every summer, it is a way for us to all be together, and that is something that is very important to me. I love spending time with my family and being in their company. I also give my time to mentor youth football players both on the gridiron and in the classroom. I am a member of the Peer Development Program at my HS as well as a founding member of the Athletic Advisory Council. I am also a member of the Varsity Basketball team at my HS, which keeps me active indoors during the winter months. If you couldn't already tell, I am happiest when I am moving and I do my best to find ways to do that.

  • Nominee Photo

    Andrew Terc

    Linebacker
    Bloomfield High School
    Bloomfield, NJ

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    Andrew Terc

    Linebacker
    Bloomfield High School
    Bloomfield, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To most people, high school is just another chapter in their lives. Instead of making the most out of it, they just want to get through it. That has never been my mentality with anything in life. Through my will and perseverance, I have largely experienced success so far in my life. Unlike most other Heart of a Giant nominees, I started playing football my freshman year of high school. It was only through my desire to become better that I was able to become the player and leader that I am today. My drive in the classroom has also helped me tremendously, as my grades have given me the ability to have options for college and life beyond high school.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Last year, my mother went to a doctor's appointment and they noticed some abnormalities. A few tests later it was revealed that her cancers, Leukemia and Lymphoma, were returning. Through football, I was able to get through the ordeal and handle the situation much better than I did when I was younger. My teammates and coaches were there to support me the entire process. Playing football helped to keep my mind off of what was going on and I don't think I would be where I am not only physically but mentally if it weren't for the game of football. Going through that entire process only helped to better me as a person and a player, and thankfully my mother is now in remission.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: Everything about playing football has been a great experience. From the off season workouts to the Oklahoma drills to the hours spent watching film, playing football has added another dimension to my life. However, the most enjoyable part about playing football for me has to be the ultimate team aspect. No other sport is created in such a way where you actually need to be all in as a team in order to be truly successful. When I'm playing on the field I know that I'm not only playing for myself, but also for the other ten people on the field with me that have Bloomfield on their jersey. My coach tells us before every game to take a good look at the people sitting beside us. Instead of playing for myself, I go out on that field and pour my heart out for my teammates and know that they're doing the same.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I'm not on the field I like to spend most of my time with my teammates or my friends and family. All of my teammates are great people and we have become close friends because of our bond through football. In the locker room Coach Carter often says, "The people sitting around you now are the people that you're going to stay friends with for the rest of your life." I believe in this one hundred percent because of everything we have gone through as teammates. All in all, having connections with people is important to me and I strive to make be a difference in someone's day. When at home I enjoy watching movies with my family.

  • Nominee Photo

    Thomas Zdroik

    Linebacker
    Hillsborough High School
    Hillsborough, NJ

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    Thomas Zdroik

    Linebacker
    Hillsborough High School
    Hillsborough, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To me Will is the most important characteristic that I have. I truly believe that the word student always comes before athlete. Football ends for everyone one day and education stays with you forever. Athletes everywhere must work hard on the field and harder in the classroom for education gets you into college and into a good job. Ever since I started school and playing football my parents and coaches preached that education always comes before sports. I work hard every day in the classroom and respect my teachers and coaches to the best of my ability. Will, to me, is the greatest attribute a student athlete can have.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Recently my Dad was diagnosed with colon rectal cancer and the cancer has spread to small parts of his liver and lungs. The day I found out this information devastated me, however it also made me realize that my Dad is the strongest man I know and if he's going to fight cancer I'm going to fight too. Every practice, game, assignment and class I work to make my dad and my family proud. I have so much love and respect for the people around me and I feel that to earn their friendship and love back I have to strive in every environment and situation to be the best that I can be.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: To me football has given me so much over the past 12 years. Many of my friendships have come from the game of football and has allowed me to make some of the greatest friends that I could ask for. Football is a game of camaraderie and teamwork, no one individual can win the game for a team, the team must bond with each other and have great chemistry. Football also must be fun and enjoyable. If football was just serious all the time, which at some times it has to be, it wouldn't be any fun, but with the endless jokes on the field and watching others succeed with you is a feeling you won't find in many other places.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Being an athlete takes up a lot of an individuals time and effort which is why I make it a goal of mine to talk with others and help them if they need support. My mom always told me that it's nice to be smart, but it's smarter to be nice. Once I heard that saying I immediately changed my mindset. I believe that by helping others you create a unique image around yourself and people will respect and enjoy your presence more. Whether I'm just out with friends, supporting someone through hard times or at a helpful event I always respect whoever I am with and try my best to earn their respect in return.

  • Nominee Photo

    Hunter Hughes

    Running Back
    Newfield High School
    Seldon, NY

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    Hunter Hughes

    Running Back
    Newfield High School
    Seldon, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I feel that I have a lot of "dedication" to my team. Dedication to my coaches by being respectful and hardworking. Dedication to my teammates by being supportive of them and to help the team in any and every aspect that I can. Dedication to myself to be the best student, athlete, teammate and the best person that I can be.I show my dedication by always putting in 100% effort in all that I do. I maintain a 94 GPA in school. I attend football workouts while I am still in wrestling season and off season. I attended all practices while injured. I worked hard at my recovery so that I could rejoin the team at 100%. I am always willing to do what the coaches ask of me, putting the team before myself.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I have been lucky to NOT have encountered much adversity in my life so far. I have a very supportive and loving family and have had success in both athletics and academics. Recently though, I had to deal with a very painful back injury. This injury could have kept me out of the whole season, but I did what I had to do and took care of myself to get back as soon as I could. I had been feeling some lower back pain for a while. In gym class one day last spring, I swung a bat and felt extreme pain. I couldn't even run to first base. After X-rays, Mri's and CAT scans I was diagnosed with Spondylosis. I have stress fractures in my lower lumbar on both sides of the L5. This happened in May. I had to sit out of all activity and attend physical therapy. At the end of July I was aloud to return to modified activity, no contact yet though. I was still experiencing pain, but I did what I could and my school athletic trainer and coaches were very supportive. I took breaks as needed and iced. My last appointment with the orthopedic was in mid August. I was basically pain free and the doctor approved a full return to activity and sports. The first day back, I must have pushed myself too hard and was feeling a lot of pain again. The doctor was away on vacation and I had to wait a week to hear what he thought of it. That meant sitting out of practices for another week. Finally, I was able to return in time for our last scrimmage before the season opener. But, now I know that I will have always have some pain and will need to know my limitations and learn to manage it.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I love the game of football. I have been playing since I was 6 yrs old. I like the brotherhood of being part of the team and the camaraderie among my teammates. Of all the sports I have played in, I like football the most because it creates a bond like no other. Some of my past teammates have quit football to concentrate on their other sports. Some think I should do the same. I will never do that. My team depends on me and I love the sport too much. I love the contact and the lifelong friends that I have made throughout the years in this sport. Football has been and will continue to be a big part of my life for the rest of my life.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:While I am not on the field, I like spending time with my family, wrestling, working out and participating in activities with my school's Varsity leaders club.I spend a lot of time wrestling in the Winter and Spring. Summer and Fall are dedicated to Football. I have been wrestling for the Varsity team since the 8th grade. I have been named as an "All league" wrestler in my 9th and 10th grade years. My goal is to be Newfield's first ever wrestling state champion. I have been involved in activities with the Leaders Club in the community. Some of these things include donating my time with other school activities. I have helped at a preschool in my school district with their field day.In my free time, I like to go to a local gym and workout to keep up my strength and conditioning. I also like to watch movies and TV series at home with my family and I occasionally play Madden on my Xbox with my brother and friends.

  • Nominee Photo

    Emilio Briones

    Wide Receiver
    Bogota Junior/Senior High School
    Bogota, NJ

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    Emilio Briones

    Wide Receiver
    Bogota Junior/Senior High School
    Bogota, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I feel like the criteria that best suites me is dedication. I am willing to do whatever my teammates and coaches are asked of me. Throughout my high school career I have changed my position several times on offense and defense. My team comes first and foremost. I was fortunate to be named a captain by the team and the coaching staff because of my commitment to our program.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: At a very young age I developed a stutter and was bullied for it. I always felt alone and scared to be a part of a group. With football I felt like a was truly wanted. And back at school my team mates would help me and they become my family on and off the field. I have fortune to still play with those same guys and I am happy to call them my family.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: I enjoy playing with my closest friends. My coach always tells us, “ you dont have to play football you get to play football.” I have been playing with these same guys since my rec year, third grade. And every time we strap our shoulder pads and hear the click from our chinstraps it makes me feel honored to go to war with them.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:I spend time with my team off the football field. Wheather we are in the weight room or just hanging out with a fire pit at someone’s house. I also get prepared for baseball season. But football is my passion, I get our younger players prepared during the winter and spring. Making sure everyone is doing the right thing at school and even after school. I love my team, they are my second family.

  • Nominee Photo

    Jeffrey Adeclat

    Linebacker
    Suffern High School
    Suffern, NY

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    Jeffrey Adeclat

    Linebacker
    Suffern High School
    Suffern, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Growing up as a kid I didn't have much to start with. My family and I moved over 20 times to find a suitable neighborhood for us to live in. I've attended many of schools from 5 to 14 years old. I went to 5 different elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 1 high school. Coming here to Suffern was my happiest and the best decision I've made since moving around. My family decided to move upstate my sophomore year and I decided I wanted to stay and finish my high school football experience with the mounties. I no longer live with my parents and haven't gotten much contact with them since the departure. It was extremely tough at first but dealing with the adversity and the love from the town made me realize this is a place I can finally call home out of all my years of moving. My will to work and better myself everyday is over the top amazing. I want to make it somewhere one day to help my family out and show everyone that's doubting me that i can make it somewhere in life.I was never the kid to complain about going to school. Education is very important to me, I wake up everyday having the want to learn something new everyday and being able to also keep my mindset right for practice right after school everyday. I love pumping my teammates up after making a good or bad play, I'm always there to bring them up and keep them enjoying every bit of the game. A common goal I'd love to reach is making it to the pros, as small as I am now pushes me to get myself in the right spot to make the draft one day in the future and coming back home to the football team and telling everyone my hard working journey to the pros. I'm Jeffrey Adeclat and I have a Heart of a Giant.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Every year as a kid i knew I'd be moving again and it was very devastating to make new friends everyday to soon leave them behind. Playing football has made me overcome those little sad bits of moving and made them enjoyable. The sport of football isn't just hitting someone else in another jersey, it's about brotherhood and how picking each other up after every down is so amazing about this game. Many of my friends come from playing football, I've been on 9 different football teams and every single one was pure excitement everyday. Football made me realize not everything in life is fair but once you overcome the bad parts and work hard the good things will start flowing your way.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: The sport of football is honestly a place where I can sometimes release intense built up stress. I like to say football has made me see things in life very differently. Not everyone tells their story but I know there is always a story behind someone so it opens me up to be grateful and generous to everything and everyone I encounter in life. Without football I wouldn't see myself as the person I am now because of the adversity it brings to the game. I love defense, I like to challenge myself every play to see what I can do from stopping someone from getting past me on every drive. Football has all my love and desire to keeping pushing forward and keep grinding through everything.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I'm not playing football i like to kick back with a couple of my friends. I'm a very active person so you would most likely find me playing a pick up game at our local basketball courts or see me catching a few routes with a couple of my friends at the football field. I also volunteer at The Mahwah Elks that is an organization that helps disabled kids get the right amount of fun things at camps and help donate money for their causes each and everyday. We also rent out our party room for anyone interested to throwing a little party or family gathering that i like to cater and help out with time to time. In this upcoming off season I'd like to reach out further and help with cleaning up the community I live in and other communities around me for the greater good of the environment.

  • Nominee Photo

    Darnel Shillingford

    Linebacker
    Putnam Valley High School
    Putnam Valley, NY

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    Darnel Shillingford

    Linebacker
    Putnam Valley High School
    Putnam Valley, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe that among the criteria, the one I exhibit the most is Will. It simply is apparent in the academic standard I have held myself at throughout my education career. I have mainted at least a 95 GPA throughout both high school and middle school. Also, I have taken 5 AP level courses and two years of college level Spanish on top of that. During all this I have played both varsity football and basketball all 4 years of high school and been a captain for both since my sophomore year.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Playing football has helped me develop a relationship with my brother that was almost nonexistent. Us being 6 years apart I feel only put us at a disadvantage. We weren’t close enough in age to be beat friends like some brothers, and we also weren’t far apart enough for him to be more of a teaching figure in my life. Many times we would only fight when I was younger that led me to be genuinely very scared of him. This relationship started to change as we grew older and he went to play football in college. The relationship took a huge turn when he came back from college and became an assistant coach on the varsity football team as I entered my junior year. We became very close over that season of football and has carried on so far in our lives. If I had not been playing football, I would probably still not have a relationship that I desired so much between my brother and I.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: What I enjoy most about playing football is the relationships that are developed because of it. There is always a place for anyone on a football team and I have seen football be a gateway for kids that have trouble making friends. This game brings very different people together because of the struggle and hardships everyone endures together. Football has helped me meet people that I otherwise probably would have never talked to.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I also enjoy playing basketball when I am not playing football. I have played on many aau teams throughout the years. I enjoy the many different tournaments because I’ve seen vast parts of the country that I would not have if it wasn’t for these tournaments. Some of the places I have seen are Pittsburgh, Virginia, Florida, almost all of New England, and also almost all of lower New York. These experiences have shown me why life is like outside of the Hudson Valley and the different type of athletes in these areas.

  • Nominee Photo

    John Beveridge

    Offensive Line
    Brick High School
    Brick, NJ

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    John Beveridge

    Offensive Line
    Brick High School
    Brick, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I personally believe that I demonstrate all of the criteria that defines having the "Heart of a Giant". Commitment because throughout my football career I have always been there for every event, every work out, every practice, anything I could go to, to improve the way football is played. Dedication because no matter what kind of health issues I have had I have always pushed through them. Will because I stay after school at least once a week with a teacher to make sure I understand everything I learn in the classroom. Character because whenever a team mate is struggling, I give them a military-style yell to get them back on track. Lastly, teamwork because with out the team there would be no point of practices and games. We play together.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: On October 31, 2017, after passing out at football practice, I was rushed to CHOP Hospital. The doctors discovered that I had Fibroelastoma which required open heart surgery. The surgery not only abruptly ended my football season in 2017, it prevented me from participating in any physical activity for eight weeks. After eight weeks of recovering, I was finally able to return to the gym to start training for the 2018 football season. During this time, my football team showed great support and concern which helped motivate me to recover quickly. Knowing that I was going to eventually be able to return to playing football with my team helped me overcome the adversity during this frightening time of my life.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    A: The thing that I enjoy the most about football is the camaraderie with my teammates. We all work together to accomplish the same goal. I also enjoy the traditions that my school has developed with the football team like having game day meals together and participating in community events. I also enjoy football because it is physically competitive. It requires that you be in great physical and mental shape.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Off the field, I love to fish and spend time on the water with my family. I also enjoy the beach and spending time with my friends. I am also a cadet with NJ 822 Air Force Junior ROTC which gives me the opportunity to learn about aerospace science and provide community support with our local VFW.

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  • Nominee Photo

    Michael Oeckel

    Wide Receiver
    Harrison High School
    Harrison, NJ

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    Michael Oeckel

    Wide Receiver
    Harrison High School
    Harrison, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Character is what suits me best. When I am on the field I’m not a very vocal guy. I do something in hopes that my teammates will follow. Being a 4 year member of the varsity football team, I try to lead by example whenever I can. Some people don’t take to verbal criticism or follow by something that someone said. People might need a visual example to follow. On and off the field I try to be that example.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When my grandfather passed away I needed a place to forget about it. Football was my get away. The friendships I’ve made and the brotherhood I’ve been a part of is incomparable. Football gave me a sense of family that I never had. The energy is great and when I’m at practice or in the locker room I can forget about my problems. Being a part of the program got me back on my feet and helps me forget about what I have going on.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I enjoy most about football is the memories I make. Things I won’t forget in the years to come. Whether it’s a good one or a bad one I will always have something to talk about. Also the unbreakable bonds I have created with my teammates. I know that if something came up I can rely on my brothers to help me get through whatever it is.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Off the field, I volunteer at Camp Fatima, a camp for children with special needs. I have been going for three years and will be going for many more. Dedicating my time there enables me to gain a different outlook on life. It makes me think twice when I want to complain about something that isn’t that serious. Camp will always be a second home to me and will always have a special place in my heart.

  • Nominee Photo

    Billy Young

    Running Back
    Newton High School
    Newton, NJ

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    Billy Young

    Running Back
    Newton High School
    Newton, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Growing up playing football in a football family for more than a decade for me was a blessing and a curse. As a sophomore I was starting offense and defense on an extremely talented team. However, during a scrimmage before the season even started, I was hit and my neck snapped back and my entire spine, hands, and feet felt like they were on fire. This pain did not go away . Eventually I went to a doctor seeking a diagnosis but I remained calm expecting everything to be fine. About three days later I got the news that I was born with a condition called spinal stenosis, and that I was lucky to not be paralyzed from the neck down. My football career was over, I was stripped of the thing I loved most, and I was demoralized. Despite the pain that this setback has left me with, I continue to push on still staying involved as an active member for my high school football team. I serve as a coach, a motivator, and an inspiration. Every game someone who exemplifies hardwork and success is chosen to represent me on the field, wearing my jersey labeled with the number 24. Last year we won our first state championship ever in the 99 years of Newton football, and even though I am not on the field I still feel as if I played a large role in the championship. I am at almost every practice coaching up the team and pushing them to be their best on every play, because you never know what down could be your last.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: If I had never played football I would have never been forced to overcome such a challenging obstacle. My inability to play football has forced me to become extremely unselfish. I know I could have been scoring touchdowns under the lights every Friday night during the fall. I know that I could have been a well respected player. And I know I would have been a big time player on our state title run. But this whole scenario has forced me to be just as happy watching my teammates score touchdowns and catch interceptions, as I would be if I was the one actually making plays. I now feed off of the success of others, and without football that would not be the case.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    When I played football, my favorite thing about the sport was the true feeling of being part of a team or family even. The bonds that football forces you to make with your teammates are uncomparable and foreign to athletes who play other sports. The friendships I have made through the beautiful sport will never be broken and that is something I will always be so grateful for.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:My life revolved around football when I played. When it was ripped away from me I had a severe gap in my life. But over time I discovered new things to love. Music has played a tremendous role in helping me recover from my situation. I have learned to play the guitar, ukulele, and sometimes I even write my own songs. I read books on my favorite rock bands, and travel to go see concerts whenever I can. When I am really feeling myself Ill shred it up on rock band as well.

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    Gina DeLeonardis

    Offensive Line
    Longwood High School
    Middle Island, NY

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    Gina DeLeonardis

    Offensive Line
    Longwood High School
    Middle Island, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe Commitment defines having the "Heart of a Giant" primarily because when you are committed to something, you spend most of your time putting in a lot of effort when you could be doing anything else that isn't as challenging to you. You could easily give up and have no commitment, but when you are committed, it isn't that easy to let go. Commitment takes a lot, there are no days off. No matter if you are sick, or have a bad day, commitment is when you are excited to get on that field because you know no matter what you're going through, practice and your teammates will make everything better. Commitment is when everyone is going out at night on a Friday and have fun, but you have practice that day. You're so committed that you honestly rather not go to that party, because it'll never be like football. I have had many nights where I haven't gotten much sleep, where I was terribly sick, where my grandma was in the hospital for her last breaths, and I was so committed to this sport that none of that affected my playing ability because I knew that if I wasn't there, it would make my situation worse. That's why I believe Commitment defines having the "Heart of a Giant", because when you are committed you put that as your first priority.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Since I was young I faced adversity when I started playing football. I was only 7 when I started playing, and even at that young age I was doubted, rooted against and hated. Even my some of my own family at times didn't believe in me, or always questioned why I even played considering I was a girl playing a male dominated sport. There was only one answer for that, I loved the sport and I was pretty good at it, too. But that didn't mean much to some of my family members, or outsiders, or the parents of the boys on my team. Nobody believed that I would be able to take a hit, or last for more than a year or so. Believe it or not I was the hardest hitter on the team. Always running in when they needed somebody and always excited to do tackling drills. I was on the starting o-line basically my whole life growing up because I was the hardest working one on the field. My teammates over time got used to me, and everything was normal and I just was so happy. But as I continued to get older, I still faced much hate. I didn't mind it much, because why should I care what other people think of me. I am playing for me, not for them. It got so bad to the point where other teams would start fights with me, I have gotten spit on, called harsh, disgusting names, gotten my pony tail pulled, and even one time the referee said something to me that'll stick with me forever. There was a play, I was getting a quick rep in at defensive tackle my JV year, and the opposing team offensive line was holding me so badly that my jersey was being basically yanked off. I looked at the ref as he was watching this happen, considering it should've been a holding flag, and he looked me straight in the eyes and told me "Well girls shouldn't be on the field anyways". Everyone who was against me and didn't believe in me now watches me still playing in my senior year on Varsity, and I wonder what they think. Even though I faced adversity while playing a sport I loved, the difficulties I faced would never compare to the amount of fun and compassion I have felt playing my whole life.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    I enjoy many things about playing football. I really enjoy the fact of teamwork and brotherhood. The fact that I have all of these boys that are not only my teammates but brothers to me is something I truly admire. I know I have 48 kids that have my back and believe in me. They are also a support system and I know they'll be there for me when I need them. I also really enjoy playing time obviously, working hard all week and being able to get back what you put in throughout the week is an amazing feeling. I enjoy my coaches and how they encourage everyone to go 100% even when someone feels they can't. Football is a very physical demanding sport, and I enjoy the fact that it makes me stronger, faster, disciplined, and being apart of such an amazing program is something I am thankful for.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I am not playing football I usually spend a lot of time with my family. I visit my cousins and grandpa since he lives alone now, just to see how they are doing. I also used to volunteer at a nursing home, I do not volunteer currently anymore because my high school schedule suddenly got very busy, but I would like to do it again. I visit my grandma who passed away in 2016, I go to her grave and bring her flowers. I also like to hangout with my friends that I known for basically my whole life. After football season ends I am going to apply for a job. My sister works at a daycare, I enjoy helping little kids and working with them so I went many times to visit and help out. I also enjoy getting all of my school work done early because I know if I don't, I will be packed with so much work at the end of the week, along with many practices ahead of me that'll shorten the time that I have to get things completed.

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    Zachary Bayon

    Wide Receiver
    Marlboro High School
    Marlboro, NY

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    Zachary Bayon

    Wide Receiver
    Marlboro High School
    Marlboro, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Dedication can easily define having the "Heart of a Giant". The drive and ambition to face the obstacles presented in life, overcoming the fear of failure, working through the pain, and striving to be the best you can. That dedication, the fear, the pain, the drive, and the hard work is all worth it in the end. I have been there, presented with obstacles and health issues, but my drive and ambition to play football again made me push hard, endure the pain, and get back on my feet. My dedication pushed me to overcome my hardships and the perseverance to continue. The Heart of a Giant is true grit.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Mid-year of my freshman year of high school, March of 2016, I found myself somewhere unexpected. I found myself sitting in a hospital room. I had broken my left lower leg in two areas, the tibia and fibula as a result of an ATV accident. My biggest concern to the doctor was if I was able to play football for my sophomore season. Quite frankly, he looked at me like I was crazy. Hearing that it wasn’t likely for me to play football wasn’t easy. I had to endure multiple surgeries, a temporary rod was placed in my left lower leg but later removed because a bad infection set in. My tissue was severely damage so I had to have a muscle flap tissue transplant performed. They removed part of my muscle in my left calf to overlay my left frontal area. I then sported an external fixator brace on my leg for a couple of months. I worked day and night to get my leg back in shape to just walk normally, always keeping my sights on being ready for football, regardless of what the doctor said. Months of physical therapy. I did it too. Not for that football season - the doctor was right about that - but I was ready for basketball season. The morning of tryouts, I was in gym class playing around. I went up for a layup and as I came down I knew. My leg was broken again. I was back in the hospital, it seems the infection had set into my bones, not allowing the bones to heal properly. This time they removed my bone marrow and inserted a permanent titanium rod from my knee to my ankle. I had to endure recovery all over again and physical therapy. I was determined to play again, aside from the adversities I faced. I couldn’t stand the idea of missing another football season, playing with my best friends. It was hard. I was mad and I wasn’t always easy on the people who stuck by my side, but football was always on the horizon. My friends were out playing like they always had and I wasn’t okay with it. I refused to sit on the side line for my junior year football season, so I didn’t. Hours of therapy, and a lot of cussing, if I’m honest, I did it. I was back on the field with my friends. Maybe not as fast as I was before, but I knew that if I kept working, I’d get back. That’s all I could do. Keep my head up and grind it out. I also joined a sports training facility in the area to get my leg ready for football. It worked. I was able to play my junior year, I was back on the field playing the game I love with great support from my coach, my teammates and family. Now a senior, I continue to push myself to do better, on and off the field. We are a close team, a family. My advice to others that may face adversity.... focus, know what you want, set a goal, work hard, and grind it out. It's all possible. Dream big!

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    When I was eight years old, my parents put me in a youth football program. I was nervous. I was a pretty shy kid. Within a couple practices where all the kids ran around with generally no idea of what we were doing, I started building what I would later realize was some of the most important relationships in my life. There was a group of five of us that our parents still joke are inseparable, and it’s because we are. When we were eight, we helped each other learn how to throw that perfect spiral. Now it’s not so different. We are helping each other decide what’s next, on and off the field. Football gave the shy, eight year old version of me, the friends, relationships and confidence I needed to be who I am today.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:My injury kept me bedridden for much longer than I could stand. Now that I’m back on my feet and back on the field, my excitement for winter is out of control. That sounds weird knowing that, living in NY, we’ll be stuck with more snow than we want for a while after football season is over, but I can’t wait to get back on my snowboard. The feeling of freedom I get from flying down the mountain is unmatched. I even recently taught my older brother to snowboard, and I’m not going to lie, the feeling of doing circles around him as he slowly falls down the mountain is pretty hilarious too.

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    Kenny Espinel

    Wide Receiver
    Floral Park Memorial High School
    Floral Park, NY

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    Kenny Espinel

    Wide Receiver
    Floral Park Memorial High School
    Floral Park, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:To me, teamwork is in my blood. Since I was able to play sports, I've always enjoyed being part of something bigger than me. Teamwork is working together with people who want to reach common goal and you learn to care about them as if they were your immediate family. I have found myself working day in and day out, year-round and somehow you always find yourselves there for each other - in good or bad circumstances, on the field and off the field. Being around the same group of people for an extended period of time can help you observe the small signs that let you know if they are in need to have someone pick them up when they are down or, just pat them on the back for when they do well. Bad circumstances can bring a team closer together making the good circumstances feel so much better. I've experienced both sides, highs and lows and have been on a winning and losing end but, the beautiful thing about being on a team is that you can always count on somebody having your back on those tougher moments when you need them the most. Being on a team is being part of a family.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When I was going into 7th grade, my family and I moved to a new town. I had great anxiety and stressed over not knowing anyone and having to step out of my comfort zone to meet new people. Luckily for me, I knew only one way to finally meet new people - sports. It was September 2013 and football season just began. I never played tackle football before and I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to be good either. Being the "new kid" in town, a lot of people on the team went out of their way to not only meet me and make me feel welcome, but also teach me how to play and tackle. Not only do I still use that advice for myself, I pass it on to my now 7th grade brother as well in order to help him succeed on the football field and learn to love it as I do.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    One of the biggest rushes in football is being on a team where you have guys who really love each other as brothers. During practices, you may fight and butt heads but the moment you step off the field, you realize you are closer with your brother than before. Even in the most extreme weather conditions - whether it be during heat waves in the summer or rainstorms in the fall, you find yourself pushing the person next to you in order to get the best out of them to ultimately benefit your team. Creating bonds among each other makes you want to push yourself the best you can possibly be and know that the feeling of family and commitment is the same on and off the field. Even when the season ends, and everyone moves on to different sports or even graduates and moves to a college far away, you find yourself still keeping the relationships with your teammates the same as you had during your season as if it never ended.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:It may sound repetitive, but I am fortunate enough to have great teammates who are also my friends that I enjoy spending time with off the field. I enjoy playing basketball both competitively and leisurely and watching both college and professional games on T.V. of course, like most high school kids, I also enjoy spending time on social media watching funny videos and sports highlights. I especially enjoy beating my friends in Madden and NBA 2K on PS4, all in good competitive nature and fun.

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    Koby Lee

    Running Back
    Brooklyn Technical High School
    Brooklyn, NY

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    Koby Lee

    Running Back
    Brooklyn Technical High School
    Brooklyn, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Even more than usual, character has been a particularly important trait to me. While I am vocal when I feel the need to be, I have always been a “lead by example” type of player since I first started playing Junior Pee Wee football. Maybe this is because I am used to being one of the smaller players and feel the need to prove myself every time I strap on my helmet. One of the things that I love about football is that everything is earned on the field and nothing is just given from season to season, game to game, practice to practice. Our team does not have the most gifted athletes and we don’t have a lot of players. For Brooklyn Tech Football to be successful, we have to be the hardest working, most dedicated, and disciplined student athletes out there. This can’t be something that we just talk about. We have to “walk the walk”. This starts from inside every single player and that starts with me. This past year, we are learning a lot about character for not only myself, but for our program as well. You may or may not know this, but our head coach left the program last Spring and around the same time we lost our field too (for renovations). A replacement for Coach Mac wasn’t named until halfway through the summer. So for what seemed like the longest time, we were without a coach, without a field (in NYC no less...and there are no extra fields in NYC), and without a clue about what was going to happen with next season. More than ever before, character and leading by example was what I relied on to help get our program through this uncertain time. All those sayings that we like to use about “next man up,” “do your job,” and “players play,” we had to live those values right then and there. I recognized that even more than ever it was critical for me, and the leadership of our team, to be visible and to stay steady focusing on putting in our off season work and controlling what we can control. This is especially important for our program with the young guys since the JV often gets rolled up with the varsity, and many guys have never even played tackle football before. We have gotten a great head coach and we have a practice field now (it’s uneven, the lines are faded, it’s not numbered, and we have no goal posts, but it’s home now). It’s never been easy to be a Brooklyn Tech football player, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. My character, OUR character, has been repeatedly tested and because of our resilience and perseverance we’re looking forward to what the future holds.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I almost feel guilty writing about this because as I read all of the incredible Heart of a Giant stories about adversity, I find those athletes so inspiring. Their ability to fight through illnesses, hard circumstances, or just really bad luck is truly amazing and I’m humbled to have my story alongside theirs. It’s one that I’m sure many of you can relate to and may have experienced yourselves at some point, but if it can help even one other player then it’s worth sharing. One of my lowest points came during the 2016 season when I broke my leg during our first game. For those 3 months, football was the cause of my adversity, the source of my sanity, and the motivation to get me through all at the same time. I was looking forward to having a big sophomore year and everything was looking great through the 1st half. I had rushed for almost 150 yards, had a touchdown, and our team was up. Then in an instant, it all came crashing down. It was an ordinary run on an ordinary play call, but at the end of it my leg was broken. To add insult to injury (literally) the other team came back and we lost. The moment the doctor told me that my season was over, it felt like someone had ripped my heart out. All of the hard work and hope for my season was gone. I felt like I had let my teammates and coaches down, and somewhat selfishly, it felt like football had taken something away from me. However, as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I channeled my extra energy into other ways that I could help the team even if I wasn’t on the field. I started coaching up the other players, spending extra time on film, and learning to see the game from another angle. I’m proud to say that even though I wouldn’t play another down that season, I was still at every practice, at every game, and continued serving as a captain for my brothers. I also knew that I would still be playing in an invitational all-star game during the holidays, so that gave me the extra motivation to take my rehab that much more seriously and it kept me going through all the tough times. I can’t begin to tell you how good that first hit felt even though I was the one getting hit. We all know that injuries are a part of the game and it’s just such a helpless feeling, but it doesn’t have to be a lost cause. My experience taught me how to turn negatives into positives. It reignited my love for the game and to truly appreciate every moment that you have on the field with your teammates and coaches. I have taken those lessons and applied them to every aspect of my life. It’s made me a better player, a better teammate, a better student, and a better person. So while football can take a lot out of you, it gives you so much more in return if you allow it to.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The grind. I love everything about the grind because you know that it all counts. There are no shortcuts on the football field and everything has to be earned. All of the blood, sweat, and tears. Every rep in the weight room, every rep on the field, every mental rep you take in your mind. Each minute in practice, each minute watching tape, each minute in a game, It all matters and the best part of it is that you get to do it with your brothers. Every season is its own journey, and you know that journey begins the Monday after your last season ends. Games are the fun part and the part of the story that everyone else gets to see and enjoy. What I enjoy most about football is what goes on behind the scenes. As players we get to write that part of story based on what we do when the lights are off. The highlight of my football career so far was being able to hand the game ball to my head coach (Coach Adewumi) after we won our opening game this year in OT. It was his first varsity win and after all that we had been through as program this off-season, it was especially satisfying. We didn’t have a head coach until August. We didn’t know where we were practicing or even where the first game would be played until the second week of August. We tuned out all of the haters and the doubters, and we just kept grinding. As players we kept working on our craft, kept working with our coaches when we could, and kept faith in the program. That game wasn’t won on “Stanford Crack West” when we ran it into the end zone. The real victory came when we took the field that day and the game was won with each and every player’s commitment and hard work over a difficult off season. Maybe it’s because I lost a season to injury and know that this can be taken away at any time, but I cherish every second that I get to be a football player (although it’s probably a little less so in the middle of conditioning) and that’s why I love the grind.

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    Gavin Bean

    Linebacker
    Hauppauge High School
    Hauppauge, NY

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    Gavin Bean

    Linebacker
    Hauppauge High School
    Hauppauge, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe that commitment is most applicable to myself as a person as I can confidently say that most people who know me see me as one of the hardest working people. My philosophy in life in general is to be the hardest worker in the room and it is because of this hard work that I have achieved so many of my goals. As soon as my junior year of football ended, I immediately started training with one of my coaches Monday through Saturday to ensure that I would be happy with my performance next year as a senior. During some of these workouts, I truly didn't know if I was capable of finishing that last rep or that last sprint up the hill. Throughout my months of training, I was taught that your body is much stronger than your mind allows it to be. It was my brain telling me I couldn't finish the workout but in reality, I was still very capable. It was because of these workouts that my bench press went up 40 pounds within a few months and I saw drastic improvements in many of my major lifts. The rigor of these workouts were beyond anything I had ever done and while some days I felt tired and exhausted I knew that it was just my mind holding me back from wanting to work hard. Ever since I finished this training, which lasted from roughly November to August, I have never allowed my mind to have more control over me than my body and will continue to be believe that I am capable of more things than my mind allows me to be. Also, as a captain of my football team, I was chosen to be a leader and am always trying to lead by example. I am in the locker room before everyone to make sure that everyone fulfills their tasks of the day (bringing water, med kit, etc. out to the practice field). To make sure that all of that stuff along with the pads we use during practice go away in their proper place, I am also the last one out of the locker room every day. I take what I do in the sport of football very seriously because I feel that I have put too much time into practice and training to only be mediocre.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Most of my high school career has forced me to overcome some kind of adversity. My parents divorced when I was in middle school but I would still see both my mom and dad on a regular basis. With both parents working pretty low income jobs, I was forced to experience firsthand the power of money on a person as my mom actually attempted suicide because of her financial stress and the idea of another woman (my, at the time, soon to be stepmom) raising her children. Despite this I lived with my mom through my freshmen year of high school before we were evicted from the home I've lived in since kindergarten. Having really nowhere else to go, we stayed in one of my good friend's basement which we turned into an apartment using a bed sheet to separate bedroom from "living room". I'll never forget the day we moved in there and my mom breaking down crying because she knew she would be miserable here. The only place for me to sleep in this basement was on the couch. I made the decision to move in with my dad where I stayed in what was a full sized house but still a makeshift bedroom with just enough room for a bed. While I felt awful leaving my mom and sister by themselves in this apartment, I was also very worried about the idea of moving to an entirely different school. After about three months of living here and adjusting to a new school, me my father and my stepmom decided that we needed to move to a new house because my stepmom now wanted a child of her own and we had no space in this house for a nursery. After moving schools again, which was difficult for me as I used to be a bit shy and not as outgoing, I decided to rejoin football again after taking a year off during my sophomore year. It wasn't until I joined football that I made some true friends. I finally felt like I fit in somewhere and now have friends on the team that I will remember for life. When I'm on the field I don't think about all of the struggles my parents are going through or how my sister is doing living in my friend's basement in a different school. Football has become a huge part in my life and has given me an escape from what used to feel like constant stress at home.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I enjoy most about football is that I am apart of something bigger than myself. While I put a lot of stress on myself to make sure I am doing whatever I can to be great, I recognize that this is a team sport and that I need 10 other guys besides myself to make sure they know what they're doing and doing it to the best of their ability. I believe that is what makes success in football so rewarding. While I put my body through a week of tough workouts and practices, nothing feels better than to be rewarded with a win because I know that everyone else was working hard this week. Being a part of a football team really defines what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself. I have found that these people I see every day are more than just my teammates and I am grateful to call all of them my family.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I'm not playing football I enjoy spending time with friends and watching Netflix like a normal teenager but I rarely have enough time for either. On the weekends, as long as I don't have a game, I work long hours at a catering hall with my personal longest single shift being 18 hours. I wait and bus tables for weddings and other various parties and usually don't get home until after 2 am on a Saturday or Sunday. This is only on weekends though and after football practice during the week, I devote a lot of time to homework and studying. My grades are very important to me as I recognize that I am a scholar athlete with academics coming before sports. I hope to go on to graduate from a great school with a degree in engineering and am working very hard right now to ensure my success in the future.

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    Jaiyetoro Gordon-Younge

    Wide Receiver
    Elmont Memorial High School
    Elmont, NY

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    Jaiyetoro Gordon-Younge

    Wide Receiver
    Elmont Memorial High School
    Elmont, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:What it means to have a Heart of Giant to me is my character. I always make sure my teammates can be better than our opponent. When we lose I tell my teammates to keep their heads up. The next time we have practice we fix our mistakes. I lead by example by hustling in practice and that’s what gets my teammates ready to play because they feed off of my energy. It takes a lot to be a leader. You need to have confidence, pride, dignity, and determination. Those four things shows a character of a great leader. Strong leader equals a strong team. That’s how you get a great season to be.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: It was the short encounter with my uncle this past summer that made me realize not to take life for granted. He knew was dying of lung cancer, but everyday he always had words of encouragement for me he wore a smile on his face that one could not even image the pain he was going through. He always told me to make sure to always give 100% and more in whatever my achievements would be. He always stressed education first and sports next. As my uncle would share his life experience and difficulties he overcame in life and applied that to my own life which motivated and Inspired me. As I achieve my goal with small steps and strives to make bigger ones. As my uncle would say “the sky has no limit”.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I most enjoy about playing football is that it brings a team together as a family. It shows how much you have each other’s backs through thick and thin. There isn’t any better feeling than to be on a football team. I love the contact of the sport. Football gives you this rush just like when a child eats a whole bunch of candy. I enjoy playing the sport because it’s a competitive sport. I love playing with my teammates. It’s an active therapy because you can show your emotions in different ways while playing. I love the fact that it brings a botherhood together. I also enjoy building a relationship with the coaches.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I’m not playing football I mostly like to do extra work for school to improve my grades. I would fix cars , small motors. I also would play video games when I get the time too. These three things would keep me occupied. Especially in the spring when I have a lot of free time. The way I like to improve my grades are stay after school or even go to morning review class which would help me very much. When I would fix cars I would mostly do oil changes, brakes, tire pressure, mostly like the basic things. When I play games I usually do it when I have no homework to do or cars to fix. I like to use my video games as an award because it’s not often I get to play it. Those are my hobbies when I’m not playing football.

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    Ariel DeJesus

    Linebacker
    Sanford H. Calhoun High School
    Merrick, NY

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    Ariel DeJesus

    Linebacker
    Sanford H. Calhoun High School
    Merrick, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Will is defined as having the ambition and drive to do something. Having the will to pursue greatness not only on the field but off. This is what having the Heart of a Giant means to me. Throughout my high school football career I would always start by asking myself why people would criticize or mock something they didn’t understand. Since Calhoun football wasn’t the most respected team, people would constantly come up to me and say how come you guys don’t win, do you even try? So there I was listening to these people who clearly have no idea what I’ve been working for since I became a freshman at Calhoun. They are questioning my work ethic simply based on win/loss records they might’ve heard of in the past. I soon realized that people like that were a huge reason why I worked so hard. People like that were the reason I wanted to prove that wearing a school name on your jersey doesn’t automatically dictate whether or not your good. People like that is what drove my ambition and will to succeed, because that is what success is based on... hard work. Having the will to succeed means accomplishing your goals even if it means sacrificing everything.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I could not have been more excited about football season and entering my senior year at Calhoun, then tragedy struck. I woke up to my Mother crying and saying, “Dad is in the hospital”. My dad’s kidneys were failing and and as much as it pained him to be away from our family, he had to spend days at a time in the hospital. I knew that I would have to really step up at home. I always did things around my house and took care of my three siblings when my parents worked, but this was different, I had to be the man of the house. The day came when all the doctors and specialist decided that my Father would need surgery on his kidney to filter his blood or else he could fall into cardiac arrest. This situation was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with. It made me realize that life isn't perfect, sometimes no matter how hard you work, things arise that are out of your control; but sitting around and feeling bad was not an option and it never should be. How you handle struggle and disappointment truly defines character. I was told you can tell a persons true character when all things go wrong, and this is when I wanted to be at my best; work the hardest and support my family where I could . Almost losing my dad was one of the biggest bumps in the road, but was still a bump I was able to get over. One of the things that helped me get over this “bump” was football. Football was my outlet, a way to turn my problems into a drive to become better. Football kept my sanity and served as a distraction from all the things going on at home. It gave me the opportunity to do what I loved and take care of my football family when I had no control over my Dads situation. Walking into school for my first day of senior year was tough; knowing my Father was in the hospital fighting through the pain; he kept telling me to focus on school, our family and football. He knew the love I had for the game, and that if not for Football, I would have never got through. Football was my escape, my sanity, my love.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What the average person doesn't realize about football is that the love is not developed through wins and losses, its the comradery and bond that is made when playing this sport. Football is a family; my teammates are Brothers, Cheerleaders my sisters and the Coaches are big Brothers and Fathers. Football is the only sport in which you are only as strong as your weakest link. Its takes all 11 on both sides of the ball to have success; one player cannot win the game like in other sports. Football helped to develop my character and enhance it ten fold. It’s a game when you think you know it all, can humble you in a single play. Football takes a group of friends with different strengths and weaknesses, and turns them into a single unit with ambition, drive and goals. It is the truest TEAM sport!

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:In my spare time I like to give back to my community and school. I have been given so much by Calhoun, that I felt the urge to give back. I work with a group called “AHA”, which stands for Athletes helping athletes. We go around our school and district helping and mentoring disabled children with sports, classes and everyday activities. These are students that struggle with everyday activities and would do anything to have the opportunity that I have. It really is a humbling experience and makes you appreciate all the little things we usually take for granted. Spending time with my family and loved ones is something that I do whenever I can. They are the people I care about the most in the world; after what happened with my dad, it taught me to not take the time you have with them for granted because you never know when you may lose that opportunity. I've come to appreciate all the little things; sitting down for dinner, helping my younger siblings with their homework or having my oldest sister yelling at me to drive her places. I can honestly say I now realize and cherish every moment with them, never taking one for granted. My family is fuel behind my fire. They make me want to become the best version of me.

  • Nominee Photo

    Izaiah Henderson

    Defensive Line
    Mater Dei Prep
    Middletown, NJ

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    Izaiah Henderson

    Defensive Line
    Mater Dei Prep
    Middletown, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:The definition of character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Someone who has good character is the one who is a true leader and the one who pushes others around them to become the best that they can. I believe I am a person of good character, a true leader, and I believe I push my teammates to strive to be the greatest they can be. I believe I am a true leader because I am accountable. I will never take the credit when things go well and I will always be the one to take the blame when things go awry. When completing a task I believe I should be working with my teammates to complete said task instead of standing to the side telling them what to do. I am able to push people to be the best they can be by working hard myself and leading by example. When anyone sees someone else working their hardest they begin to work harder but if they see a senior, a starter, or a role model on the team start to slack off then they begin to give mediocre effort. That is why I will never take a rep off in the weight room and never take a play off during practice or in a game. I know that when I push myself I also am pushing my teammates to get better as well. The character that someone possesses is one of the most important parts of them and that is why I take pride in having good character.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: One of the hardest parts in life is losing a loved one. When a loved one is lost it feels like an important part of you is missing. I was able to go to my great grandpa for anything whether it was good or bad or I just needed advice. When he passed I felt alone because he was a major role model and factor in who I am today. Although I went through losing a loved one football allowed me to overcome that. Football, being one of the only sports that needs complete attention throughout all of practice or an entire game, it doesn’t allow you to think about anything else. While on the field I was allowed to focus on one thing and that was football. Being able to forget for a short period of time about all the hardships that come along with a loved one passing was a huge part with overcoming such adversity. Another way football allowed me to overcome that adversity was it allowed me to dedicate the way I play for them. Ever since I dedicated the way I play to that person it allowed me to become a better player since I’m no longer playing for just myself. Since I am also playing for someone that I loved so much it allowed me to push myself harder and step up my game. Having something that you love makes the hardships in life easier. My love for football allows that.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    There is no other sport that is even close to football. Football allows me to build myself into a better person on and off the field. Football teaches a lot of life lessons including trust, the importance of teamwork, and never giving up. On the field I need to be able to trust my teammates and teamwork is a big part of that. On the football field, we need to work together to achieve a common goal. There are eleven players on the field and if one person forgets or messes up their assignment then the entire play is compromised. Football taught me to never give up and to always persevere because sometimes you’ll be down in a game just like you things won’t go your way in life. Both on the field and in life the best option is to always keep trying no matter what. The part of football that I enjoy the most is that it is a great teacher for life lessons.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I’m not playing football I am in school, with my family, or helping around my community. Those are the three most important things in my life alongside football. An education is important to me because for everyone football ends sooner or later, whether it's an NFL player or someone who stopped playing in high school. My family is also important to me because they are the group of people that will always be there for me through good and bad and thick and thin. The third most important thing, which is giving back to the community, means a lot because I am able to help inspire little kids to follow their dreams and also help the less fortunate in times of need.

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  • Nominee Photo

    Andre Scivetti

    Offensive Line
    Cedar Grove High School
    Cedar Grove, NJ

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    Andre Scivetti

    Offensive Line
    Cedar Grove High School
    Cedar Grove, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe the characteristic of commitment defines me best as a player and person in having the "Heart of a Giant". Commitment, or unshakeable work ethic in training and preparation and being a "first one in, last one out" has been something I have not really given myself a choice in exhibiting. I know with the medical issues I have faced putting in extra effort to be bigger, better, faster and stronger prepares me to face the undeniable competition I have faced and will continue to face this season. I never truly thought I would see the day I would run on the field again, let alone get back in a game day play. Being the first one on the field to stretch just a little longer or the last one off to do one last snap reminds me everyday how grateful I should be to play the game I love. In 2015, the Giants team slogan was "embrace the grind" and it served as a constant reminder that hard work and grit win games and build legacy's. Underdogs are not favored and more likely than not they are not expected to win. I always felt like an underdog, as I faced challenges I never thought I would overcome. Commitment to myself, my team and my hunger to play the game I love made every underdog moment I conquered feel like a bitter sweet victory to remember. Commitment to every practice reminds me to work harder for the spot I never thought I would have. Commitment to my physical therapy pushes me to keep up all the progress I never thought I would see. Most importantly, commitment to myself reminds me to stay true to the person and I am and player I never thought I would see myself to be.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Everyone at some point in their lives suffers from some form of adversity. When I was in 8th grade adversity decided to knock on my door. I definitely was not ready for what was to come. As an 8th grader my only thoughts at that time was being with friends and dreaming about playing high school football. However, I noticed that I had severe pain in my knees. At first the doctors could not identify what was wrong. I decided that I would push through the pain as I was so excited to start those summer workouts with the high school football team. It was the team, especially the seniors, that got me to work past the pain and motivated me to work harder than anyone else. I wanted them to be proud of me. Then the end of freshman year hit and the pain was only getting worse and worse. I realized I could no longer walk without pain. My knees would not bend. My parents, in hysteria, brought me to a hospital. I ended up getting my first of many MRIs. After they got those MRI's back the doctor was shocked and told me and my parents that the pain in my knee was not growing pains it was a lot worse and that I had something called Osteochondritis Dissecans, or better known as OCD, in the knee. It was only for the Doctors at The Hospital for Special Surgeries that I may walk pain free again. OCD in the knee is when pieces of your knee, or lesions, are slowly decaying because they aren’t getting enough blood flow. This disease is found in around 30 kids out of 100,000 but that is only for one knee and one lesion. I had three lesions in my right knee and another three forming in my left knee. Although this was and still is a part of who I am, dreaming about being back on the football field once again gave me the will to work even harder. If I was able to complete all those morning workouts and late practices I was not going to let knee surgery take my dream away. Today I am a senior and I am back in the game living my dream.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    Friday night lights, running onto the field, the fans cheering, going up against the best and contributing to the team... Football is an enjoyable sport for so many reasons. I love and respect the coaches and my team mates. First, my coaches have made such a positive impact on my life that I will forever be grateful for. When my coaches realized that I could not play football (due to my surgery) they still wanted me to come to the practices and games and be a part of the team. They knew how important it was for me to still be a part of the game experience, cheering on my teammates and supporting everyone through every play. I enjoyed watching my friends make amazing plays and then congratulating them afterwards. I also enjoy the dedication and discipline that goes along with football. Getting up on those early mornings, even when I didn't have to, and picking up the freshmen to make sure they were on time to games or practices gave me a sense of responsibility. I remember being a freshman too and making sure they too have a positive experience is so important to me. I feel that I have developed not only as a player but also a person.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I am not on the field playing football I most enjoy spending time with my family. As a family we enjoy many outdoor activities. For example, every summer we go down the shore rent a boat and go crabbing. This is a fun activity as we spend a day on the boat and then enjoy a wonderful dinner together. This was something I was able to do even after my knee surgery. I also enjoy spending time with my friends. I started having Sunday Funday at my house where we watch games and enjoy eating buffalo wings. My goal is to try to get together with my friends as much as possible. After high school graduation I may never see some of them again. I want to create the best memories with family and friends to last a lifetime.

  • Nominee Photo

    Joseph Ciempola

    Linebacker
    Somerville High School
    Somerville, NJ

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    Joseph Ciempola

    Linebacker
    Somerville High School
    Somerville, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe that "character" applies to me the best for the "Heart of a Giant." Our high school football program is year round starting as soon as the previous season ends in December, in which we start maditory weightroom three days a week. That leads right into our summer practices with no time off in which a lot of the players start to lose interest in which I am there to insure that the pain is worth it. Attending these weightrooms and practices, I know that they get really hard and strenuous, and there is no better way to keep my teammates motivated than to just do everything we are told to do at the highest possible level I can in hopes that me leading by example makes them want to go harder. When that does not work, I vocally motivate them to try to hype them up to complete the exercise or drill at hand. As a Junior and now a current senior, I have been voted by my teammates and coaches as one of the Captains of this team. Out of the criteria, I feel that I was selected for that spot mainly because I lead by example and am one of the more inflential motivators on my team.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I started football when I was in seventh grade for a team that just did not lose. My eighth grade year we won the championship and were fifth in the state. I had high hopes for my high school football career until I started learning about he football program. My high school had one of the longest losing streaks in New Jersey history and when I was ending my freshman year there was a lot of controversial coaching changes. This discouraged a lot of people not to play and even had me questioning myself if I should. I ended up taking the chance with my friends and we went to work. My current coaches who were new at the time, came in and right off the bat they were pushing us to our limits trying to make this team the best we possibly could be. That season was the start to something extrodinary. We went into every game knowing that we were looked down on for what we were in the past until we showed them the new and improved Somerville team. That year, being my sophmore year, I was one of the few underclassmen that started on a senior filled team. This was also some personal adversity I went through because at the time my older brother was one of the senior stars on the team, and I felt like I had to prove myself to him and the rest of the team that I was capable of performing at the high level that they were. I busted my tail everyday to learn all the plays and perfect my route running and increase my endurance until I finally was a key contributor on that team. That year, we lost a heartbreaking state semi-final game in which we had a perfect season leading up to. That next offseason there was unfinished business we had. That following year, my junior class more or less ran the show. We were younger than other teams but hungrier for redemption than anyone else. We turned that adversity from losing to Rumson into beating them the following year in the State chapionship breaking there four year champions run. Not knowing what football had in store for me, I am happy that I stuck with it through all that adversity because it really shaped who I am today.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    When I grew up I played every other sport there is except for football simply because my mom would not let me. Actually, my main sport was soccer. I was the goalie because I was bigger than everyone else and found myself to be a lot more physical. I quickly learned that my physicality was a little too much for that sport and after a few very convincing conversations with my mom she finally let me play. I instantly fell in love with it. This sport is a lot different than other sports in many way, which I admire dearly. The first thing, and most important thing to me was the comradery between all the players. No other sport goes through the physical requirements that football does. Whether it is having all my brothers out there with me on the line preparing to do the tenth gasser in a row, or celebrating our state chamionship together, the emotions that we go through together is the reason why we are so close, and what makes this sport even more special to me.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Off the field, there many things I enjoy doing. In my school we have this program called Life Skills which is a class for students that have special needs. During the day, I would give up my study hall to help out in their classroom. I am also apart of the Life Skills Unified Bowling Team in which we go and compete against other schools Unified teams. I am greatful to be apart of this team because it gives these kids the opportunity to be apart of a team with their friends along with the thrill of winning that they never experienced. I am also a Peer Leader. For Peer Leadership I, along with my co-leader, are given a group of freshman in which we have breakouts (our own class with just us and them) to discuss what different situations that they will most likely go through during high school. We are there to be role models for them, as well as a friend. Outside of school and football I work for my fathers side business landscaping company. All summer, as well as winter for plowing, I have been helping him out for the past four years. I have learned most of my leadership skills and hard work ethic from working for my dad.

  • Nominee Photo

    Shadon Willis

    Wide Receiver
    Hillside High School
    Hillside, NJ

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    Shadon Willis

    Wide Receiver
    Hillside High School
    Hillside, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I have never dedicated myself to anything, before football. When football was introduced to me I saw that there was something I could be successful at. Growing up I never thought I would succeed at anything. I started life backed up on my own five yard line and the endzone seemed unreachable. As a child and one of six siblings, my parents realized they couldn’t handle the day to day struggles of parenting and we were all left abandoned. Somehow, through the grace of God, I found a way to persevere and make more of myself than anyone could have expected. I have faced loss, disappointment and rejection but I never gave up and I can finally see that unreachable endzone. Through my dedication to football I have learned that I can achieve anything and my heart grew to be The Heart of a Giant.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: We have all made bad decisions and I am no exception to that rule. While I always had the dedication to play football, I didn’t always have the resources. The summer before my freshman year I started practicing with the high school varsity team. While I could compete athletically with them I was lacking the proper equipment to really excel on the field. I went to a local sporting goods store with what little money I had in my pockets and unfortunately it wasn’t enough to cover the total cost. So I made a bad decision that would affect my entire season.I was not allowed play my freshman year and was instructed by my coach that if I wanted a future in football that I needed to end my freshman year with a 3.5 GPA. I spent a year working hard off the field concentrating on my academics. Back then I thought it was a punishment. I later came to realize it was a blessing. My actions on that summer day taught me one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The greatest thrill I get from football isn’t scoring a touchdown, catching an interception or making a sack. The best part of football for me is that feeling of accomplishment you get from working well together as a team. When we come together and complete a difficult play, rally from behind or all work together on my line I can feel the positive adrenaline rushing through me. We all can. The high energy and shared excitement my teammates and I experience on the bus ride home after a win is my favorite feeling. To call my teammates my brothers would be an understatement.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:Family has always been important to me since I had none growing up. As a child I found refuge with my aunt and uncle and their family. My cousins became another set of siblings to me. My older cousin Varrell played for the same high school team I play for and watching him play was inspiring. He was my mentor and through his teaching I am the person I am today. I try to emulate him and what he graciously did for me with siblings still in foster care and my second family, my team.

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    Duwun Priester

    Wide Receiver
    Newark Collegiate Academy
    Newark, NJ

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    Duwun Priester

    Wide Receiver
    Newark Collegiate Academy
    Newark, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Character plus dedication is what defines "Heart of a Giant" because your character is what you need to be the best that you can, and dedication is what makes you to a monster at what you do. Saying that both will make you into the best man you could be.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: The time I faced adversity in my life is my father passing. This hit me hard because I was the only boy in the house with my 5 sisters and my mom. Football helped me because it gave me another family a brothership that I never seen in basketball. It gave life to me and a different perspective on life.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I enjoy about football is the hype and the energy before the game. You're in your helmet and it's just you, no one can see you, no one can talk to you, you have fun and get ready for the game.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:What I like doing on my spare time is playing basketball, I'm also a basketball player. I work out as often as I can. I like to spend time with people that I love because you never know what will happen. You show your love to them and pray for the next day.

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    James Synder

    Running Back
    Governor Livingston High School
    Mountainside, NJ

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    James Synder

    Running Back
    Governor Livingston High School
    Mountainside, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:This "Heart of a Giant" is defined by commitment. For some, athletics comes easy. That was not my case. After being diagnosed with ADHA, it made sense as to why I had to work twice as hard as other kids. It took me longer to understand the plays and focus on the field. The one quality I possessed at a young age was speed. I knew if I gave it my all, I would one day be a starter. In High School, I made sure I was early for every practice and stayed late to talk with my coaches. Every little bit of feedback was my goal to work on the next day. Missing practice was not an option. I loved the challenge and thrived on conquering that challenge. Throughout my football career, I have always given 110% of myself whether it be to my team, the sport, or the community. I can honestly look back and stand proud that I never ever gave less of myself to my team or to myself.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: The most difficult time in my life was during my sophomore year of high school. My father passed away during football season. It came as such a shock because he was not ill. My world came crashing down. With the help of my coach and teammates, I pulled through the season a day at a time. I remember leaving my father's funeral knowing I had a game to suit up for. I knew the team needed me and I would not let them down. Driving to the game, I thanked God for the players, coaches, and the game of football itself. My passion for football and my dedication to my team kept my mind off my father's passing. That night lying in my bed, I realized, it wasn't the team that needed me, it was I who needed them.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The most enjoyable part about football is being part of a team. I have been playing football with my peers since third grade. We have built strong bonds and all work towards the greater good. When one player is having difficulties, we are there for him. We never let a man down. We have each other's back on the field and off. Since being an only child, I look forward to the time spent being part of a team. Whether we are volunteering, practicing, eating dinner the night before our game, or watching films, it's like having a huge family. I would not trade this time for anything. These guys are my brothers. I'm grateful for them all.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I'm not on the field playing football, I am wrestling. I started wrestling and football in third grade and wrestled all year round, even during football season. Since my freshman year of high school, I wrestled on the varsity team. Wrestling has instilled many great qualities in me. It has taught me discipline, responsibility, body control, the ability to overcome fear, doubt, and worries. I enjoy keeping my body healthy and fit. There is no better work out then wrestling. Maintaining weight and eating healthy is a large part of wrestling. Healthy eating, not just dieting, has become a way of life for me. I am proud of my accomplishments, body, and mind. My senior year of wrestling ended before it started, however, I will not let that stop me from a speedy recovery and make my way back to the wrestling mat.

  • Nominee Photo

    Dominic Schiuma

    Running Back
    St. Joseph-by-the-Sea High School
    Staten Island, NY

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    Dominic Schiuma

    Running Back
    St. Joseph-by-the-Sea High School
    Staten Island, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe that the criteria that best applies to me is will. I have been able to play football with setbacks from my diseases, while still being able to maintain a mid 90’s average in one of the academically challenging schools in my area. I take advantage of every opportunity to improve my football skills, whether it be going to school early or staying late after practice, while still finding time to study and do my homework. I study hard to achieve academic success, and I am equally dedicated to bettering myself in football, by attending every mandatory and optional practice, lift, and meeting, having only missed a few days across all four years when necessary for doctor appointments. I try to give my all in everything I do so that when I look back on these times I can be proud of what I did.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I have played football almost my entire life, beginning with flag football which I played until 5th grade when I started playing tackle football. Then in seventh grade I was unexpectedly diagnosed with both Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease. In the beginning I was hesitant to go back to playing sports, which I had done my whole life, as I did not know how it would affect my health. It changed my life more than I could have ever imagined, and I was scared that I would not be able to control my diseases. It was not until my freshman year of high school that I decided to go back to playing sports as I did not want to miss out on playing just because of my disease. I started with the off-season workouts which helped me to control my glucose levels and my health. Then at the beginning of the season I was able to understand how my body reacted to football and was able to better control my glucose levels. With the exception of a few times where my glucose levels either dropped too low or became too high, football has helped me to not only keep my health in check but to also become a better person. Football allows me to forget about my health problems for a few hours and just enjoy the sport and everything that comes with it.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The most enjoyable part of playing football is the brotherhood created between teammates. The bond developed between teammates is an unbreakable bond that will last for our entire life. As a team we practice, win, lose, work, celebrate, and struggle together. Every opportunity presented in football or possible because of football is in some part because of your teammates. As a team we have gone through so much and stuck together as brothers through all of it. The coaches at my school have also made my experience playing football enjoyable. They dedicate so much of their lives so that we are able to play the sport we love. They are not only just coaches, but mentors and friends who make us better people and better players. All of the people involved in making my team what it is, is what makes football so enjoyable for me as we all are working towards the same goal which is so important to us.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When not on the field or in school I usually don’t do anything extraordinary, but whenever given the chance I enjoy helping others; for example, recently in school I became a senior brother to help new incoming students with navigating the school and any other problems they may have. It also involves doing volunteer work at certain events in the school and community. My teammates and I have even done volunteer work together such as cleaning up at our local beach and volunteering at the YMCA's clothing drive to help local children in need. I enjoy helping others and seeing something positive as a result of my actions.

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    Masauri Miller

    Defensive Back
    Moore Catholic High School
    Staten Island, NY

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    Masauri Miller

    Defensive Back
    Moore Catholic High School
    Staten Island, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I think my coach would agree that I lead by example. I’ve never missed a practice or off season training session. I’m always the first one on the field and the last off. I lost both of my parents when I was an infant. I was raised by my uncle and my older brother until the Scarola family took me in. I am responsible for our motto this season that’s on all of our tee- shirts: No Victory Without Sacrifice. I’m a 2 team captain as a junior and a senior.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Growing up without parents, football was an inspiration for me. I found out at a young age that I was a talented player and my football coaches were like a second family for me. They gave me guidance and helped me in ways that other children had parents to give them guidance.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The teamwork and the camaraderie are awesome. I love putting in the hard work necessary to achieve our goals. We won a championship my sophomore year and I was the defensive MVP of the game. I am a 3 time all league selection by the NYCHSFL. His year we are 4-0 and our goal is to win another championship.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:I work with children as a camp counselor on Staten Island for one of my coaches. It’s an opportunity for me to pass on the lessons that my coaches taught me to the next generation.

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    Campbell Donovan

    Offensive Line
    Lyndhurst High School
    Lyndhurst, NJ

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    Campbell Donovan

    Offensive Line
    Lyndhurst High School
    Lyndhurst, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:My role on the team is my overall character. I motivate my teammates my teammates to do better in practice and in games. Our team has struggles but we come together to fix the problems. I consider myself as a leader even though I’m on not on the field, my team knows how much I put into this commitment everyday.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I have faced adversity a couple times around the game of football. My freshman year, we played Pompton Lakes for a spot in the state playoffs and we were down the whole game until the fourth quarter, we started to mount this comeback and I told my team to not quit and they never did. We ended up winning on a touchback and the fans started mobbing the field.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    I have never played football in my life but I have a family member in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I have been around it my whole life. If I could play football then I would’ve but it was never right for me. I love analyzing the game and see what offense and defense does even special teams. It’s a team sport but each member knows that they have an individual role to help their team win.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:I am on my schools bowling team and do the book for my schools baseball team. I play hockey for a special needs hockey program and I volunteer my time in the youth level for recreational sports as well. It is a great experience for myself to help kids out and teach them things that I learned from my coaches.

  • Nominee Photo

    Christopher Hammond

    Linebacker
    Highland High School
    Highland, NY

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    Christopher Hammond

    Linebacker
    Highland High School
    Highland, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:For me its all about character. I do my best to make sure that everyone is getting along. Its like a brotherhood on my football team. When someone makes a mistake I tell them to shake it off and get the next one. I do yell at people sometimes and that's only because I know that they can give me more and that I know they can get better. I feel that as a leader of my football team character is everything whether its on the field or in the class room people are looking up to me.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: In my sophomore season of football I got pulled up to varsity. I knew that I had a good chance to get pulled up the summer so I worked my butt off to get bigger, stronger, and faster. So I worked out for a while and by the time my season started I gained about 15 pounds of muscle. My favorite exercise was to squat. In tenth grade I was squatting over 300 pounds but with not the correct form because i taught myself everything. one day i was squatting and i felt a pop in my back and just took a few days off to rest and then I was back at going form football to the gym. About 2 games in I was having a sharp pain in my lower back. I knew it was something serious but i wasn't going to sit out and not be able to play with my brothers so i stuck it out. Football helped me go thru my injury better because its a sport that I love playing and the adrenaline, the lights, the crowd helped me get through the rough time I was in. It also didn't really help because it made my injury a little worse. I played through my whole season or almost whole with two stress fractures on my L-5 which is the closest back bone to your pelvis. It also shifted in my spinal cord which is what the sharp pain was coming from. The doctor also said I have a slightly herniated disc in my back.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I enjoy most about football is the physicality and the new friendships that I form every year with new players. I love being able to hit someone for a loss of yards, Having the crowd cheer, just the over all feeling that I get when I step on the field every time is priceless and I just cant get enough of it.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I'm not football I spend a lot of time with my friends. I am also a big outdoors men so I like to hunt, fish, and ride four wheeler. In the spring I play lacrosse and I love it because it also has some physicality like football but not as much.

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    Amir Goodwin

    Wide Receiver
    Hoboken High School
    Hoboken, NJ

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    Amir Goodwin

    Wide Receiver
    Hoboken High School
    Hoboken, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Teamwork is one of the basic skills sports can teach participants. Teamwork helps motivate participants to do their part, assisting the team to reach its ultimate goal. Teamwork also involves delegation of tasks, which is what successful leaders do every day.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Most of our fears are liars. It will tell you what they think you want to hear and you listen because you think it's real. Challenge your self-talk; you can't believe everything you think, so the next time something negative or fear-related enters your mind, challenge it. We can change a lot of behaviors simply by what we choose to say to ourselves

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The thing that I enjoy most about playing football is when I run faster than most guys on the field,that shows that I move quicker than most people. I have good althletic ability to get away from people so I use that on the field.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:I spend my time going to the gym while I'm off the field. Sometimes I'll go to the field with some friends and throw the ball around or do some drills etc. Also sometimes I be home watching football highlights learning new moves.

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    Thomas Schaffer

    Running Back
    Secaucus High School
    Secaucus, NJ

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    Thomas Schaffer

    Running Back
    Secaucus High School
    Secaucus, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I strongly believe to have the "Heart of a giant" you have to be able to work with a team. If you can't work with a team that well then you're not going to get very far in life. Working with a team means to sacrifice a few things. Whether it be movie night with your friends or even just walking around town with all of your friends. My oldest brother Niel always told me that you can't do everything on your own. He used football as an example. Niel actually used my football team, the fact that he used my team made my eyes open a little bit. Ever since then I've always pushed to get the best out of the guys on my team even if it meant running with them everyday. I have a mind set that I don't think many people have. "In order for a team to be great you and your team have to be willing to be great." I strongly believe that teamwork is the key to success and there is no other way around it.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: When I applied to go to fire school there was a few problems. One thing is I needed to find a ride there and the instructors said I was short and they didn't think I was going to be able to bring all of my gear up the stairs. I might be short but I definitely wasn't weak. We had to beat a time limit where we had to be able to run up five flights of stairs with a crew of four. Yes the instructors put the four shortest guys. We were all about 5'6, 5'7 but when the the fire alarm went off we out ran the other guys and their crew. We put the simulated fire before they did ,and in fact we actually beat them in every event. What I'm trying to say is, it doesn't matter how big you or or how fast you are. It's about making a team effort. Without my crew of four I wouldn't of been able to beat all the other crews.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The most enjoyable thing about playing football is the people I play with. I feel like as if I'm playing football at the park, or even in my backyard. The great thing about football is that you get together with a group of guys that have the same mentality as you, and that's to win. I've always loved football from when I started watching my brother Nick play. These football games always brought the town together. Sometimes when I'm on the field and it's opening kick off I hear the fans scream and it just send the chills up and down my back. I truly love playing football because I like taking lead and I feel like it brings the whole town of Secaucus together.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:On my free time I like to do tons of things. Most of the time I'm working but when I'm off I'm a volunteer firefighter. I know that this is going to sound weird but I love working. I work in a small corner deli by the name of Natoli's. Working has always been my favorite thing to do while I'm not either at school or at my fire house. My second favorite thing to do is to be at the fire house or even just hanging out with all of the kids from Secaucus in the center of town. It's just something that keeps me on my toes.

  • Nominee Photo

    Cayden Portor

    Defensive Line
    St. Joseph High School
    Seymour, CT

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    Cayden Portor

    Defensive Line
    St. Joseph High School
    Seymour, CT

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I am dedicated with everything I do. However, this has not always been the case. When I was younger I was never motivated to do anything. In sixth grade, during Pee-Wee football, I was under a new coach for that season. Coach Mike, as we called him, showed us a different path. He basically told me it was all about mindset. He would tell me if I continued thinking the way I was thinking, whether it be positive or negative, I would continue to act the way I was thinking. But, if I changed the way I thought about the goal, my actions would change as well. This has stuck with me since. Gradually I realized if I changed my mindset when approaching a new goal or obstacle, the thoughts alone would positively influence the outcome regardless if I achieved the objective. This mindset for me has always been dedication. If I dedicate my time, commitment, and energy towards a goal, I know the outcome will be in my favor. Dedication has morphed over the years into passion towards positive thinking and positive influence on the people around me, on my team, and in my classroom. Ever since Coach Mike influenced me to change my mindset, I have learned that dedication to all things I pursue is the key to my success.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: Tenth grade was a difficult year for me. My biological father who hadn’t been in my life for most of it was starting to reconnect with me. I was overjoyed. This was until I called him one day in February. My sister answered, sobbing, and informed me that our father had just been sentenced to jail for stealing five million dollars. I felt blindsided. It took a while to find out that he had just been sentenced to ten years in prison with a seven years minimum. I was upset, ashamed, and mad that this was how I found out my father’s life just changed significantly. If it wasn’t for the football workouts or the pass rush practicing at the local field, I would have never escaped the events occurring with my father. That was not the only event to happen last year. My step father, Scott, who had been there for me since I was two, was diagnosed with three different types of lymphoma cancer. It was spread all throughout his body. Normal cancer treatment won’t work for him, so he has to undergo extensive clinical trials. My mother and Scott now became heavily involved with different doctors, trying to figure out how to save Scott’s life. Football, and the family atmosphere it provides, became the structure that would get me through the darkest time of my life. I love practice, because it is two hours away from everything else, with friends, and for a worthwhile goal. Scott can’t come to the games because he receives treatment on the weekends, but when he comes on Sunday nights as asks me how the game went, I thank God he is still here as we watch the film and relive the play by play action together.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    I love practice, even though I despise running. Being a lineman means we get to grind the hardest during practice and I love it. We can trash talk each other for fun and hit each other as hard as we can without it meaning anything off the field. I also love being around my friends for two hours everyday. It takes the sting out of all bumps and bruises that accumulate during the season. Winning games and leading the defense to shut outs are great as well, but the everyday battle during practice with my best friends is where I enjoy football the most.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A: On a Saturday night after the game you can find me around the fire pit in my backyard. With my buddies Mike, Pags, Will, and Tyler. Whether that be at the beginning of the night or at the very end, somehow we always end up together at the fire pit. We are always together during the off season we go up to Vermont sometimes and and ski or just hang out up there. Finally I would like to say a little about my football family. We are known as the hogs, we are so close that I view all of us as one family. From coaches to my best friends to the incoming freshman there is nothing quite like what we have here. Also I would like to thank coach DellaVecchia for nominating me for this it truly means a lot.

  • Nominee Photo

    Mason Penn

    Wide Receiver
    Oceanside High School
    Oceanside, NY

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    Mason Penn

    Wide Receiver
    Oceanside High School
    Oceanside, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I believe that having strong will exemplifies having the “Heart of a Giant.” Someone with will is best described as someone with strong desire and drive. Without dedication to the sport, success will never come. I believe that every member of a team has to be one hundred percent committed to the game in order for the team to succeed. Even if one player slacks on one drill or one play the whole team could be affected. I have will for football and my team. I have a desire do my best, to support my team and to win. I also have will to succeed off the field. I have will to do good in school and to be my best me. I am committed to my academic success. I enrolled in AP courses to challenge myself and I take pride in my 99 weighted average. I am happy that I can give both myself and my family a sense of happiness and pride both on and off the football field. This just continues to strengthen my will to succeed.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I consider myself to be pretty lucky with a great family. However there has been one major setback. Throughout my life my father struggled with addiction. I quickly realized that while at practice and during games I didn’t have time to think about problems. After practice and games, I was too tired to worry. Football offered me the time and relief that I needed. Football also offered my family a time to come together. My mom, step-dad, sister and my maternal grandparents have always been at all my games and it is now so nice that my dad who is clean for 3 and a half years is able to join them. There is no better feeling than running onto the field knowing my family is there cheering me on.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    Besides the games, the thing I enjoy most about football is how everyone on the team is needed for success. Each person on the team contributes in a different way in order to help the team succeed. Even if one player is on scout team for the whole year, that player still contributes to the team’s success. This aspect of football is what makes it so special to me. It truly is a team sport. Although I am not a starter I still feel like a huge part of the team.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I am not playing football I enjoy spending time with family and friends while participating in many other athletic activities. My family owns a vacation home in Windham, NY. We often go upstate to ski and snowboard. Over the years, many of my friends have come upstate to also enjoye the house. My family is very close and always welcomes my friends. It is a fun time for everyone. I also participate in many activities that encompass topics and issues that mean a lot to me. I have been involved in the C the Difference: Cory Cares program. This program helps feed those less fortunate by working to stock the shelves at many local food pantries. I am proud to say I am a member of the Junior Advisory Board for the program. I also participate in the World Interest Club at Oceanside High School. This club is a globally ranked model United Nations Team. We study global diplomacy, international relations and the United Nations. This club has been a great learning experience. Lastly, in pursuit of a career in pharmaceuticals, I completed a summer internship at Long Island University under the guidance of Dr. Grazia Stagni. Dr, Stagni is professor of Pharmaceutics and involved in various areas of research in the field.

  • Nominee Photo

    Damon Barnes

    Defensive Back
    Cardinal Hayes High School
    Newark, NJ

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    Damon Barnes

    Defensive Back
    Cardinal Hayes High School
    Newark, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Commitment represents having the "Heart of a Giant" because devoting your time to being great at one particular thing takes a lot of heart and passion even with the adversity that comes with life. One who is truly committed to a specific goal will embrace anything that comes on the path to achieving that goal. Having the "Heart of a Giant" means to never give up on anything you put your mind to and to embrace the process while working hard and being the best you can be on and off the field. I feel as if I exhibit all qualities to being committed to better myself as a football player, but most importantly as a person. Every day no matter whether I am in the classroom, the field, or just on the street, I think of ways that I will better myself. When I have a goal in mind I desire to get the most out of things I deem necessary for me to achieve that goal. I work hard in anything I do because I never take things for granted and I have the mindset to succeed in anything I work toward. No matter the adversity that comes my way, I have the ability to stay on track and still perform at a high level and keep my composure.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: At a point in my life all I wanted to do was play football; during this time of struggle I felt like it was nothing else anyone could take from me except football and I worked and persevered to make sure that did not happen. I come from a family where it has only been my mother, my brother, and I and since we moved from my home state Maryland about six years ago I have never had a stable home and I developed my love for football more and more over these six years. Bouncing from house to house in New York City is tough because after a while you feel like there is no where else you can possibly go and a feeling rises that no one actually cares if you and your family lived on the street. From that moment from when I was about 10 or 11 years old I found football as a safe haven for when I needed to let frustration out or when I needed to do something I actually enjoyed because my thoughts of not having a place to call home would eat away at me at times. All at the same time, balancing school and football all while my mother worked her hardest to give me and my brother a roof over our heads made me realize that I have something to play football for and that I have the work ethic to do something great. Also, I realized I have a gift, which I just needed to capitalize on in order for me to get where I want to be in the long run. Overall, football made me realize my purpose in choosing to work hard and go to the extreme to succeed, also, football gave me a way to showcase not only my athletic abilities but also how far I have come to ultimately achieve goals I never knew I could achieve. For example, I never thought I would be in a position to become a leader on a high level football organization, but the fact that I decided to embrace my struggle and continue to pursue my goals shows my commitment and dedication toward becoming the best person I can be.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    I enjoy playing football because of the pure passion and love I have for the game and I believe that passion and love will keep me involved in football for a long time. The love I have for the game comes from football being there when my back was against the wall with what seemed to be my "way out" and how much I enjoy just being around the game. Also, football brings about a brotherhood and a bond with certain people that can go a long way and the brotherhood I have formed with many teammates and coaches makes me feel like I have other families who will be willing to take part in career to help me succeed. Having a brotherhood with teammates and coaches helps me to understand why certain sacrifices have to be made and that teamwork really does make the dream work. Finally, football brings about many opportunities for people to succeed and gives me a chance to show I am willing to work hard and sacrifice to be successful at the highest level. Football gives opportunities to the majority of the people who play the sport, but only the people who have a goal in mind and have a plan to work hard and commit to achieving that goal are the ones who succeed and I feel that I have the work ethic and ability to take advantage of the opportunities football presents to me.

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    Lizandro Espinosa

    Linebacker
    Port Chester High School
    Port Chester, NY

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    Lizandro Espinosa

    Linebacker
    Port Chester High School
    Port Chester, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:All of the criteria listed below is what defines a "Heart of a Giant." However, I believe that dedication is what fits me best. All my life I have faced adversity and I have learned how to overcome it. I believe I have a "Heart of a Giant" because I have always been the underdog. I lack the physical size compared to the rest of my teammates, I don't let that stop me, I use it as fuel to motivate me more and work harder. I've had to outwork all my opponents to be able to compete at the same level as them. I would go to the gym everyday and never miss a workout and make sure I was the first one there and the last one out. I have never missed a practice, making sure that I pick up every detail being taught to not only make me a better player, but the best teammate I can possibly be.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: One adversity that I have faced in my life is being brought to the US when I was three years old. Entering a totally new country and having to learn a new language was extremely challenging. Trying to make friends with people who couldn't understand me made me sad at times. However, I kept pushing myself, even though I was totally out of my comfort zone. After learning how to speak English and communicate among my peers, I finally found my group of friends. When I got to seventh grade I wanted to play football and playing football allowed me to make even more new friends. Along with making friends, football taught me how to become responsible and accountable for my actions. Football is like a second family to me. I have other people who care about me and also push me to become a better person on and off the field. I have learned to become a leader and be a role model for my team, allowing me to be one of the Captains. I owe a lot of my success to football and my amazing coaches who have guided me to my success. Because of football I have great grades, I have a 3.7 GPA and have learned to manage my time by going to school, play football, work and get all my school work done.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I enjoy the most about playing football is the camaraderie that I get to have with my friends that I grew up with and being able to play a game that teaches you to become a man. I enjoy playing ball with my friends because I know I can depend on them and vise versa. I known they got my back and I got there's. This sport also helps bring us the teammates and coaching staff together because it teaches many life lessons that can be applied to our future. For example being responsible and accountable. That applies to both on and off the field. My coach always says that in the future when I get a job, if I'm late that I will be fired and my boss can easily replace me. So he says to be on time because that shows responsibility and that you care.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A: I spend my time hanging out with friends and family when I'm off the field. I enjoy watching football on Sundays and hanging out with friends and just be a regular person. I also like to workout and better myself when I'm off the field. I like to think that there is always room for improvement and that not one person is perfect, but I can always try and become better in a certain aspect. On my free time I also work on my school work, such as homework. If I don't do my homework and stay on top of my grades then I won't be able to play football.

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    Shaqir Herbert

    Quarterback
    Kennedy High School
    Paterson, NJ

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    Shaqir Herbert

    Quarterback
    Kennedy High School
    Paterson, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Will : My drive is my mother , how I take care of my family and loved ones . Simple because I love the game and don’t want to do nothing else with my life . If it ain’t football it ain’t for me . I want to be that person everyone looks up too , that person people can come to for help , and I will accomplish that when I get drafted and will be financially stable to take care of my family and to make a change .

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I , Shaqir Dayshon Herebert was born in to adversity ... Without football I don’t think I would have come as far as I am today. Football as gotten me through so many situations because I always felt like it wasn’t home , it was my way out. On the football field I feel like I can do anything. Growing up me and my brother moved from house to house until we were adopted by my (foster) mother. I treat her as the real deal because she had us since we were 2 years so to me that’s my mother my earth. Growing up I experienced plenitude of things but it didn’t matter to me because I’ve always been determined to make it out through the football field. Since I was a kid I’ve been saying “I want go to the NFL" when people ask me what is my back up plan I ignore it because I’m determined to fulfill my dream. When my mother was alive I always use to tell her don’t worry I got you when I get to the league just a few more years. Then December 25th came and I lost the only lady that had been there for me. The only lady that wanted me when no one did. Right in my arms on Christmas night. I couldn’t believe it. Yes it was nice I stayed up and cried but it came to a point when I told myself no more crying. This season is for her. So this year instead of just focusing at QB my favorite position to play. I became a player that could do anything my coach asked me to accomplish so I went from just a QB to QB , WR , OLB , Special teams , I choose to play every position at my highest ability and do good at it, because I wasn’t playing for myself anymore I was playing for my mother. Before every game I go to the end zone look up to the sky, talk to her, tell her to be on the field with me and then go ball out. Without football I would’ve been lost. Probably would’ve been on the streets or something. But I choose the football route as a young kid since I was 7 and I hope to continue it FOREVER!

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    What I enjoy most about football is the brotherhood. I have a group of boys that I call my brothers that I know that gotten me through whatever. I love the quarterback position too, I like to take control and make somebody’s defense look bad. I love the game period.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A: This is a tough one because all I do is football . If I’m not at practice or at school I’m in the house on the game or at the gym with my brother playing basketball . I’m very active I played football, basketball and baseball growing up. I did it all my mother adopted 3 boys. We were like a small little army. The “Herberts" on every field and every court. If I’m not doing football I’m home watching football or on the game or somewhere playing basketball.

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    Joshua Williams

    Defensive Line
    Newburgh Free Academy
    Newburgh, NY

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    Joshua Williams

    Defensive Line
    Newburgh Free Academy
    Newburgh, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:The criteria I chose is character my teammates respect me, when I serve in my football co captain role. Trying to be consistent on and off the field and by motivating my teammates every chance I get. This is done by giving that extra push at practice and by competing at the highest level when we play an opposing team. Character to me is being true to myself and having integrity in everything I do, especially when no one there or no one is looking. This defines me having a heart of a giant .

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A:During summer camp football training I injured my right knee, which later turned out to be a meniscus tear. This was devastating and I wasn’t sure weather I would be able to play football my junior year. This was adeversity I didn’t think I can mentally and physically overcome. Through encourage from my parents and coaches, and by having surgery and going through rehabilitation I was determined to play football again. Upon my return during a playoff game I put my surgically repaired knee through a strenuous test. That game not only was I dominating with 5 solo tackles but I was also named defensive player of the game.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The joy of playing football flows through my bloodline, I have been playing the game of football since I was 8 years old. I started with pop warner and I currently play as a starting senior defensive end and tight end for Newburgh Free Academy football team. Football is a family tradition to me, my father played at Stonybrook University, my oldest brother plays football with the New York City corrections department, and another brother of mine played on a full scholarship at Pittsburgh University. He continues to play this day at Rhode Island University while working on his master degree. This tradition is a motivating factor for me and strengthen my desire to continue to play this fascinating sport. To me football is a full contact sport and I honestly love the physicality that’s required and the joy of winning after a hard fought game. It gives me a conquering feeling that sends adrenaline all over my body. This occurs especially when I make a sack a hard hit on my opponent, recover a fumble or make and interception from a pass. The love I have for football will continue as long as my mental and physical body lets me.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A: Most of the time when I’m not playing football I enjoy spend My time with my family. We go to see my brother play at Rhode Island University on Saturday. So even though I’m not playing I get to watch f

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    Nick Reardon

    Quarterback
    Freehold Township High School
    Freehold, NJ

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    Nick Reardon

    Quarterback
    Freehold Township High School
    Freehold, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:I know as well as understand that I may not be the most talented or natural athlete,but I try to keep a mind set of never letting anyone out work me. I work as hard as at the end of the season as if it is day one. I always maintain a positive attitude especially when it comes to my fellow teammates. As the captain of my team I mentor the underclassmen to work to their full potential. I work hard and take school seriously. I'm working hard to reach my goals in college, and looking forward to a bright future.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A:A time in which I faced difficulties in my life was when I was in junior high school. I transferred into public school from Catholic grammar school. It wanted to have new experiences. I was very sheltered there. I did not have many friends and upon my first semester my father was diagnosed with cancer. I felt very alone. When I would go to pop warner football practice it was a time for me to have fun and be with my football buddies. I stared my freshman year of high school and completely changed football position, from a lineman to a QB. I taught myself, I worked very hard. We had A very difficult season. I was discouraged at times but forged ahead to very successful JV and Varsity seasons. These experiences have helped me become more confident and social. I am normally a very shy quiet person. I wouldn't trade the tough times they have helped become the man I am today.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The one thing I must say is the most fulfilling is being with my teammates everyday. Whether it be a good day or a bad one we bring each other up. We are a family, a brotherhood. I feel a bond with them like no other. Football is a sport in which you must rely on one another to reach success.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A: The one thing I enjoy the most is being with my family. As I have gotten older I appreciate all of the love and support they have given me. I also enjoy volunteering. I help coach and mentor young athletes with special needs. By doing this for the past few years they have actually taught me many things. During my time spent with these young special athletes, they have shown me much love and appreciation. It is something I look forward to doing on my time off. I also enjoy free time with my friends and playing video games.

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    Kenneth Eleazer

    Offensive Line
    Bay Shore Senior High School
    Bay Shore, NY

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    Kenneth Eleazer

    Offensive Line
    Bay Shore Senior High School
    Bay Shore, NY

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Personally, I think the trait “will” fits me because no matter how hard things get, I do not give up. I have the desire and drive to win on the field but I also have the same energy off the field and in school. I plan on changing how I am in school; I need to buckle down and get my grades up. I also need to focus on school a lot more. I know I can do it and I will do it, too. I try my hardest to play and work to my full potential. I stay out of trouble in the streets, but in school I always get caught up in something, but that will also change this year. I am trying to do better all around and graduate on time.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: A time I faced adversity in my life was when my mom passed. It was the hardest thing that ever happened to me in my life. I was so broken I wanted to give up on everything, but my football family and coaches helped me through and are still helping me on and off the field.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    The thing I enjoy the most about playing football, besides my love for the game, is how much support and love I get from my brothers on the team. Whenever I need something they are there for me even when I just need to talk. They all treat me like family like we are blood brothers.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I’m not practicing or playing a game, I’m home with my family and friends. Sometimes I go out and ride my quad but it broke so I am trying to get it fixed. I am also studying for school so I can graduate on time. Another thing I like to do is work on small engines. This is something I am interested in doing in the future.

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    Thomas Dorsey

    Linebacker
    Raritan High School
    Hazlet, NJ

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    Thomas Dorsey

    Linebacker
    Raritan High School
    Hazlet, NJ

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    Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

    A:Commitment to me is being at practice every single day to show my coaches and teammates I am committed to the team. I try and encourage my teammates especially the young guys to do their best, don’t quit, never give up and always give 110% every single minute they are on and off the field, like I do. Because football, friends, school and family are everything to me.

    Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

    A: I never had to overcome adversity, until now with my injury. I now have difficulty try to put my head around it, I have so many emotions that sometimes I feel like it is all a dream. I then go back and watch the video and I realize that is it is not. I know that because of my injury this will make me a stronger minded person, because instead of running out on the field to make a play I am now on the sidelines cheering on my teammates.

    Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

    I have played football since I was six years old, and the thing about it I enjoy the most is being out there on the field with my brothers knowing we have each other back. I have been taught by every single one of my coaches from flag until high school to support your teammates on and off the field, because we are a family.

    Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

    A:When I am not playing football I am either at the gym, hanging with my friends, showing my little brother plays so he can become a better football player. Otherwise I am just being a teenager.