Thursday, January 21, 2010
Updated: January 25, 2:39 PM ET
There is no quit in these players
By Mike Loveday
Most sports fans have seen the movie "Rudy". The image of former Notre Dame football player, Daniel Rudy Ruettiger, has become part of American life and a larger part of football players lives.
But Rudy's contribution had very little to do with his athletic prowess, but rather how he carried himself off the field.
Rudy Awards Semifinalists
The Rudy Awards winner and two runners-up will be announced Feb. 3. Leading up to that day, ESPN RISE will profile all 30 semifinalists:
- Steven Barber, Littleton (Colo.)
- Jonathan Blevins, S. Pittsburg (Tenn.)
- Daniel Bouwman, Grantsville (Utah)
- Anthony Braham, Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
- Cody Dean, Post (Texas)
- Jon Dierkes, Breese (Ill.)
- Dakota Dir, Kingsland (Ga.)
- Justin Ray Duke, Shepherd (Texas)
- Dalton Dyer, Auburn (Calif.)
- Kei Harris, Avondale (Ariz.)
- Jeremy Hester, Panama City Beach (Fla.)
- Chris Kania, East Brunswick (N.J.)
- Bobby Keeney, Tuckerton (N.J.)
- Evan Lawson, Minot, (N.D.)
- Kurt LeBlanc, Bourg (La.)
- Calob Leindecker, Baton Rouge (La.)
- Kye Leystra, Cambria, (Wis.)
- Bill Marnich, Monongahela (Pa.)
- Kyle Merrill, Los Angeles (Calif.)
- Naji Moore-Taylor, Lynnwood (Wash.)
- Kyle Muka, Northfield, (Mass.)
- Jesse Ortiz, Peoria (Ariz.)
- Anthony Pagano, Deep River (Conn.)
- William Peters-Vili, Omaha (Neb.)
- Cody Roberts, Tekonsha (Mich.)
- Jonathan Shaw, Thorndike (Maine)
- Tory Squires, Chicago (Ill.)
- Matthew Subish, Temecula (Calif.)
- Lukas Utz, Cheney (Kan.)
- Kyle Weafer, Overland Park (Kan.)
- * Rudy Awards Voting Page
- * Rudy Awards Home Page
It is in that spirit that Trusted Sports has created the Rudy Awards to honor "inspirational football players who best define what Rudy refers to as the "The Four C's": Character, Courage, Contribution and Commitment."
The process began with more than 390 submissions from 48 states and is now down to 30 semifinalists with the winner and two runners-up being announced on Feb. 3.
The winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and will receive the High School Football Rudy Award, which will be presented by Rudy Ruettiger.
The two Runners-up will receive a $5,000 academic scholarship and Runners-up Award and each of the thirty Semifinalists will receive a 'Rudy 45' football jersey.
Jonathan Shaw, Mount View (Thorndike, Maine)
Why he is a candidate: If things had stayed the way they were, Shaw would have never been nominated for the Rudy Award because there was not football program at Mount View High School. But Shaw, along with some other future players, spearheaded a campaign that would eventually bring varsity football to the school. Shaw began petitioning school board members while in eighth grade. The first time, the request was voted down, receiving only four of the 11 board members approval. But Shaw kept at it, calling students to make sure they attended board meetings, making sure they all behaved at the negativity that some in the community felt towards the students. Shaw and another teammate spent some days during the summer outside of the superintendent's office with a sign that read, "Honk for Mount View Football," causing the superintendent to come to the window to see what all the honking was about. After a year, Mount View was granted a varsity football program by an 8 to 3 margin. And in a bit of poetic justice, the team's original kicker was sick during the opening game and Shaw stepped in to become the first ever Mustang to touch a football. Shaw played most of his senior season with a separated shoulder, but refused to quit on his team. He had surgery to repair the damage two days after the season was finished. Shaw helped the team to its first ever win this season, helping the Mustang's to two victories.
Vote for Shaw here
Evan Lawson, Minot High School (N.D.)
Why he is a candidate: Lawson was not a candidate for the football team as a sophomore. To be honest, he may have been a better candidate for a heart attack. Weighing in at more than 400 pounds, Lawson made the effort on his own to start an after school workout program. After losing 80 pounds in time for summer tryouts, Lawson became a member of the Minot high school football team. Having just completed his senior season, Lawson has shed more than 150 pounds in almost two years. For his efforts, Lawson was awarded his schools first ever "Inspiration Award."
"I think he's one of the most courageous young men I've ever met. Initially, there was not a lot of help to start that [weight loss] process," Lawson's head football coach Barry Holmen said. "He got to be part of something for two years. Now he's a much more confidant young man and he's enjoying his life much more then he was two years ago."
Vote for Lawson here
Chris Kania, East Brunswick (N.J.)
Why he is a candidate: Kania has Moderate Cognitive Impairment (MCI) which impairs his fine motor skill issues and give him difficulty with processing reading, math and an overall difficulty in learning retention. Despite his disability, Kania has been a member of the football team and head coach Marcus Borden has taken the 18-year old under his wing. When Kania first joined the team, Borden helped tutor him in the weight room, and adding the weights has helped Kania's math ability. The football team even helped Kania learn to tie shoes.
"Bringing Chris into the fold has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime," Borden said.
Vote for Kania here