Focus and football keep players going
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.
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.
Anthony Braham, Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
Why he is a candidate: After reading Braham's nomination page the only thing one can think is how is this kid not a complete emotional wreck? The 18-year old is living with Crohn's Disease and is on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) list waiting for a kidney. His mother died of pneumonia in November, caused by a complication from open-heart surgery she underwent after a heart attack she suffered in July. But through it all, Braham has remained a positive influence on his football team and in school. When his kidney failure caused him to give up playing for his senior year, Braham remained with the team as a water boy, camera man or whatever his head coach Donald Bass needed.
Dakota Dir, Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.)
Why he is a candidate: Dir is battling two debilitating diseases, Mitochondrial Disease and Carnitine Deficiency. The diseases have left Dir in a constant state of pain and caused him to lose function in his hands and legs. But despite the challenges he faces, Dir has not let this stop him from living a full life. His head coach, Jeff Heron told FirstCoastNews.com, "The best leaders lead by example and he does. He's fantastic, every day he comes to work and he's ready and he's excited, if we could get them to all act like that we'd have something."
William Peters-Vili, Benson (Omaha, Neb.)
Why he is a candidate: Few senior years can go as differently as a student envisions as Peters-Vili did. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior was a rising star on the Benson football team after his junior season and was receiving interest from colleges when a torn ACL ended his senior year before it had a chance to begin. The injury did not end Peters-Vili involvement with the football team, but then as the season began his younger brother, Wilson Vili, died of pneumonia. According to his head coach's, Adam Heuertz, nomination letter, "He [Peters-Vili] was at school the next day so that he could be there for his teammates, and he even gave the most rousing speech I have ever heard later that day in the locker room. He had made the entire team stand up, and he reminded them that he was not going to be selfish and say that he was the only one who had lost a brother, but that we all had."
Mike Loveday is the Contact Sports Editor for ESPN RISE and can be reached viat e-mail at Michael.Loveday@espn.com.