National High School Coaches Association


The Luckiest Coach

The Luckiest Coach
By Coach Cliff Ramos

I bet you Michael Johnson's high school track coach thought he was the luckiest coach in the world. Or perhaps the high school coaches of Herschel Walker, Larry Bird, Barry Bonds and Dan Gable thought they were the most fortunate for having a "one of a kind" athlete on their team. Well, they were all wrong. I am the luckiest coach anywhere because I have Kyle Maynard on my wrestling team.

Who is Kyle Maynard? Kyle Maynard has been my JV 95 / 103 pounder for the last two years. This past season, his sophomore year, Kyle raised his total JV record to 28-8 after winning the King of the JV Hill Tournament, the largest and toughest junior varsity tournament in Georgia.

So Kyle has a pretty decent high school career going, but how can I say that he makes me the luckiest coach anywhere? Well, he has this physical condition which hinders him at times. Oh, I know there are many stories of handicapped athletes who have been successful, like some state wrestling champions or national champions with one or no legs. Sorry, Kyle sets the standard for physically impaired athletes who have experienced success.

Kyle was born with no legs, only two small feet turned at weird angles where the tops of the femurs are supposed to be. That can be a pretty severe handicap, but try wrestling with no legs ... and no fingers, no hands and no elbows! He was born with stubs for arms that stop a few inches above where his elbows should be. So basically, Kyle competes using a neck, two shoulders, a very intelligent brain, and an enormous heart.

And he wins. As I mentioned earlier, Kyle has two successful JV seasons under his belt. He actually has a chance to be our varsity 103 pounder for at least part of the time over the next two seasons. And that is on a team which has one state championship and two third place finishes over the last three years in the state's largest classification.

We have tried to invent and reinvent when it comes to technique for Kyle. But almost all of the credit for the "inventions" goes to Kyle. Most conventional moves do not work for him, so Kyle will do some pretty strange things on the mat. Sometimes it looks like he is doing a breakdance right before he leeches on to a leg.

Don't feel sorry for Kyle - he might be the meanest kid on our team (but only while competing). He uses his head and face like a battering ram and his arms like little clubs. The opponents who feel sorry for him usually end up bleeding and watching the referee raise Kyle's arm after the match.

Do be amazed by Kyle. I'm amazed every day I see him. I am amazed when I see him "run" with the rest of the team, which for Kyle is more like a bear crawl. I am amazed when I see him eat with forks and spoons. I am amazed when I see him write with much better "handwriting" than anyone on the team. I am amazed when I see him type at the computer faster then a lot of people ... he is also an "A" student in all honors classes.

But I am most amazed when I see him in our wrestling room ... which brings me back to the point I previously made about being the luckiest coach in the world. Kyle is an inspiration to the coaches and the wrestlers on our team every single day. He doesn't miss practice. He never complains. He is one of the more vocal leaders on the team. He jokes around and horseplays just like any other kid (he is especially good at the age-old prank of sneaking up behind someone to let an accomplice push someone over him). And on a scale of one to ten for being a hard worker, Kyle is a 10.

And there have been numerous instances where I have used Kyle as an example and a teaching tool ... A couple of examples: A kid might come to me during a grueling practice and say, "Coach, my knee is killing me. Can I sit out and ice it?" If I think the knee problem is minor, I'll point at Kyle and say, "I bet he wouldn't mind having a bad knee right now. Do you think you could wait until the end of practice for the ice?" Or another kid might inquire about sitting out due to a hyperextended elbow, and I'll look at Kyle and say, " I imagine he would take two hyperextended elbows for just one day." The kid's elbow usually starts feeling a little better.

I have been coaching for 26 years and have never coached or seen a kid who has a bigger impact on the people with whom he has contact - not just the young people and adults in our wrestling program: people associated with any opposing team are amazed and inspired as well. Therefore, I think I am correct when I say I am the luckiest coach in the world. Well not exactly. I am not lucky. I have been blessed. God has sent a blessing to a wrestling team in Suwanee, Georgia, in the form of a two and a half-foot tall giant of a person.

Wheelchair to Swimming Pool

Wheelchair to Swimming Pool

Imagine trying to swim with only half of your body. Sounds like a one-way ticket to a watery grave, but it's something that Jackson High junior Joel White does on a regular basis.

For most of White's average day he is confined to a wheelchair that's to spina bifida, a condition that he has had to deal with from birth, but in the water he keeps up with the best of them. He won five events at the National Junior Sports Festival swim meet in New London, Conn. in late June.

Competing against other with disabilities, including at least a couple that did not have use of their legs, White set two meet records in grabbing his five wins.

"I knew that I would be pretty competitive," White said. "I was pretty confident, but the two records were in events that I least expected. That's what was amazing to me."

One of those unexpected records came in the 50-meter butterfly in which he swam a 1:05. His previous best had been a 1:27. He also set a new mark in the 200-freestyle.

"I had a lot of adrenaline," White offered. "I wanted to win."

He also earned victories in the 50-freestyle, the 100-freestyle and the 50-breaststroke.

The performance drew praise from his coach, Rob Steinberg.

"He set two national records and those records were set by some people that have gone on to swim in the world championships at the senior level," Steinberg said. "Because of his seed times he was raving against older kids and kids with lesser disability. He far exceeded out expectations. We couldn't have asked for a whole lot more."

Spina bifida is something that White has dealt with his entire life.

"When I was born there was a hole in part of my spine and I had to have surgery to get it connected," White explained. "Because of the way my spine is it damaged nerves in my back and so my legs aren't very strong to where I can't move them to walk."

Despite his disabilities, White has been active his whole life. He played for years wither the Challenger Baseball program and five years ago started swimming regularly with the Special Olympics program, the Stark Sharks.

"I've always like the water," he said, "The first thing was that I learned how to float. They taught me how to float in the Special Olympics, and the different strokes. My upper body has gotten strong enough that I can get moving and stay on top of the water."

As if to compensate for not having use of his legs, White's upper body is solid and muscular.

"The upper body is the sole source of momentum for a push off, a turn, a start and the stroke itself," Steinberg said. "When it is your upper body, that's and incredible feat alone."

After swimming with the Sharks program, White started swimming for Jackson program as a freshman and he quickly made an impression on Polar Bear coach Jack Gardner.

"He's a remarkable kid," Gardner said "He has the heart of a lion. He's always moving forward. Out team loves him."

It was a little over a year and a half ago that White decided to take his swimming to the next level. That was when he joined Sam Seiple's Canton City Schools program and came under the direction of Steinberg.

White credits much of his success to the CCS program and Steinberg.

"I've made a lot of friends," White Said. "My time is dropping and my training is the best it has ever been."

With his performance in Connecticut still a recent memory, White has his next goal set.

"Right now I want to keep training hard and next July I want to go to Long Beach, California for the Para Olympic Trials," White said.

"That's the Olympics for disabled people. I just want to train hard and get to that."

Updated: Inspireum Soccer Award Nominee's Amaze


Paige Phillip
Penncast High School (Media, PA)

Nominated By: Danielle Fagan
Click Here to see Nominee Page 


When Paige Phillip saw Birmingham United on the schedule for FC Delco’s Elite Club National League team, her mind was thousands of miles away from her home in Pennsylvania. Paige's mind went back to Birmingham on  April 27th when a record-setting 173 tornados touched down and took over 300 lives and destroyed homes across the region. Paige decided to create a fundraiser for her opponents from Birmingham and with help from her teammates, she organized and directed a raffle that generated over $6,000. The money was donated to the Red Cross for the injured, homeless and dispossessed back in Alabama. When Paige and her teammates presented the gift to the surprised Birmingham United Squad they were touched by the gesture and impressed by the reach of the soccer community.   



Morgan Stanton
Bear Creek High School (Lakewood, CO)

Nominated By: Michelle Stanton, Mother
Click Here to See Nominee Page


Morgan Stanton is a very talented player in her own right. She plays tough and works hard to develop her skills, but her understanding of, and passion for soccer doesn't stop with her own game, or with her own team. It is extended to the young women in her community. Morgan has coached for the past five years, starting with a U5 girls team that is now in their U10 season. Morgan endlessly gives her time to help these young ladies develop self-esteem, strength and a positive attitude. Morgan makes it to every practice and game and also schedules one-on-one time with the girls as often as her own demanding training and academic schedule allows. Morgan is an excellent role model and mentor for the young girls both on and off the field, with her strong academic and athletic record as well as the time she volunteers with the youth and elderly in her community. 




Tori Remodelli
Point Pleasant Borough High School (Point Pleasant, NJ)

Nominated By: Pete Casalino
Click Here to see Nominee Page

Tori Remodelli is known among his friends and community for finding the good in the bad. After witnessing the death of a coach during a practice, Tori didn’t waste any time in assuring his community that their coach would be remembered. With his coach’s family in mind, Tori created a soccer league specifically for special needs kids. Working to succeed on and off the field has always been at the top of Tori’s priority list, until a soccer-related accident put everything on hold. Tori’s dreams of playing soccer in college temporally disappeared. He tore his ACL at a soccer tournament in April of this year. Since the accident, Tori has learned to walk again and is currently working with physical therapists to regain complete strength in his legs. Tori is hoping that he will get a second chance to play soccer in college next year.



Allison LaBorde
Fort Wayne Snider High School (Fort Wayne, IN)

Nominated By: Jim LaBorde
Click Here to see Nominee Page


Inspiring her team everyday to do the best they possibly can is what makes Allison LaBorde a true inspiration. Volunteering for youth soccer organizations and even giving makeovers to elderly women are just examples of how Allison gives back to her community.  Allison’s teammates constantly go to her for support on and off the field. She contributes tremendously on her team, in the classroom and within her community.



Emily Chrisman
St. Johnsville School (St. Johnsville, NY)

Nominated By: Zale Benton, Coach
Click Here to See Nominee Page 


Emily Chrisman is a senior at the tiny St. Johnsville School in St. Johnsville, New York. Just down the road is Oppenheim-Ephratah School. The two schools have a combined enrollment of just 750 kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. The schools have had a trial combined athletics program for three years, in order to fully field teams that would not exist without a merger. Unfortunately, politics at each school being what they are, there has been much controversy as well as animosity between the two schools. Emily is the one thing that keeps her team together. As team captain and a valedictorian, her teammates look to her for maturity and guidance among the discord created by the adults around them. Though as a graduating senior, Emily had nothing to gain from the Oppenhiem Board of Education’s recent vote on an official merger, she had been among the most proactive and vocal supporters of the merger. She wanted to keep the team alive for those that would play after she was gone. Unfortunately, the politicking and bickering won out, leading to a “no” vote. This just stands to further emphasize the maturity and grace which makes Emily a terrific nominee.



Zach Eagle
Hammilton Southeastern High School (Fisher, IN)

Nominated By: Brian A. Eagle
Click Here to see Nominee Page

In May of 2010, Zach Eagle, standing five feet tall and tipping the scales at 100 pounds, was about to experience growth for the first time in two years. What should have been an incredible time in Zach’s life turned out to be a number of obstacles he would have to endure. In June, after suffering from what he thought was a torn hamstring, Zach found out he was actually suffering from a bone displacement. Eight weeks of rest forced Zach to resign from high school soccer. When Zach’s eight weeks were up, he immediately returned to the soccer field. Things looked bright for this outstanding player, until again, at the end of the season, he suffered from another bone displacement and had an additional eight weeks of rest. Never giving up and having a positive attitude are how Zach’s friends, family and teammates describe him. Today, he continues to play soccer and even lead his team to the U.S. Soccer State Tournament.

Becca Lidvall
D’Evelyn High School (Lakewood, CO)

Nominated By: Bethany Lidvall
Click Here to see Nominee Page

Family and soccer are the two most important things to Becca Lidvall. Having actively participated in soccer programs since the age of four, there is no doubt that soccer has been an important factor in shaping who she is today. During her junior year of high school, Becca’s dad, and biggest fan, suffered from a massive stroke. This life-changing event gave Becca an even stronger will to succeed and continue to make her dad proud. Her dedication and determination is demonstrated on and off the soccer field. During her spare time, you can find Becca helping her brothers, as well as other special needs athletes, play soccer. Her compassion for others and love for the game of soccer makes Becca Lidvall a true inspiration to all.

Gonzalo Vasquez
Crooked Oak HS
Oklahoma City, OK

Nominated By: Kit Stephenson
Click Here to see Nominee Page

At Crooked Oak High School 97% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches, parent involvement is low and the influence of the local gang scene is high. Times are hard financially and socially for the residents of “Top Town.” When Gonzalo Vasquez turned out for the football and soccer teams, his coaches had doubts about his disrespectful attitude and his ability to remain in their demanding programs. Gonzalo has developed through the programs to become Captain for both teams and now he inspires his teammates and classmates to stay in school and out of gangs. Gonzalo works 25 hours a week to support his family and buy gas to give his teammates rides to practice. Gonzalo is an officer in his school's newly formed Fellowship of Christian Athletes and wants to be a bilingual teacher and coach to help other young people commit to live courageously and be guided by character and contribution to others rather that be defined by negative influences around them.

Gaela Normile
Kellem High School (Virginia Beach, VA)

Nominated By: Matt Dacey
Click Here to see Nominee Page

As the oldest of five, Gaela Normile enjoyed a quiet, private upbringing and was incredibly close to her siblings and parents. The family spent weekends traveling to soccer tournaments and afternoons rushing between practices for her brothers and sisters. Gaela has always been positive and affectionate, carrying herself with poise on and off the field even as she carries her heartbroken family through the toughest time of their lives. In July 2010 Gaela's youngest brother, two year old Charlie, slipped into the family pool. After a six day battle for his life, Charlie passed away and left an irreplaceable void in Gaela's life. The grieving family quickly bound together and created “Team Charlie” to support other grieving families in their area. Team Charlie has already grown to thousands of members and is providing clean water to communities in Africa, supplying organ donation education and conducting toy drives for children. This fall Gaela is directing a 5k Turkey Trot to honor Charlie that is benefiting the Navy SEALs Foundation and local families who have lost family members overseas. Gaela has maintained her commitment as a pillar to her family, to her education as an honor roll student and to her team as a strong player and leader.  


Don’t wait – get your nomination in today...
Nominations must be complete by November 9th

Playoff Season is Under Way at HSTN!


Football season is in full swing as we start the playoff season.  See what's on the menu for this week on HSTN.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Archbishop Spalding @ Gilman (Baltimore, MD)
Start Time: 1:30 p.m. EST / 10:30 a.m. PST

Side Line Notes: Two state powerhouses will be clashing Friday night. Spalding is coming off a 2 game winning streak, knocking off the Loyola-Bakersfield School last week. Gilman is on a 6 game winning steak, with the last defeat coming at the hands of #1 ranked Our Lady of Good Counsel back in early September.  Ranked 14th and 2nd respectively, look for a high action and high scoring game.

Crespi @ Loyola (Los Angeles, CA
Start Time: 10:00 p.m. EST / 7:00 p.m. PST

Side Line Notes: Last year, Crespi picked up the 41-7 victory over the Loyola furthering their playoff dreams. This year, Loyola hopes they are the ones in the victory seat after all is said and done Friday night in this anticipated game. Loyola is currently ranked 10th in California.  

Please Note: First time listed is Eastern Standard Time.

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Stay Tuned!

High School Football Rudy Award Nominee's Amaze

Dazmond Patterson
Plant City HS (Plant City, FL)

Nominated By: Kenyatta Shaw, Mother
Click  to see Nominee Page


At 5’8”, Dazmond Patterson may be undersized for a running back; but as a true student-athlete Dazmond is confident in his strength both on and off the field. He posts a 4.8 grade-point average and has been selected as a Home Town Player of the Week. Dazmond was shown the value of a good education by his mother, Kenyatta Shaw, who held him out of middle school football to write book reports after he earned three C's in the fifth grade. Dazmond is now an exceptional student who helps his single mother with two younger siblings and nine foster children Kenyatta has taken into her therapeutic foster care over the past five years. Dazmond's father was incarcerated when Kenyatta was pregnant with Dazmond, and he will not be released until 2023. As the oldest of his siblings, Dazmond's leadership has enabled Kenyatta to work teaching special education and earn her master's degree in educational leadership while caring for twelve children.



Andrew Thomas
Garnet Valley High School (Chadds Ford, PA)

Nominated By: Richard Thomas, Father
Click to See Nominee Page 


Andrew Thomas has many roles: captain of his football team, coach of a local youth club and a leader at the Historical Society. However, his most important role is as care-taker, mentor, counselor and leader to his family. Several years ago, Andrew's two year old brother was struck by a car in front of their family home. As one of six children, Andrew stepped up to counsel his siblings and was instrumental in his young brother's recovery. When his father lost his job of 13 years, Andrew played the role of provider, creating a lawn care business that generated $1,000 per month. When Andrew's father took a job out of state, Andrew became the man of the house. Two weeks later when his mother suffered a stroke, Andrew became the guardian of his siblings. Now that their landlord has defaulted on the mortgage, Andrew is on the search for a new home, not to mention the right college at which he would like to study history and education. It's a lot to balance while maintaining a B-average, especially for a young man who suffers from Attention Deficient Disorder and requires learning support, but Andrew always finds a way to fill every role.



Anthony Vasquez
W.B Ray Texan High School (Corpus Christi, TX)

Nominated By: Anita Vasquez
Click to See Nominee Page 


Unable to hear the crowd roar, fans chanting, and coaches calling out plays hasn’t held Anthony Vasquez back from dedicating his heart to the game.  Relying solely on American Sign Language to converse with others, Vasquez has proven that he can do just about anything he sets his mind to.  He doesn’t let his inability to hear affect his life.   He works to help adolescents struggling with hearing loss and has aspirations to become a football coach himself someday. His positive attitude assures friends and family that he will succeed.



Collin Nordstorm
Seton Hall Prep High School
(Montclair, NJ)

Nominated By: Andrea Nordstrom
Click to See Nominee Page


Getting back on the football field was something Collin Nordstrom wasn’t sure would ever happen again. Having been diagnosed with a form of cancer so rare doctors feel is should have been named after him, Collin’s life came to a sudden halt in 2010.  Though he underwent four surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and twenty-five radiation sessions, Collin remained positive. Through it all, his attitude reassured those around him that everything was going to turn out okay. And it did. This past September, Collin returned to the game he loves and even became the team’s “defensive player of the game” during their second game of the season.  Collin has proven that positive attitude and passion can get you through just about anything.  He is a true inspiration.



Addison Marshall
Foster High School
(Richmond, TX)

Nominated By: Mark Wiatrek
Click to See Nominee Page


Hurricane Katrina forced Addison Marshall’s family to move from Covington, Louisiana to Richmond, Texas. Transferring schools alone can be hard for a child, but Addison Marshall soon found other more drastic,hurdles he would have to overcome. Having been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2009, Addison was forced to drop football in exchange for an IV. A positive attitude kept this athlete fighting his illness until April of last year, when Addison’s Leukemia relapsed and spread to his central nervous system. Throughout everything, Addison feels that his life was average before cancer, and after his diagnosis, he sees how privileged he was to be able to do the simple things. Today, Addison is playing a part of the Foster High School Falcon football team. His determination to never give up is what truly inspires anyone who hears Addison Marshall’s story.


Michael Thomas
Lyons Township High School (La Grange, IL)

Nominated By: Jason Brauer
Click to See Nominee Page 


A steel plate replaced what was once a tumor growing on the front left temporal lobe of Michael Thomas’s brain.  Having been the MVP of his freshman football team, all-star athlete and roll model Michael Thomas isn’t going to let his condition stop him from doing what he loves.  After undergoing surgery to remove the tumor in 2009, Michael rejoined his high school football team as a sophomore. Although unable to participate in any physical activity, he was actively engaged in every practice and game.  Finally, during Michael’s junior year, he got the go-ahead to return to the field and play with his team. His coach, in reference to Michael’s remarkable comeback, “He came back with a passion for the game that you do not see very often in high school football”.  Michael is an inspiration to all of his coaches and teammates, not simply for his athletic ability, but also for his determination to never give up.



Jeremiah Eaton
James Madison High School
(Houston, TX )

Nominated By: Lelia Eaton
Click to See Nominee Page


Suffering from the loss of ten family members upon entrance into high school is a huge hurdle Jeremiah Eaton had to overcome.  Determined to live life to the fullest after undergoing such a horrible, life-changing tragedy proves how strong he really is. Jeremiah doesn’t let anything take him away from playing football, not even physical injury. In 2009 he was injured while playing baseball.  Within months, he was back in action playing wide receiver on his high school football team. Undergoing another sports related injury in 2010 postponed his football career. Hard work and dedication got Jeremiah back on the field four weeks later. It is safe to say Jeremiah Eaton can’t and won’t be stopped.



Sean McGrath
Cistercian High School (Irving, TX)

Nominated By: Steve McCarthy
Click to See Nominee Page


A foot insert may disguise Sean McGrath’s clubfoot while walking through the halls of Cistercian High School, but it is clear he is not your average high school athlete when seen on the football field.  Sean’s left leg is significantly shorter than his right, and he is lacking calf muscles. Throughout everything, Sean holds a positive attitude and is currently the backup linebacker for the Cistercian Hawks football team. The risk of potentially breaking his leg every time he participates in physical activity hasn’t stopped Sean from doing what he loves. He was recently the recipient of the “Flying Hawk Award” which honors the most outstanding practice player on the team. Receiving this alone shows how much Sean inspires his teammates every day. 



James Manning
Wamego HS (Wamego, KS)

Nominated By: Lisa Burgess
Click to See Nominee Page

Eagle Scout, Honor Roll student, member of the Future Farmers of America, and volunteer for local food drives, tornado relief efforts and community restoration projects: James Manning cannot be slowed down on or off the football field. Not even with a diagnosis of testicular cancer in July of 2010. James underwent surgery shortly after his diagnosis and was told he would not play football this fall; however James defied the odds and was released five weeks later, in time for the first game of the season. James has played every game since and was recently named Hy-Vee Scholar Athlete of the Week. James has stayed positive and remained a pillar of strength and inspiration to his family, teammates and community throughout this challenging time. 



Taylor McKnight
Golden Valley HS (Canyon Country, CA)

Nominated By: Robert Fisher
Click to See Nominee Page


Off the football field, Taylor McKnight can often be found tutoring his fellow teammates, serving as a mentor tutor and helping coach his local youth football program. Taylor is always there to help his community and team and inspires his peers with his tireless work ethic, selflessness and strong leadership. However, Taylor had his own challenges to overcome before he could take his position leading his team. Taylor was born with Cranial Synostosis so that his skull was fused along his temple where his soft spot should be. Without surgery Taylor's eyes, mouth and brain could not develop. When Taylor was three months old he underwent 11 hours of surgery with a neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon and a cranial facial team and experienced a cardiac arrest from the amount of morphine in his small body. Taylor was released from the hospital ten days later but was left without peripheral vision. Idiopathic tendencies kept him from walking until he was nearly two years old. With determination and hard work, Taylor has overcame a rocky start to life and has developed into a fine athlete, student and member of the community.




Drew Haugen
Sheldon High School (Eugene, Oregon)

Nominated By: Lane Johnson
Click to See Nominee Page


Drew Haugen has always had plenty of heart despite his small size, even when he was born 14 weeks premature and weighed only two pounds. After fighting 70 days for his life, Drew was released from the hospital; but the battle wasn't over yet. Drew has worn glasses since he was just a year old due to retinopathy of prematurity, and he experienced severe muscle tightness associated with Cerebral Palsy, which kept him from walking until the age of three. Drew loved football even as a toddler and asked to try out every fall until his parents let him participate in off-season training where there was no risk that he would be hit. Drew overcame the soreness of the increased activity and he developed a sense of fulfillment beyond the happiness he had known before. Drew was permitted to play the following fall and the coaches at Sheldon High School welcomed Drew as an inspiration to his teammates. After his sophomore and junior season Drew was selected a captain for the junior varsity team, and during his senior season Drew scored his first touchdown in a varsity game. Drew doesn't accept any excuses and as a member of the honors program, Leadership, National Honor Society and a peer mentor, he expects excellence from himself and his peers in all areas of life.



Anthony Bagliano
North High School
(Eastlake, OH)

Nominated By: George Burich, Coach
 Click to See Nominee Page 


Anthony was born with Holt-Oram Syndrome, which is sometimes referred to as “hand-heart syndrome.” The disease is characterized by abnormalities of the upper limbs and heart. Anthony has four digits on his left hand and three digits on his right hand, both of which are very close to his shoulders. In his short life, Anthony has also had four heart surgeries. Through all of this, he remains ever the positive force on his team, as the extra point and short field goal kicker for the North High School Rangers. Additionally, Anthony is in the process of starting a charity that will benefit cancer care and research, called “Kicking for a Cure.”



Nickolas McManigle
Luverne High School
(Luverne, AL)

Nominated By: Tammy McManigle, Mother
Click to See Nominee Page 


In May of 2011, Nick, a normal football playing teen, traveled to Oregon to visit family. While there, Nick was doing chores - lifting heavy mats to be placed in a barn - when he heard a pop. What he thought was a pulled muscle turned out to be an extensive blood clot that had blocked all of the blood flow moving into his right arm. Nick immediately underwent a total of four surgeries to remove the clot and restore blood flow to his arm. While in the hospital, however, his doctors found that a genetic anomaly had severely restricted the flow of blood to his heart and that he also had a condition called thorasic outlet syndrome. Though Nick’s vein was able to be ballooned open and the rib that had been affected by the syndrome had been fixed, he was told that he would never be able to play contact sports again. Nick told his doctors that he wouldn’t accept their opinions, and in fact, he was cleared by those same doctors to return to the field in time for the Luverne High game on the 9th of September – just two and a half months after his final surgery.



Ryan Anderson
Theodore Roosevelt High School
(Kent, OH)

Nominated By: John Nemec, Coach
Click to See Nominee Page


During the winter of 2011, Ryan Anderson was considered to be among the best football players to come out of the state of Ohio. Following a college combine workout in April, Ryan complained of having sore knee. The checkup that ensued revealed the worst - Ryan was diagnosed with osteogenticCo sarcoma, otherwise known as bone cancer. The news was devastating to Ryan’s family, teammates, and community, but through it all (the diagnoses, chemotherapy treatments and surgeries), Ryan remains the positive force that keeps everyone around him from falling apart.



Rashawn King
Middle Creek High School (Apex, NC)


Nominated By: Sean Crocker, Coach
Click to See Nominee Page 


Upon entering high school, Rashawn (Ray) King was a promising two sport athlete with college prospects and varsity letters. In the June after Ray’s sophomore year, following complaints of sluggishness, weakness and unexplained pains, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He was immediately checked into the hospital, where he remained for five weeks for treatments including chemotherapy and kidney dialysis. Throughout it all, the community rallied behind Ray, who provided inspiration to his teammates behind the battle cry “Pray for Ray!” “Pray for Ray” became “Play with Ray!” as Ray was recently cleared for full contact football.



Shane Halpin
Gulf Breeze High School (Gulf Breeze, FL)

Nominated By: Chris Nemith, Coach
Click to See Nominee Page 


When Shane Halpin was just 7 months old binocular dysfunction and developmental delays hampered  his development of fine and gross motor skills. Even simple functions like running were a major task. Shane's limited coordination forced him to give up basketball and baseball but he was able to prove himself as a starter for the football team despite his small size. In 2008, Shane was faced with yet another challenge when he was struck and pinned beneath a truck while attending the Florida Senior Bowl Game. Shane's mother and the frightened crowd shoved the unresponsive driver and his truck off of Shane before he was rushed to the hospital. Shane's battle continued as he overcame two infections during his recovery. However, with resolve and commitment Shane made it back on the field for his junior season.



David Perez
Miami Beach High School (Miami Beach, FL)

Nominated By: Ralph Jimenez, Coach
Click to See Nominee Page 


Despite undergoing five open heart surgeries in his short lifespan David Perez has not missed a single summer or spring training session since his 10th grade year. David sets an example for his team to never make excuses to not work your hardest. Through his personal demonstration of conviction, resolve and dedication David always finds a way to be with his team and make every practice. David's commitment to his team also carries over to his communities as he volunteers time with the Miami Dolphins “Special Teams” Project and passes out food to the less fortunate on Thanksgiving.



Colby Lufkin
St Edwards High School (Vero Beach, FL)

Nominated By: Kelly Lufkin, Mother
Click to See Nominee Page 


Although Colby Lufkin will be off the field for his senior season due to a back injury incurred during summer workouts his commitment to his team is unwavering. As a team-captain Colby daily provided rides to summer practices for every person in his training unit and has not missed a single practice or game despite his inability to play.  As a freshman Colby formed a youth committee with the Gaurdian Ad Litem (GAL) program, which provides support for abused, abandoned and neglected children. During the first year Colby raised enough money to provide Christmas and feelings of safety, love and care for hundreds of children, many of which had never experienced the holiday before. By Colby's junior year 1,600 children received the gift of Christmas and for his senior year Colby has approached the Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA) about taking his cause to a national level. For his work with GAL Colby was recognized as the first youth winner of the Florida State Advocacy Award.



JT Webb
Scotch Plains- Fanwood High School (Scotch Plains, NJ)

Nominated By: Coach Russell J. Yeager
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It’s hard to believe that Football could save a persons life, but this is true in the case of JT Webb.  Learning to deal with Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD at a young age left JT in lack of social skills and friends. During the 7th grade, JT gained control of his illnesses, worked with an athletic trainer, lost a significant amount of weight and went out for the football team.  His team was very successful that year, and even made it to the NYFC Championship.  Here JT gave an emotional speech and let his team know exactly what they mean to him.  He told them “ Before I came here, I almost didn’t want to live… Thank you for my life, I love this game and what it’s done for me.”  JT continues to inspire people everyday. He volunteers with autistic children, coaching them through athletics and was recently elected as “captain for a week” on his freshman football team. 



Cody McCloud
Monrovia High School (Monrovia, IN)

Nominated By: Marcy McCloud
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Determined to play football after receiving life-changing news is what makes Cody McCloud a true inspiration to all. After suffering from a concussion, undergoing a CT scan and discovering he had a brain tumor, Cody’s first question was “can I still play football?” Fortunately the growth speed of the tumor allows Cody to continue participating in the game that he loves. He is a constant reminder to his teammates of what dedication really is.



Zach Henshaw
Fisher Canyon Lake High School
(Fisher, TX)

Nominated By: Jeff Maynard
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After a sudden tragedy this past year, Zach’s primary focus switched from football to family.  The unexpected loss of his father provided Zach with a huge hurdle to jump over. Throughout everything, Zach continued to play football. His passion for the game is identified through his perseverance during practice, and his performance off the field is said to be equally extraordinary.  He continues to be a leader on and off the field.  With his positive attitude and determination to do the best he possibly can, it is safe to say that Zach Henshaw is a true inspiration.