Freeporter High School Red Devils football player Jayvian Allen, 16, was nominated for USA Football’s Heart of a Giant Award presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants in October.
Allen was one out of 10 tri-state football players nominated in the fifth round or fifth week of the ten-week contest. By the end of the fifth week, Allen was named the winner with over 6000 votes from family, friends, teachers, classmates, teammates, but most of all Freeporters. According to a spokesperson at USA Football, Allen received 1,000 votes more than any of the other finalists.
During the week of Oct. 21, Freeporters rallied around Allen and logged onto the Freeport Herald’s Facebook page to share the voting link with local groups, friends and encouraged everyone to vote.
“You can vote every day,” Diane Cetin announced through her post on Facebook.
Others shared hearty “congratulations” or announced to the friends they had voted. In a single day, approximately 1800 Freeporters talked about Allen’s nomination with positive words of encouragement, according to Facebook analytics.
“Go big red machine and all of its working parts,” Jack McCormack wrote on Facebook.
Allen is a junior at FHS and plays as a defensive back, free safety and slotback, on the varsity football squad — Nassau County’s highest-ranking team but also ranks eighth in New York State and presently undefeated, according to Max Preps. He’s been known to open a game with a scoring 6-yard touchdown run and recently played a blowout game against the Uniondale High School Knights on Nov. 2 with a score of 34-0.
But when he’s not running 55-yard touchdowns against Oceanside High School Sailors, he’s calm and cool — a kid with a few words. The way he sees it, he leaves his anger out in the football field.
Off the field, he breathes football too. His mother, Chatese referred the Allens as a “football family.”
“Throughout it, all my parents never missed a game and me seeing them there every week gave me hope that we would overcome the things that they were going through,” says Allen.
During off-seasons, he plays baseball but has also played soccer, lacrosse, wrestling and track. But he also focuses on his schoolwork. Though a B-student, Allen said he is focused on keeping his grades and has ambitions of playing football at North Carolina State University, maybe even play professionally one day.
Allen is also a volunteer coach for the Freeport Red Ravens and spends Sundays helping the peewee league with plays, concessions and even mentors some of the kindergarten through seventh-grade players.
As the season nears its final stretch and the contest does too, Allen will face new finalists from the New York and New Jersey — he is one of three finalists from Long Island — Max Marra from Glen Cove and Richie Arnett from Bay Shore. Winners will be announced in December.
Allen may potentially be among, six finalists and four honorable mention finalists who will receive $1,000 for their high school’s football program, with the winner’s school getting an additional $9,000.
In the last round, voting will be based on video submissions. Judges, according to Dr. Samuel Taylor, of Hospital for Special Surgery, are looking for youth leaders that demonstrate the core values of commitment, dedication, will, character and teamwork.
The contest, Taylor said raises awareness in football-associated injuries. According to Taylor, football players are at a high risk of orthopedic injury.
“We are hoping to raise awareness around injury prevention and the need for high school programs to have the proper equipment for students,” Taylor said. “By gifting the student’s program with grants, we [can] provide the school the ability to identify and fulfill their individual equipment needs.”
Darryl, Allen’s dad, said to see his him receive this recognition only affirms his son’s commitment to his community. “I’ve seen it since he was a young age,” he said. “He’s just a good kid and works hard at everything he does.”