Whether on the football field or in a community, leaders work to make everyone around them better.
Connor Grogan of Manasquan (N.J.) High School has shown he can be an example during practice, on game nights and in the classroom.
But his leadership skills go further than that, which is why he was named the 2012 Timex Heart of a Giant grand prize winner.
“Whether it was playing through injury, scoring the winning touchdown or helping others in need Connor puts the needs of many ahead of his own and leads with the heart of a giant,” Manasquan High School head coach Jay Price said.
Grogan’s service didn’t end there.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Connor – along with his teammates – led us to help others in need when he could very well have been the one on the receiving end,” Price said. “His leadership, both on and off the field, served as an example for others to follow.”
This fall, USA Football, Timex and the New York Giants searched the Tri-State Area for the one player who exemplifies it all.
The Timex Heart of a Giant program recognized players from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who displayed commitment, determination, will and character as part of their high school football programs in 2012.
Grogan, whose own house was flooded with more than four feet of water, said people don’t get to pick when it’s time to lead and set an example. Leaders rise to occasions as they happen.
“I try to be a role model to the children in the community, because I remember the days when I used to idolize the Manasquan High School football players as a kid,” Grogan said.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we faced unimaginable hardships as a result of the storm but never did we complain. You would never know that more than half of my teammates were forced to evacuate their homes, fleeing only with what they could carry. For close to 20 days, we lived without electricity and hot water, finding shelter with friends or relatives.
“Our head coach, a volunteer fireman, risked his life and went without sleep for days to help in the search and rescue effort. People put aside personal hardships to dig sand and rubble to get people out. I don’t feel like I deserve this award, but my community certainly does.”
Ten players were nominated by coaches and teammates each week for six weeks with a fan vote selecting the weekly winner. Overall winners were determined by representatives of Timex and USA Football.
Grogan’s grand prize is a $5,000 equipment grant to his high school football program. He also was recognized on the field during the Giants’ Week 17 home game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We lost quite a few helmets in reconditioning last season and couldn’t replace them all,” Price said. “Anticipating the loss of several more this season, we will use the money to outfit our players with new helmets, solving the numbers problem and making them safer in the process.”
Two runner-up award winners – Rahhim Shillingford of Putnam Valley (N.Y.) High School and Chris Soule of Stamford (Conn.) Westhill High School – will receive $2,500 gift cards for their high school football programs from Sports Authority.
You can read about them all and check out the Timex Heart of a Giant program at: http://www2.usafootball.com/app/webroot/timex.