AUGUSTA, Maine - Today, Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, Inc. and Frank J. Gaziano's son-in-law, announced the scholarship winners of the Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards during a luncheon ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center.
From left to right: Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, Alec Clark of Winslow High School, Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards and Frank Curran of Cheverus High School.
Alec Clark of Winslow High School and Frank Curran of Cheverus High School were named the top senior football offensive and defensive linemen in the state based on their hard work on the field, in the classroom, and in their communities. The two winners each received a trophy, leather jacket and scholarship of $5,000, the largest high school football scholarship of its kind in the country.
The runners-up for the Gaziano Awards were offensive linemen Charles Kovarik from Portland High School and Isaac Patry from Thornton Academy, and defensive linemen Elijah Ayotte from Thornton Academy and Tyrell Gullatt from Windham High School. Each runner-up received a $1,000 scholarship, trophy and a leather jacket with the Gaziano Awards logo. The web broadcast of the event can be found at www.munzingmediasports.com/gaziano-award.
The scholarship and awards program for Maine senior high school football linemen was created in memory of Frank J. Gaziano, founder of National Distributors and a former college All American and professional football player with a lifelong passion for local sports. Funding for the $14,000 in scholarships is provided by National Distributors in South Portland, the company founded by the late Gaziano. During the six years of the Gaziano Awards, $68,000 has been awarded by National Distributors to Maine students.
Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Award and Scholarship Recipients:
Alec Clark, Winslow High School
Frank J. Gaziano Offensive Lineman of the Year
Clark made the honor roll at Winslow High School and earned High Honors MMTC in 2014-2015. A four-year starter, Clark has never missed a game in his high school career. He is a two-time all-conference selection and in 2015 led the Winslow defense with 54 tackles and five sacks. In 2015, he was named to the first team all-conference team on both offense and defense sides of the ball. He was also named the Morning Sentinel Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year. Away from the field, he is a three-time powerlifting champion for his age group in Maine and holds several United States records. His extracurricular activities include horseback riding and he is a member of the 4-H Club. He volunteers by coaching youth football and cheerleading. He has also volunteered for food drives and supported the local homeless shelter. Clark is also a business owner of A.C Pumpkins in Winslow.
"It's quite an honor to receive this award. First, I would like to thank the Gaziano family and the committee behind all this for selecting me for such an honor and award. I would also like to thank the ones in the community, especially those at Winslow High School, it's an amazing place and community, including the coaching staff. I would also like to thank my family. Growing up with six brothers, you kind of fight for the food at the dinner table and you know what...sometimes you make out and sometimes you don't. I love my brothers to death," said Clark.
Frank Curran, Cheverus High School
Frank J. Gaziano Defensive Lineman of the Year
Curran, a three year starter for the Stags, was captain of the 2015 squad. He finished the season with 63 tackles and five sacks and was named lineman of the year in Class A North. As an active member of his community, he has helped with community clean-up projects, volunteered at the local food kitchen, helped with food drives and participated in several events to raise awareness for breast cancer.
"It's an honor to represent the name of Frank Gaziano, I strive to be half the man that he was. It's a good feeling to know I will always be on that trophy, so I will always be a part of him and that's a great feeling. I can't put in to word's how thankful I am and what this actually means, not just to me but to the school and my family, I am just so thankful," said Curran.
The finalists considered for the annual Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards epitomize the character, leadership, and perseverance of Gaziano. The top recipients were selected by the awards committee based on their strong leadership on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.
"The way the Patriots season ended, shines a light on how important both an offensive and defensive line can be. When you hear the stories and background about each of these young men, I know Frank would be proud to see the contributions they have made on the field and in their communities. When you hear the stories from previous winners about what the scholarship did for them, it is clear that this event and scholarship has become about much more than football. As a company, we are proud to continue the tradition of supporting these young men with scholarships so they can pursue their future goals. I know Frank is somewhere up there thinking about the impact this scholarship has made on students and their familes," said Kane.
All eligible applicants must have been a high school senior in 2015, competed at the varsity level for a minimum of two years and have an exemplary record of positive athletic and non-athletic citizenship. As part of the selection process, the students submitted an essay and game film featuring each lineman against his toughest competition.
Applicants from all levels of Maine's high school football were eligible for the scholarship and able to be nominated by their coaches. For more information on the scholarship program application process, or to contribute to the scholarship fund, visit www.gazianolinemanawards.org.
Editor's note: Winners and runners-up for the Gaziano Awards and Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards, are available for interviews by contacting Greg Glynn at Nancy Marshall Communications at 207-620-9076.
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Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, Alec Clark of Winslow High School, Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards and Frank Curran of Cheverus High School.
Alec Clark of Winslow High School accepts the scholarship check from with Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors
Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, Charles Kovarik from Portland High School Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards
Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, and Isaac Patry from Thornton Academy Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards
Elijah Ayotte from Thornton Academy
Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, Tyrell Gullatt from Windham High School and Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards