Thomas Leavitt, a former quarterback at the University of New Hampshire and now a successful banker and community leader in Vermont, gave the following speech after accepting the NFF Vermont Chapter's Distinguished American Award on May 1, 2016.

For its practitioners on the gridiron, football is decidedly not a lifetime sport.

I took my last snap, completed my last pass, and booted my last punt the month that 52 Americans began 444 days of captivity after being taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. That was a long time ago.

But, during perhaps the most formative 12 years of my life, the game was central and defining. This was when I learned about how to compete, how to play by the rules, how to win with dignity, how to handle a supporting role as a good teammate and how to hold up under disappointment.

It is when I had the privilege of learning life lessons from coaches named Hogan, McCarthy, Wheeler and Bowes.

It is when coaches I did not have the honor of playing for, like Jordan and Heineken, exemplified to me the gold standard in commitment to their schools, their teams, and their communities.

It is when teammates like Dennis Burnham and Grady Vigneau taught me what it means to carry the controlled passion of a leader in a way that inspires the best in others.

Most important, it is when I was drawn to the brain power of a pre-calculus classmate that also happened to be the beautiful captain of the cheerleading squad. She’s right there. We have a shared a rich journey, raising two wonderful sons.

My humble gratitude to the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation for this honor, one that has previously gone to Vermonters I hold in high esteem. 

And my congratulations to all the award recipients here this evening. I have been inspired by this next generation; our future is in good hands. To Coach Norman, Coach Murnyack, Coach Ritter, and Coach Volpone – thank you for showing with your winning programs that Vermont is a great football state.

May you all gain as much as I have from your devotion to this game. Thank you.