Below is the speech high school scholar-athlete Connor Plante gave at the NFF Vermont Chapter Awards Banquet on May 1, 2016.

Good evening,

First of all I’d like to thank the National Football Foundation for this induction. Words cannot express how grateful and honored I am. When I began playing football my freshman year, after having played soccer throughout my youth, I would have never imagined this opportunity. Most of all, I’d like to thank my family. They were with me every step of the way, even when I broke my wrist during warm-ups of my third game ever. Where many others would have stopped all together, my family made it clear that there was no doubt that I’d be back the next year.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has supported me along the way, including my junior varsity coaches, Pat Brown and Chris Gilbert, who welcomed me into the program with open arms. They taught me the game that I’ve come to love, and without their help, I would not have been able to be here. I’d like to thank Dennis and Doug Belisle, who joined our coaching staff just a couple of years ago and have helped build the program back to what it needs to be. Thank you to Coach Brennan Carney and Coach Adam Cate, who pushed me to be my best day in and day out. Whether it was insisting on one more rep, or forcing me to fight through the fatigue, they instilled the confidence and ability in me so that I could perform at the varsity level. Coach Carney and Coach Cate have helped shape me into the person I am today. And finally, I’d like to thank my second family - the one that was with me on the field during every practice and every game. It was in my teammates that I found a home that allowed me to grow not only as an athlete, but as a person, a friend. For that, I will forever be grateful.

Football is an incredible sport. Back in 2012, I heard countless times before my first practice that football is a game purely consisting of men wearing tight uniforms hitting each other. It was within two practices that I was convinced otherwise. Changing sports from soccer, a mainly free-flowing sport with limited play design, football genuinely confused me. Hole numbers, gap assignments, routes, coverages… and I thought all I had to do was run fast and catch a ball. After my first game, I realized that football isn’t a meathead sport - it’s not a game where brawn dominates brains. Football is the most intricate take on chess-like strategy I have ever encountered in my life, and my only regret is not starting earlier.

Thank you.