Below is the speech that Endicott College (Mass.) football player Craig Anderson gave at the NFF Jack Grinold/Eastern Mass Chapter's annual awards banquet on May 15, 2016.

First and foremost, I would just like to say what an honor it is to have been chosen to receive such a prestigious award. I know there were plenty of terrific candidates, so it truly is an honor and a privilege to be recognized. I never had the pleasure of meeting Jack Daly, so after learning I had been selected to receive an award in his name I decided to do a little bit of research on him. This is when I learned what an amazing man Mr. Daly was. He was a phenomenal athlete, Lieutenant in the Navy, well-respected official, successful businessman, and a selfless volunteer. Jack Daly was beloved by all who knew him, so being recognized with an award in his name is truly an honor.

With all these great high school student athletes sitting up here, I am going to take a page out of my head coach’s book and talk about our team’s core values. At Endicott our football team lives by five core values. Each finger on our hand represents each of these core values. First, we have the thumb. The thumb represents positivity. It is important to keep a positive attitude throughout all your challenges, whether it be academics, athletics, or anything else, positivity is key. It may sound cliché, but positivity is what is going to get you through those 90-degree days in mid-August when you are into the grind of preseason. Second, we have the pointer finger. Whenever you see someone hold up this finger, you think of winning and one of major components of winning is competition, so this finger represents competition. In our program we obviously compete with all the teams on our schedule, but we are also always competing among ourselves.

Teammates pushing teammates to be better in practice, in the weight room, and in the classroom is a major key to success. Additionally, a competitive nature is truly what coaches are going to be looking for in incoming freshman players. If you guys show you are willing to out-compete everyone else then coaches will find a place somewhere on the field for you. Now comes the middle finger. I won’t hold that one, but the middle finger represents the attitude a football player needs. Football players need to be able to flip a switch once they get on the field and turn into a completely different person. They also need to know how to flip that switch off once football is over and be a positive influence in their community because, know it or not, no matter where everyone sitting up here is playing, you will be leaders the day you set foot on campus. Next, we have the ring finger. For obvious reasons, this finger is symbolic of trust and commitment. Having a close bond with your teammates is what makes great teams into championship teams.

As you all know, football is the ultimate team sport and if you don’t trust the guy next to you, then you’re not going to be a very good team. Everybody has a job on the football field. As a defensive end, I know I can’t let the quarterback get outside of me, but I also need to trust that my defensive backs are going to cover their assignments to give me an opportunity to rush the passer. Building this trust in your teammates doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t just happen on the field. In order to build this level of trust you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable with your teammates. This includes going out and getting involved with community service projects and other types of volunteering. And finally, last but not least, the pinky finger. As the smallest finger, the pinky finger represents the little things.

Doing the little things like getting that last rep in the weight room, getting all your assignments for class in on time, and volunteering when your teams present you with community service opportunities are what are going to make you a leader on and off the field. So in review, we have positivity, competition, attitude, trust and commitment, and the little things. But those five things cannot stand-alone. When someone is making a fist, it takes all five fingers coming together. If any finger is excluded, then the punch is not going to be very powerful. The same goes with the five core values. Without one, there’s no punch, but with them all together, that is a true recipe for success on and off the field.

I understand I’m preaching to the choir because all the phenomenal student athletes sitting up here wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t already distinguished themselves as great leaders on their respective teams, but I challenge them to continue their leadership and success on the next level, whatever that level may be. Thank you.