Below is the speech Jeremy Koen of Danvers High School gave at the NFF Jack Grinold/Eastern Massachusetts Chapter annual awards banquet on May 15, 2016.

Good afternoon, I would like to thank everyone in attendance today. In particular, I would like to thank the Jack Grinold Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation for choosing such an accomplished group of student-athletes which I am honored to be a part of. I would also like to thank coach Shawn Theriault who lead my team to win the Northeastern conference, the first time in Danvers High School history, as well as my teammates including Sam Vitale who stood beside me week in and week out, and of course my parents, without whom I would not be the young man I am today let alone standing on this stage. I think I can speak on behalf of the other 32 players in saying that we would not be here today without the support of our families, our coaches and our teachers.

It is truly a privilege to play the incredible sport of football; it is a game which requires discipline, work ethic and determination. Everyone enjoys watching the bitter rivalries that the Friday night lights bring as neighboring towns square off against each other. The big hits and the break-away runs are mesmerizing for the fans, however the rigorous schedule of a football player goes unnoticed to those who have not actually strapped on the pads. This group of players knows that schedule all too well; It includes mental stress, physical battering and long film sessions, five days in a row, all in preparation for that one game a week. Not only do we prepare day in and day out in the fall, but yearlong. We endure off season workouts, spring football tournaments and, of course, summer camp, one thing that I am happy I do not have to endure anymore. As football players, we push ourselves to the absolute limit day in and day out. We understand that we practice how we play, so we consistently reach for success and perfection. Whether it is adapting to a particular offense with a new defensive formation, or simply getting our offensive cadence down, we continually settle for nothing less than perfection.

For the group of players here today however, we have done more than succeed on the field. We hold ourselves to a precedent that demands success in all aspects of our lives. Not only have we helped lead our individual teams to victory, but we have also strived for success in the classroom and in our communities. Every player here, including myself, has felt the urge to skip a homework assignment or a study session after a vigorous day of practice, one that leaves us with aches, pains and utter fatigue. However, we know better. We hold ourselves to a different standard. That unwavering determination that kept us going through practice pushes us in all aspects of our lives. I believe that the lessons that we are taught transcend the football field and influence our lives every day. We utilize the discipline and resilience that we learned on the field to overcome adversity in our individual lives.

In closing, I would like to wish good luck to the group of players here today in their future endeavors. Whichever path life may take you down, always remember to draw upon the lessons the game of football has taught you and continue to strive for excellence and success in all you do. I would like to thank my parents once again,  my dad who has coached me since I was in youth football and helped me become the young man I am today, and my mom who has kept me grounded and focused as I’ve grown and developed as a player and student. As she says, “behind every good player is a good coach, and an even better mother.”