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Long Island Football Players Nominated For 'Heart Of A Giant' Award

Matt Hegi Matt Hegi
Matt Hegi Photo Credit: Heart of a Giant
Angelo Lombardo Angelo Lombardo
Angelo Lombardo Photo Credit: Heart of a Giant
Ryan Micheli Ryan Micheli
Ryan Micheli Photo Credit: Heart of a Giant

Some Long Island student-athletes have been nominated for a prestigious award sponsored in part through the New York Giants.

Football players in Happaugue, Bellmore, and Farmingville have been nominated for the “Heart of a Giant” award, and now need their communities to vote them into the finals. 

Each week, 10 football players in the Tri-state area are nominated for voting, and their communities have 25 days to vote them in.

Six finalists and four honorable mention finalists will be named. Each of those will receive $1,000 for their school’s football program, with the winner receiving an additional $9,000. 

The grand prize winner will also be celebrated during an on-field ceremony at a Giants’ home game in December.

Local student-athletes to be nominated are Wellington C. Mepham High School student Matt Hegi, Angelo Lombardo from Hauppauge High School, and Sachem High School’s Ryan Micheli.

The “Heart of a Giant” award is “based on an athlete’s demonstration of commitment, dedication, will, character and teamwork. Candidates must possess a strong work ethic, leadership skills, the desire to succeed both on the field and in the classroom and the ability to inspire others to work together to achieve a common goal.”

According to the organizers of the "Heart of a Giant Award:" 
  • "Matt Hegi uses football as a distraction from his family’s history of breast cancer. Hegi’s grandmother passed away from breast cancer and his mother is a breast cancer survivor. Hegi says, 'Football helped me get my mind off those events when they were happening because I had something else to focus on and had fun doing it.' Hegi ended up thriving at this distraction, along with thriving at baseball, wrestling, school, and community service. Head Coach Anthony Cracco, 'Matt exhibits leadership as he is captain in all three sports and is a leader on and off the field. Matt definitely has the “Heart of a Giant.'"
  • "Angelo Lombardo quite literally has a special heart. By the time Lombardo was five years old, he had endured five heart surgeries. Lombardo was born with a two-chamber heart, compared to a normal four-chambered heart, which means he was diagnosed with Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome. Doctors told Lombardo he would never be able to play sports because of his heart condition. However, Lombardo didn’t let that stop him. He begged his parents to allow him to play football at six years old and has been playing ever since. Head Coach Stephen Chmela praises Lombardo for his dedication and persistence to this sport: 'He is a perfect example that nothing is impossible for anyone. All they need is to believe they can and let that belief and love for what they want to drive them towards their goal.'
  • “'In his time at Sachem East he has made an imprint on the school community and takes pride in being the best person he can be on a daily basis,' says Head Coach Philip Torregrosa about Ryan Micheli, a three-year starter on both baseball and football teams and two-year captain of the football team. Micheli discovered his love for football while trying to escape his foggy mind, a result of his OCD and severe anxiety. Micheli says, 'now with the right treatment and guidance, I was able to overcome this hardship, but I can honestly say Football has been a significant difference in the process to overcome my setbacks.' While Micheli is committed to football, maintaining his GPA, and several school and community service organizations, he’s also completely committed to playing college baseball. Micheli’s commitment to college baseball paid off; he accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Stony Brook University."

The nominees can be voted on here.

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