Every December, ESPN analysts and college football fans eagerly await the results of the Heisman Trophy Award winner.
But what many fans don't know is the next day, two high school students get a variation of the same award, in the same theatre.
The Wendy's High School Heisman program began in 1994. Each year one female and one male high school student wins the award at a banquet, this year held at the Nokia Theatre in New York City.
Unlike the Heisman award show, it doesn't have a pre-show roundtable, there isn't national coverage of it in the newspaper, the ceremony is quick, and sometimes the nominees are given a Frosty on stage.
The program picks its finalists based on three qualities: scholastics, athletics and citizenship.
Most nominees are honors or Advanced Placement students, play several different sports, have been accepted to Ivy League colleges, and participate in several different types of community service projects.
Most of the winners don't become big time athletes, but they make an impact in their communities.
For example, the first male winner Barrett Robinson, in his 2008 update, wrote he was in his final year of residency at a hospital in Boston, where he was the Administrative Chief Resident.
He moved to Chicago to finish his training and recently got married. There is no mention of sports but he is definitely impacting his community and making a difference.
The first female winner, Trisha Perry, is 100 percent committed to her community, volunteering in her neighborhood where she is captain of the Citizen On Patrol program.
She is the Regional Director for Rehabilitation for Nova Medical Centers and is on the Arizona School of Health Sciences alumni board.
Again, although sports helped her get her Wendy's High School Heisman award, sports is no longer a factor in her life.
More current winners, however, are active in their sports. The 2008 male winner Brett Leibowitz left the lights of Las Vegas for the cold of Princeton University in New Jersey.
While he played Varsity Sprint Football during his freshman year, his main focus was his studies.
His program is a three-part engineering program, focusing on engineering, math, and physics. When asked what winning the award meant to him, he focused on being allowed to act as a role model for other students in his community.
2008 female winner Kathy Kroeger stayed active in running track and cross country after a summer working at the YMCA. She is focusing on her math studies at Stanford University.
Today, the 2009 banquet aired on ESPN.
The female winner was Malia Cali of Hammond, LA where she plays soccer, runs cross country and track and field, and participates in weight lifting. Academically, she has been on the Principal's List for 12 consecutive semesters and plans on becoming a physical therapist or a bio-mechanical engineer. While accepting her finalist medal, Malia was given a strawberry Frosty on stage.
The male winner was Kyle Pollock of Wiggins, CO where he runs track and field, plays football and is on the wrestling team. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Honor Roll and received the University of Colorado Outstanding Junior Award. He plans to stay active in his community service projects with the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots, amongst others. Although he hasn't chosen a college, he already knows he wants to take his education through to graduate school, thanks to his love of reading.
Several alumni are still active in sports, both as coaches and athletes. One is even training for the 2012 Olympics in London.
For more information on the Wendy's High School Heisman program and how the finalists are chosen, as well as bios on the past winners, visit their website at www.wendyshighschoolheisman.com .
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