OTTAWA — Two Ottawa-Glandorf students who have excelled in several facets of life were honored at a ceremony held in the high school auditorium Tuesday.
O-G senior Emily Annesser, 18, and junior Jay Kaufman, 17, both were honored in front of friends, family and other students for being named as finalists for the U.S. Army/Pro Football Hall of Fame Award of Excellence. They received their awards from Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Hopingardner.
“Overall is the key word here,” Munoz said. “It is great to excel athletically. However, these two students have excelled in everything they do. They do well in school, the contribute time to their community.”
Munoz said it is an award for the community as well.
“They have been able to excel because they are surrounded by good people,” Munoz said. “These students have became role models to other students by doing the right thing.
The prestigious award is given to only 25 students across the U.S. Hopingardner said it is telling that two students from the same school received the award.
“It is amazing that two kids from the same high school would be honored,” Hopingardner said.
The award is open to sophomore, junior and senior student athletes. The honor focuses on athletic achievement, excellence in academics, and community engagement.
Jay is a standout for the boys basketball and football teams. He was the first team All-Western Buckeye League quarterback this past fall.
Annesser has been a two-sport standout in both volleyball and softball. She was Western Buckeye League and District Eight Division II Player of the Year this past volleyball season. Both are 4.0 GPA students and involved as volunteers in many organizations.
Each finalist also selected a teacher who has been influential in their academic career to be recognized. Annesser chose Linda Knowlton and Jay chose Ken Schriner.
Jamir Howerton with the Pro Football Hall of Fame said the award formed a commonsense merge between the two organizations.
“We are proud to partner with the U.S. Army,” Howerton said. “We believe in the same ideals, hard work and dedication. This is an award for the two students, their school their community and their families.”
“The road to the Hall of Fame demands commitment and hard work,” Munoz said. “These are the same skills required in our military. It is everyone’s life mission to develop students that are Hall of Fame people.”
“The finalists exemplify the Hall’s core values of commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO George Veras.
Annesser said she felt grateful about being picked for the honor.
“Excellence is not just succeeding in sports,” Annesser said. “You have to find your own personal excellence.”
Jay attributed the award to his many friends, family and fellow students in attendance.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without all of you,” Jay said. “To me, excellence is giving it everything you have in everything you do.”
Annesser, Jay, and the other finalists will be featured at a special luncheon Aug. 5 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, where the overall winner will be announced. All 25 student-athletes also are able to attend the induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame class of 2017 the same weekend, which will feature the induction of Morten Andersen, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Ladainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @ LanceMihm.