SAYREVILLE – A student at Sayreville War Memorial High School has been nominated for an award recognizing Tri-State athletes who demonstrate accomplishments off the field.
Aiden Gilbert is among the nominees for the 2022 Heart of a Giant Award. The award from the non-profit organization USA Football, presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants, highlights students associated with sports in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. According to USA Football, the award focuses on the characteristics of commitment, character, teamwork, dedication and will.
Eleven finalists will be selected from the nominees and each finalist will receive $1,000 for their high school’s football program, according to Will Schneiderhan of Excel Sports Management. The grand prize winner will receive an additional $10,000.
Voting is open until Oct. 2, according to Schneiderhan. Individuals may cast their votes at: https://www.usafootball.com/hoagvote/
According to his profile, Aiden began playing football as a freshman at Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS). He selected “character” as his characteristic for the award.
“I chose character because that’s the trait that really shows who you are,” he said. “It shows how you treat other people and the way you react in situations. Just recently, I tore a muscle in my leg, which led to ending my season. When I got the news, I didn’t let it keep me down or stay negative about it. I chose to look at better things and still thought about how I can be there for my teammates when they need me.”
In his profile, Aiden described an incident the day before his 10th birthday that harmed and left a lasting impact on his father.
“My dad didn’t even get to wish me a happy birthday when finally hitting double digits,” Aiden said. “It was a really tough time for me, but my mom was able to help me through it all and keep me positive. Still to this day, I wonder how things would be now if his accident never happened, but you can’t dwell on the past forever. It had me frustrated and angry all the time, but those two things won’t keep you moving forward.”
He credited football with helping him overcome what happened to his father.
“Football kept me happy and helped me release the anger and frustration I’ve always had kept in,” Aiden said. “Football has also made me a lot of new friends who I can depend on.”
According to Schneiderhan, Aiden learns as many positions as possible to help his team and has switched his position during games to help his team win when a teammate was injured. Aiden stated in his profile that he helps others with their problems whether on football plays or personal issues.
As a freshman, Aiden won the Bombers Coaches’ Award and is on his high school’s honor roll, according to his profile.