A new scholarship and awards program for Maine high school football players has been established in memory of Frank J. Gaziano, founder of National Distributors of South Portland and a former college All-American and professional football player.
The annual Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards will be presented to players who epitomize the character, leadership and perseverance of Gaziano. Recipients will be selected by an awards committee based on leadership on the field, in the classroom and in the community.
One offensive player and one defensive player will be awarded a first-place trophy and a $2,500 scholarship, and the winners’ names will be engraved on permanent plaques that will rotate each year among high schools with honored players. Two runners-up also will be recognized in each category, with each receiving a commemorative plaque.
All six honorees each year will receive a special leather jacket.
Peter DiSimon, a New England key account manager with PepsiCo, spearheaded the creation of the awards program along with the Gaziano family.
Applicants must be a high school senior, have played varsity football for a minimum of two years and have an exemplary record of positive athletic and nonathletic citizenship. The submission of a student essay and a game film featuring the applicant competing against his toughest competitor are part of the application process. All finalists will be invited to appear before the awards committee for a personal interview.
Applicants are nominated by their coaches, and coaches may nominate any number of players from all levels of Maine’s high school football system. This year’s deadline for submitting applications is 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10. For nomination forms and additional information, visit www.gazianolinemanawards.org or call 773-1718, ext. 3303.
Recipients will be honored at an awards banquet to be held at the Augusta Civic Center on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011.
Gaziano, of Cape Elizabeth, was a well-known benefactor and businessman in the Portland area. He graduated from Holy Cross in 1941 and went on to a pro football career with the Washington Redskins and Boston Yanks (now the Indianapolis Colts). Gaziano died on Jan. 16 at age 92.
The Frank J. Gaziano Lineman Awards board of directors includes DeSimon, Windham High School football coach Matt Perkins, Pete Cloutier, Jill Gaziano Mitchell, Jeff Kane of National Distributors, Mike Haley, Charles Hews, Skowhegan High football coach Mike Marston, also of the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelters, and Michael Quinlan of the Portland law firm Jensen, Baird, Gardner and Henry.