High school football player recognized for leadership on and off the field

Winnipeg’s high school football season is over and now the awards have been handed out.

Among those was the Harry Hood Award, which has been handed out since 1954.

The award is given to the athlete who “exemplifies the standard in playing ability, school citizenship, fair play and scholastic standing.”

This year’s recipient was Nevan Brown, a middle linebacker with the Dakota Lancers.

He broke the Winnipeg High School Football record with 99 tackles this season and is also sporting a 94 average in school.

He said he was honoured when he found out he was the 2022 recipient.

“I think it speaks a lot to not only the player I am on the field but the individual I am in the community and in the classroom as well. It’s just really good to have the recognition not only for being a good football player, but being a good person,” said Brown.

Head Coach Mitchell Harrison said he couldn’t have asked for a better leader to be on the team but notes he demonstrates his leadership in his day-to-day life.

“We do a ton of volunteering at Dakota in the community. Again he’s the first guy signing up for those things. He’s always ready to go and ready to lead a group in volunteering or do whatever he needs to do to make sure it’s a success,” said Harrison.

He said the work Brown does continuously rubs off on other players who then in turn strive to be better.

“(Brown) is just an absolute stud in terms of football but also leadership and academics and volunteerism. I’m going to be sad, I’m not going to lie, I’m going to be sad when he is gone.”

Harrison added seeing kids succeed like this is why he loves the job that he has and knows Brown is going to have a positive impact in the world, whether that be on or off the field.

Brown said he has always been motivated to be the best version of himself, no matter what he is doing.

“There’s a lot of people that can be good at football, right? But football ends at some point and you have to be able to help in other aspects of your life too. So it’s just important to me to expand my knowledge and capabilities in areas outside of football as well,” said Brown.

Brown started playing football when he was nine years old and debated quitting after his first year because he struggled, but he said his dad’s encouragement kept him going.

“My second year, the ball started rolling a little bit, things started to click. Won an atom division championship that year. I was a pivotal player on the defensive side of the ball and I have just been improving ever since.”

Brown is in Grade 12 and said he has three scholarships to play football—at the University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina.

He said he hopes his post-secondary career will lead to him playing the CFL, but he knows his education is important as well.

“My plan is to go into kinesiology, probably take a look at a business minor. So one of my aspirations is to own my own gym or physio practice sometime in the future.”

Harrison said seeing Brown’s success will be a great motivator for players next year.

“The biggest impact for me as a coach is you now have people competing to be good leaders and to be good citizens outside of just competing to be good football players. And understanding that the expectation, when we talk about things like determination or grit or resiliency, we’re talking about the whole human, and not just you as a football player.”

The Harry Hood Award also comes with a $1,000 scholarship that is presented by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Alumni Association.

An entire list of previous award winners can be found online.

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