CASTLETON — The Vermont chapter of the National Football Foundation honored the best of the 2018 football season Sunday at its 26th annual Vermont Chapter Awards Dinner held at Castleton University’s Glenbrook Gymnasium.
Colchester High’s Bailey Olson received the Most Courageous Athlete Award and Scholarship. Now a senior, he overcame a heart defect that required a pair of open heart surgeries as a child to prosper as a student-athlete in football and track and field for the Lakers, earning all-state honors this past fall as a receiver. Always closely monitored by cardiologists, the hard-working and speedy Olson competed in January for the U.S. Select National Football team at International Bowl X at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Jake Cady, a senior all-state quarterback from St. Johnsbury Academy, is the winner of the Robert Stafford High School Athlete Community Service Award. The 2018 Vermont Gatorade Football Player of the Year for the Hilltoppers, Cady and his family formed a successful nonprofit organization in honor of his grandfather; “Team Sullycat” raises money to benefit families who have loved ones fighting cancer. He also donated his $1,000 scholarship from his Gatorade award to help form the St. Johnsbury Recreation Department’s youth flag football program.
Last month, six high school seniors were announced as 2018 Vermont High School Football Scholar-Athlete Inductees. John “Jake” Baker, of Burr and Burton, Patrick Burke, of Mount Mansfield, Mark Howrigan, of BFA-St. Albans, Nick Porter, of Hartford, Renwick Smith, of St. Johnsbury Academy, and Cameron Wescott, of Poultney, each received a $500 scholarship.
The six were among 24 finalists. The others recognized at the dinner were: Reno Tuttle, Bellows Falls; Kristopher Carroll, Brattleboro; Duncan Macdonald, Burlington/South Burlington; Jason Rosner, Champlain Valley; Grady Corkum, Essex; Aaron Szabo, Fair Haven; Kayden Lewis, Lyndon; Josh McQuinn, Milton; Will Greenough, Missisquoi Valley; Chris Mayer, Mount Anthony; Jacob Provost, North Country; Ryan Byrnes, Rice Memorial; Austin Robertson, Rutland; Sam Bigglestone, Spaulding; Deacon Watson, Springfield; Ryan Barr, U-32; Ryland Richardson, Windsor and Colchester’s Olson.
Seniors Grant Cummings, a linebacker from Castleton University, Kevin Maxwell, a linebacker from Middlebury College, offensive lineman John Lemay, Jr., from Norwich University, and Eddie Hockenbury, a back and president for the University of Vermont Club program, were named Vermont Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame inductees, representing the state’s four collegiate football programs. Cummings and Hockenbury were both honored as high school seniors in 2015 while Maxwell was one of seven Panthers recently named to the prestigious National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society.
A longtime coach, volunteer and administrator, Don Fullam, was the winner of the Vermont Youth Football Leadership Award for his efforts for over three decades with all levels of football in his hometown of Bellows Falls, including the town’s youth programs and high school teams.
The 2018 Vermont Coach of the Year Award, named by the state’s coaches, went to longtime Mount Mansfield Union head coach Marty Richards for leading the Cougars to their first-ever state title, the 2018 Division I crown. The other divisional coaches of the year were Jason Thomas, of Burr and Burton Academy, in Division II, and Dave Capman, of Poultney, in Division III.
The Vermont Football Officials Association gave its season-long team sportsmanship awards. The Stan Amadon Trophy for the North was awarded to U-32 High School, led by head coach Brian Divelbliss. In the South, Oxbow High School, coached by Jason Marsh, was awarded the James Howard Trophy. The officials’ group also named veteran official Rob Black the 2019 Vermont Official of the Year.
Former University of Vermont student-athlete, coach and longtime administrator Richard “Rick” Farnham, of South Burlington, received the Contribution to Amateur Athletics Award for his 40-plus years of service to athletics. A standout lineman at Brattleboro Union High, Vermont Academy and the University of Vermont, Farnham began his coaching career at South Burlington High in 1969 before moving on to coach at UVM in 1973.
He held several coaching positions at his collegiate alma mater before becoming an assistant athletic director and then served as the Catamounts’ Director of Athletics from 1991 to 2003.
Since retiring from UVM, he has been a popular teacher and speaker at the collegiate and high school leve. In addition to volunteering his services to many civic organizations around the state, Farnham has been a driving force behind the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation since its inception.
Kelly Brush Davisson, of Charlotte, was given the Vermont Chapter’s Distinguished American Award. A native Vermonter and talented alpine ski racer at Middlebury College, she suffered a severe life-changing spinal cord injury in a race as a sophomore in 2006. After surgeries and intense rehabilitation, and being confined to a wheelchair, she returned to school and graduated with her class at Middlebury in the spring of 2008.
Brush Davisson was given the select NCAA Inspiration Award in 2009. Currently an active athlete despite her paralysis, she is a wife, mother and a pediatric nurse practitioner in the Burlington area. After her injury, she and her family started the Kelly Brush Foundation (KBF), a nonprofit, to inspire and empower people with spinal cord injuries to lead active and engaged lives, and promote ski safety. With fundraisers including very successful bike rises in Vermont and throughout the U.S., the KBF has raised close to $5 million and has awarded over 600 grants across the country.