For nearly a centruy, the Deseret News has highlighted the outstanding accomplishments of high school football players in Utah with the publication of all-state teams in each classification.
This year, the Deseret News is expanding its postseason awards to highlight the incredible accomplishments of student-athletes off the field with the inaugural Humanitarian of the Year awards.
The award highlights outstanding student-athlete citizens who go above and beyond every day to make a difference in the school and their community through a variety of different means.
Coaches in each classification were asked to nominate players from their team, and then the nominees were voted on by the state’s coaches.
Here’s a look at the award winners in each of the six classifications.
6A Humanitarian of the Year
Boston Farmer, West Jordan
Boston Farmer loves his West Jordan roots, and loves interacting with and helping those in his community whenever he can.
Earlier this year he helped organize a football team service project at Tiny Tims Toy Foundation where the team assembled and painted wooden cars that are sent to needy children throughout the world. The team assembled over 2,000 cars.
Each year, he also participates in the Comcast Cares days where West Jordan residents volunteer time to clean up the city, plant trees, pull weeds, etc.
He loves to help those in his own high school community. For his Eagle Scout project, Farmer organized a food, hygiene supplies and clothing drive in his neighborhood and filled 23 boxes full of supplies. They were then donated to the pantry in the West Jordan High School principal’s office which is open to any student in need can go and get necessary items.
Asked what motivates him to be of service in his community, Farmer said:
“My main motivation is loyalty. I have lived in West Jordan my whole life and it’s the community and people I know and love. I didn’t have to look far to find that there are a lot of needs within my local community. Being able to help kids and families from my high school and elementary schools over the last few years has been awesome and a great experience. Love, loyalty and dedication can do a lot.”
Runner-up: Dalfino Sandoval, Cyprus
5A Humanitarian of the Year
Jarom Gilbert, Olympus
Whether it’s helping “Jigs” or the “Rev,” Jarom Gilbert goes above and beyond to serve those in his Olympus High community and the greater Utah community as well.
When they can, Gilbert and his family volunteer their time on Sunday mornings at the Fill the Pot Ministry in Salt Lake City helping the Rev. Jay and his wife Toni prepare food for those in need and then clean up afterward as well. He’s an active member of the Olympus club Friend 2 Friend, a nonprofit that serves the greater Holladay area. Its mission is building friendships through service. This year, they helped build kits for kids who go homeless after school.
Over the past couple years, Gilbert was befriended “Jigs,” an immigrant from India who now owns the 7-Eleven across the street from Olympus. Football coach Aaron Whitehead said, “all the kids now him.”
During several holidays throughout the year, Gilbert and his family help Jigs deliver pizza, coffee, hot chocolate and blankets to feed the homeless in Salt Lake City.
This past month Gilbert’s family welcomed Jigs’ family over for Thanksgiving dinner.
Asked what motivates him to be of service in his community, Gilbert said:
“I love seeing the smiles of the people I get to serve. We never know what people are going through so all we can do is make an attempt to make their lives better. The main motivation for me is to inspire others to serve as well. If we all serve in some way, everyone’s lives will be a lot better.”
Runner-up: Jarrett Harmon, Payson
4A Humanitarian of the Year
Jordan Wade, Snow Canyon
Jordan Wade is often the tallest person in the room, but he also has one of the biggest hearts who is calm and inviting to anyone he interacts with.
The root of much of it is his special needs and deaf aunt, Chelsey. Wade learned at a young age how to communicate and interact with his aunt with love, and it’s created a natural ability with special needs children. Earlier this school year, he was in his element helping Snow Canyon teacher Jocelyn Hobson with a Fall Sports Fest for all ability youth and adults. He and some of his teammates organized the football section.
“There was a lot of smiling and a lot of joy. Jordan as able to meet a person for the first time, some who had never had the chance to hold a football, and put them through a drill that matched their ability. Give them praise and help them enjoy the game. He genuinely made every participant feel how important they are,” said Snow Canyon coach Mike Esplin.
Family and community are huge elements of Wade’s life. On Thanksgiving he helped serve dinner for the homeless, and went out of his way to uplift those he interacted with. This year we also made sure to help out his cousin with his Eagle Scout project by cleaning up a local cemetery.
Esplin said the importance Wade placed on his role as captain exemplified his kind heart.
“Jordan is a great football player but he and his fellow captains excelled in the more important roles of that designation. Jordan genuinely cared about everybody. He engaged everybody on the team and naturally made his teammates feel how important they were to our team, the school, and the community. He helped in a big way create a positive energy at practices, meetings, and games,” said Esplin
Asked what motivates him to be of service in his community, Wade said:
“I am motivated to better because of my church beliefs. It has taught me to want to be more Christlike.”
3A Humanitarian of the Year
Chet Colvin, Ogden
Whether it’s serving 2,000 miles away in Zihuantanejo, Mexico, or in the halls of his own his own high school, Ogden’s Chet Colvin is always happy to be a positive influence to those in need.
Just this week, Colvin played a big role in helping Ogden coach Erik Thompson organize a Christmas event for all the special needs kids at Ogden High School.
This summer, Colvin spent three weeks in Mexico with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help build a senior center. Colvin said it took five different volunteer groups to finish the center, and his group was the first one. The first week they dug all the trenches and helps for the foundation. The second week was prep work with rebar and getting things ready for the cement. The final week was filling the trenches and holes with cement and getting everything ready for the next volunteer group.
Asked what motivates him to be of service in his community, Colvin said:
“Since I was little my faith and family taught me the importance of loving and serving others. It’s always come easy for me to help others and I enjoy it. When I was young, my family received so much love and service while my mom was going through a medical trial. I always wanted to pay that same love and service forward. I believe where much is given, much is required, and I’ve been given so much that I want to give back.”
Runner-up: Noah Mann, Ben Lomond
2A Humanitarian of the Year
Will Sunderman, South Summit
South Summit’s football team did numerous service projects this past season, and Will Sunderman was always one of the first athletes to show up and help out.
At little league football games on Saturday, Sunderman was always there running the concessions stand and helping out with the chain gang. He’s always been willing to help out Joe Martin, a supporter of South Summit athletics, with off-campus projects like yard work, moving stuff in and out of his barn, etc..
As a member of the South Summit’s FBL, Sunderman helped clean up around the school during homecoming week.
During the summer, South Summit’s football team helped several families around Kamas by laying sod. One of the families insisted on paying, but the team only accepted if they agreed to donate to someone more in needed. They ended up using that money to present Ogden football Erik Thompson, who is battling ALS, with a $1,000 check when South Summit played Ogden this year
Asked what motivates him to be of service in his community, Sunderman said:
“My motivation is my teammates, coaches and members of the community that have been there for me no matter what. I owe it to my community and my teammates to be there for them and help out any way I can.”
Runner-up: Malik Judd, Judge Memorial
1A Humanitarian of the Year
JD Keyes, Monticello
JD Keyes has been actively involved in his community throughout his time in high school, but being a senior this school year his commitments have expanded in many different areas, and he goes about fulfilling them with a grateful smile on his face.
He serves on both the Hope Squad and San Juan Youth Coalition, two organizations dedicated to helping students’ mental health. He’s also a student body officer and co-runs the schools’ “Project 21 Angels” program, Monticello’s version of Sub for Santa.
“As a senior on the football team he also helps organize and participate in our service we do as a team. We spend significant time each season helping out our businesses in town. San Juan County being the poorest county in the state we are always grateful for the support our community gives. Because of this we spend a few whole days each year doing service for our community. As a senior JD helped organize and run it,” said Monticello coach Reed Anderson.
Asked what motivates him to be of service in his community, Keyes said:
“I owe a lot to my family, they have taught me everything I know. I truly believe that it is because of them, I have a desire to help people. As a kid who grew up loving superheroes, I put my mother and father in that category. They would do whatever it took. They taught me to love and care for my younger siblings, eventually that grew into helping anyone I could and truly love serving others.”
Runner-up: Pearson Judy, Gunnison Valley