Nick Cherico Honored With A Number Of Scholarship Awards At National Football Foundation, Central PA Chapter Banquet (03/28/18)

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The National Football Foundation, Central Pennsylvania Chapter, held its 21st Annual Banquet on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at the Penn Stater Conference Center. Former Penn State tight end Keith Olsommer was the featured guest speaker and an appearance by current Penn State football coach James Franklin kicked off the event.

(Photo by Luca Cherico) Nick Cherico, senior at Clarion Area High School, proudly displaying his three National Football Foundation awards alongside District 9 Coach of the Year, Coach Larry Wiser

Forty-six high school seniors from the center region were recognized as Scholar-Athletes during the event. Each school is asked to nominate one senior member of the football team for the honor.  The nomination packet includes a high school transcript, official test scores (SAT/ACT) and the nominee’s commitment to community service.  Scholarship winners were selected based on academic achievements, athletic achievements and extracurricular-community service and participation.

Locally from Clarion Area High School, senior Nick Cherico, who was nominated by Coach Larry Wiser, was awarded the National Football Foundation Central PA Chapter Scholar Athlete.  Nick is the son of Fred and Kim Cherico.

During the ceremony one of the scholar athletes is awarded the Joe Sarra Community Service Award every year at the annual banquet. Joe Sarra was a football coach for over 40 years. Mr. Sarra had a strong dedication to the communities he lived in and this award is set up in his honor. Nick Cherico was also the recipient of this award this year. Nick is an Eagle Scout from Clarion Troop 51 and has provided numerous local community services within his troop over his ten years as a scout. He recently volunteered over 150 hours for his Eagle Scout project where he was the lead in fundraising, researching, planning, designing and installing two historical interpretative panels in downtown Clarion.  He has volunteered for numerous projects as a member within several local area organizations.

Nick is a captain of the varsity football team, playing both sides of the ball, senior class president and student council president, member of the Science Olympiad team, member of choir, Clarion Singers, member and usher at Clarion Immaculate Conception Church. He volunteered to develop a web site for Clarion Suicide Awareness, has volunteered at UMPC Northwest Campus and provided services as a member of National Honor Society.  This along with his strong academic records and the receiving of several awards such as the Ben Carson Scholarship award, 2015 Gary Ross Lawrence Outstanding Sophomore Football Award, Ronald Reagan Student Leader Award and American Legion Patriotism Award, all played a part in receiving this NFF service award in honor of Coach Joe Sarra.

The four hour banquet ended with the presentation of the Central PA Chapter National Football Foundation Jack Bailey & J. Gawen Stoker Memorial Scholarship.  Coach Bailey contributed significantly to the coaching profession in leadership roles with the NFF, PSFCA and PIAA.  J. Gawen Stoker coached for 44 years and was a PA Hall of Fame inductee and founding father of the Central PA Football Coaches Association. Coach “Stokes” was a strong community supporter and believed in achieving excellence in all things and in building character, discipline and strength in our youth.   This year the Coaches Association awarded the scholarship to Nick Cherico in recognition of his outstanding achievements in academics, leadership and the sport of football.

It was a very emotional day for Nick and he had this to say about receiving all three National Football Foundation awards, “I truly am honored that I was nominated by Coach Wiser for this opportunity from the National Football Foundation and special thank you to all of the many businesses who sponsor the scholarships every year.

“Being involved in the Boy Scouts, I was always taught to do my good turn daily just as I was taught on the football field to always help my fellow teammate. The lessons that Coach Wiser has taught us on the football field have transcended to all avenues of my life including volunteering in the community. Your team is only as good as its weakest player and as coach likes to say it is ‘Team Not Me’ which for us players means that we put the team goals before our own goals. It’s important for us to use that same saying in our everyday life to make sure that every person – your family, your friend, your co-worker and your neighbor – is prepared in their life.

“I want to thank my family for their continued support and for being such positive influences in my life. It’s great to see over 40 other local football players that achieved their academic goals, a commitment to the sport, and finding time to go out to perform community service.  It is definitely a rewarding challenge.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to the board and thank them for recognizing me with three awards today. I am truly blessed and honored today.”

Nick plans to continue his education at Duquesne University in the fall majoring in Biology/Pre-Med.  As a high school senior, he has prequalified for the Early Acceptance Program at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine College where he will become a physician.

Head Coach Larry Wiser was also recognized at the event.  The Clarion Area Bobcat Football Varsity Team was a PIAA Division 2A State Quarterfinalist this year.  Congratulations to Coach Wiser and the entire team for such an incredible historic football season.

Coach Wiser had this to say about Nick’s awards, “I always look forward with excitement and trepidation to annual NFF Scholar Athlete Awards.  Excitement because Nick was so highly qualified and trepidation; because of the large number of quality nominees. The excitement started with Nick being awarded at the beginning of the awards the Joe Sarra Community Service and ending with CPFCA scholarship.

“To my knowledge, no scholar athlete has ever received this many awards.  I was very proud to be there with Nick and his family along with my wife Annie and son Ryan to share this special moment.  Nick Cherico represents the best values of a scholar athlete.”

(Editor’s note: There is not a more deserving person for these honors than Nick Cherico. The article above lists many reasons for this. Knowing Nick personally, I must say I have never met a more cordial and courteous young man than Nick. Since I first met Nick, maybe four or five years ago, I have never heard him address me as anything but Mr. McClaine. I have seen the love he has for his family, team and community on display many times over. Nick you make this community very proud. All the best at Duquesne, LECOM and in all your future endeavors!!!!)