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Hackettstown HS football player named finalist for ‘Heart of a Giant’ award

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Following a rigorous voting campaign, Hackettstown High School senior Josh Konya has been named a finalist for the USA Football “Heart of a Giant” award, presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants

Josh was nominated by his coaches for “commitment, character, teamwork, dedication and will.”

There are six weekly finalists and five wild-card finalists, leading to 11 total honorees. Each finalist will receive $1,000 equipment grant for their school.

Finalists submit a video to be reviewed for the final round of voting. USA Football, Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants will review all video submissions and select 1 winner for the Heart of a Giant award to win an additional $9,000 equipment grant and trophy. The Grand Prize Winner will also receive 3 tickets and
his/her head football coach will receive 1 ticket to attend the New York Giants’ home football game at which the
grand prize winner will be recognized.

The grand prize winner will be announced no later than Jan. 7, 2024.

Here is what Josh Konya told USA Football:

Which Heart of a Giant characteristic do you embody most?


Please elaborate on why you chose this I chose this characteristic and provide an example of a time when you embodied the characteristic selected above

I chose this characteristic because I’m always supporting my teammates no matter what the situation is on and off the field. The time I embodied this characteristic was when my teammate got hurt with a bad injury in the biggest game of the season and I tried to console him after he was told the bad news that he was out for the season.

How did you first get involved in football?

first got involved in football during my sophomore year of high school when I transferred from another school and I was having trouble getting myself to school. Then, I was invited by the Athletic Director, Bobby Grauso and former coach CJ Robinson (who I both owe a lot to) to be a manager for the football team and have been with the team since.

Amount of adversity you’ve faced growing up

A Lot

Please elaborate on the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome.

The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome was my autism. Having autism is the hardest thing I’ve had to go through in my life because it affects me every single day. Although I don’t have it as bad as other kids, it’s still a challenge for me in my life. I actually had to stop and regain my composure because I started tearing up just writing about this. Some of the problems I face are missing social cues, transitioning from one situation to another, and being socially awkward. Another obstacle I’ve had to face was the COVID lockdown. Being locked down only intensified all of those things and it made everything worse.

How has football helped you get through said obstacles?

Football has helped me get through the obstacles I faced because it got me back into school and I had something to look forward to at the end of the day or week whether it was practice or a game. Football distracts me from all of my worries and I feel like I can be myself there.

How do you demonstrate leadership in football? (both on and off the field)

I demonstrate leadership in football both on and off the field by motivating them and encouraging a good teammate. I also try to lead by example by showing respect to myself and others.

How do you demonstrate leadership in your community?

I demonstrate leadership in my community by always being kind and respectful to everyone and helping others whenever I can. I try to set good examples every day.

How do you demonstrate leadership in the classroom?

I demonstrate leadership in the classroom by always being respectful to my classmates and teachers. In addition, I always keep my grades up and do the best I can on every assignment.

Academic Achievements:

An academic achievement I have is being inducted into the National Honor Society my junior year

Athletic Achievements:

An athletic achievement I have is lettering in both my sophomore and junior years in football, basketball, and baseball by being a statistician.

What other personal accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?

A personal accomplishment I am most proud of is being a color analyst with my dad for Morris Sussex Sports which is a high school sports broadcasting company in northern New Jersey. Doing games with my dad is some of the most fun I’ve had and it’s something I strive to do in the future. Another personal accomplishment I have is how far I’ve overcome my autism over the years.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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