Cayden Porter, a defensive lineman on the St. Joseph High football team, has been nominated for the USA Football’s Heart of a Giant Award.

The award recognizes and rewards Tri-State area high school football players, who have demonstrated an unparalleled work ethic and passion for the game.

Here is his story: and the voting link is

https://www2.usafootball.com/poll_management/userpoll/20.

Q: Choose one of the criteria listed below this field that defines having the “Heart of a Giant” and explain how it applies to you.

A:I am dedicated with everything I do. However, this has not always been the case. When I was younger I was never motivated to do anything. In sixth grade, during Pee-Wee football, I was under a new coach for that season. Coach Mike, as we called him, showed us a different path. He basically told me it was all about mindset. He would tell me if I continued thinking the way I was thinking, whether it be positive or negative, I would continue to act the way I was thinking. But, if I changed the way I thought about the goal, my actions would change as well. This has stuck with me since. Gradually I realized if I changed my mindset when approaching a new goal or obstacle, the thoughts alone would positively influence the outcome regardless if I achieved the objective. This mindset for me has always been dedication. If I dedicate my time, commitment, and energy towards a goal, I know the outcome will be in my favor. Dedication has morphed over the years into passion towards positive thinking and positive influence on the people around me, on my team, and in my classroom. Ever since Coach Mike influenced me to change my mindset, I have learned that dedication to all things I pursue is the key to my success.

Q: Tell us about a time you faced adversity in your life and how playing football helped you overcome such adversity.

A: Tenth grade was a difficult year for me. My biological father who hadn’t been in my life for most of it was starting to reconnect with me. I was overjoyed. This was until I called him one day in February. My sister answered, sobbing, and informed me that our father had just been sentenced to jail for stealing five million dollars. I felt blindsided. It took a while to find out that he had just been sentenced to ten years in prison with a seven years minimum. I was upset, ashamed, and mad that this was how I found out my father’s life just changed significantly. If it wasn’t for the football workouts or the pass rush practicing at the local field, I would have never escaped the events occurring with my father. That was not the only event to happen last year. My step father, Scott, who had been there for me since I was two, was diagnosed with three different types of lymphoma cancer. It was spread all throughout his body. Normal cancer treatment won’t work for him, so he has to undergo extensive clinical trials. My mother and Scott now became heavily involved with different doctors, trying to figure out how to save Scott’s life. Football, and the family atmosphere it provides, became the structure that would get me through the darkest time of my life. I love practice, because it is two hours away from everything else, with friends, and for a worthwhile goal. Scott can’t come to the games because he receives treatment on the weekends, but when he comes on Sunday nights as asks me how the game went, I thank God he is still here as we watch the film and relive the play by play action together.

Q: What do you enjoy most about playing football?

I love practice, even though I despise running. Being a lineman means we get to grind the hardest during practice and I love it. We can trash talk each other for fun and hit each other as hard as we can without it meaning anything off the field. I also love being around my friends for two hours everyday. It takes the sting out of all bumps and bruises that accumulate during the season. Winning games and leading the defense to shut outs are great as well, but the everyday battle during practice with my best friends is where I enjoy football the most.

Q: Tell us about how you spend your time off the field or what you enjoy doing when not playing football?

A: On a Saturday night after the game you can find me around the fire pit in my backyard. With my buddies Mike, Pags, Will, and Tyler. Whether that be at the beginning of the night or at the very end, somehow we always end up together at the fire pit. We are always together during the off season we go up to Vermont sometimes and and ski or just hang out up there. Finally I would like to say a little about my football family. We are known as the hogs, we are so close that I view all of us as one family. From coaches to my best friends to the incoming freshman there is nothing quite like what we have here. Also I would like to thank coach DellaVecchia for nominating me for this it truly means a lot.