Weeks before Marcus Mariota led the Oregon Ducks to the national championship game, he won the prestigious Heisman Trophy. Mariota became the first Hawaii native to win the award.
But he wasn’t the first winner of the weekend. Nolan Henry from Washington claimed the 21st Wendy’s High School Heisman award the previous day.
At a ceremony in New York in December, Henry received the 2014 High School Heisman for his impressive accomplishments in the classroom, achievement on the football field, and service in his community.
“Two guys from the northwest won a Heisman in one weekend and it’s a pretty big deal in the region,” Henry says. “It was a great experience to be a part of and such a great honor to be selected from 12 amazing finalists.”
High School Superstar
At Union High School in Camas, Washington, Henry is an AP scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. He also received the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association Scholar Athlete Award three years in a row and was named Mr. Union in 2014.
As an athlete, he has competed in baseball as well as in track and field. But much like Mariota, Henry excels most under center.
He leads the Union Titans as quarterback and a team captain. He’s the third-ranked QB in the state of Washington and a top prospect for the class of 2015. Henry is a three-time All-Conference and All-District Award winner. He received the Titan Attitude Award recipient – the team’s highest individual honor – twice. He holds six school records, including highest completion percentage and most pass completions.
Henry says winning the Heisman was even more special because he could share it with another quarterback. And following the awards ceremony, Henry was able to meet the Ducks QB and spend time with the entire Mariota family.
“It was so cool to see how much the experience meant to them and the community,” Henry says. “I definitely felt that Marcus wanted to be the inspirational catalyst for Polynesian kids and really all kids in general. He’s very selfless and gave all the credit to his community that has done so much for him.”
A Role Model Off the Field
Like Mariota, Henry is having an impact in his community, too. And he found perfect role models in his family.
Decades ago, after the Cuban revolution began, Henry’s great-grandparents emigrated from Cuba. They were so thankful to live in the United States and have so many new freedoms, that they decided to give back to the country that had given them so much. His great-grandparents’ example has inspired him to serve and give back to his community.
Now, Henry mentors younger student athletes at the Union Scholar Athlete Club. He founded the group to help promote academic achievement, school spirit, and mentorship. As the president of the Clark County Titan’s Youth Foundation, he serves as the director of a food drive that has become the second largest one-day food drive in the region. He even raised more than $25,000 for PeaceHealth Southwest for the construction of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
His good work doesn’t stop there. Henry also makes time to help people thousands of miles away from his hometown. He’s the president of KWAPA, a club that provides aid to widows and orphans in Kamara Town, Liberia. In 2013, he personally raised $26,000 and led 14 students to the African nation to build a community sports court and help the Liberian people develop a sustainable poultry and pig farm.
Henry is already thinking of ways to use his $10,000 Wendy’s donation to improve his high school.
As signing day approaches, Henry will make a decision about what college to attend. It will come down to making sure it’s the right athletic and academic fit. (Notre Dame has already accepted him for academics.) Butt he most important quality in his college of choice?
“I want to find a place where I can continue to impact the community as well,” he says.
Photos: Thomas Boyd (football), Simon Russell/Getty Images for Wendy’s (Heisman)