Friday, September 18, 2020
Sept. 18, 2020

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Union’s Nolan Henry wins High School Heisman award

By , Columbian High School Sports Reporter

Nolan Henry was in middle school when he and his family stopped at a Wendy’s restaurant and noticed a poster for the High School Heisman award.

Nolan’s father, Darin, saw his son looking at the display.

“You gotta win that some day,” Darin said.

“OK,” Nolan replied.

Some day became Friday — his birthday.

Nolan Henry, a senior from Union High School, was named the Wendy’s High School Heisman boys award winner at a ceremony in New York City as part of Heisman Week.

“It was a ‘No Way!’ moment,” Henry said when hearing his name announced at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. “The group of kids was amazing. Getting to know them, learning about their stories, it was so cool. I think any one of us could have won. When I won, I was shocked. I don’t know if there is a better word for it.”

Henry sent a message and a picture on social media of himself with the trophy:

“Just won the Wendy’s High School Heisman! Could not be here without the support of so many people. Love you all,” Henry posted on Twitter.

There was a reception following Friday’s ceremony, plus still plenty left on the weekend itinerary.

“Oh my goodness, this has been amazing,” Henry said after getting back to his hotel after midnight in New York. “And it’s just getting started.”

Henry and the other finalists — Lauren Van Vlierbergen of Algonquin, Ill., was the girls winner — will be special guests at the college football Heisman Trophy presentation. Henry said he believes he will be sitting one or two rows behind Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

“It’s the craziest thing,” he said.

Henry and Van Vlierbergen will be showcased during ESPN’s telecast. Friday’s high school ceremony can be seen on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Wendy’s High School Heisman recognizes a student’s athletic accomplishments as well as celebrates the person’s academic achievements and community leadership. Henry won the high school Heisman trophy as well as a $500 gift card to Wendy’s restaurants. Union High School will receive a $10,000 donation from Wendy’s.

Henry was a three-year starting quarterback for the Titans, helping Union make the playoffs every season.

Henry organized a successful food drive every year through Clark County Youth Football, with the proceeds benefitting the Clark County Food Bank. He also raised more than $21,000 last year for a trip to Africa to help a poultry farm and build a sports court for a school.

Henry wrote a speech but did not take any notes with him to the stage after he won.

He said he researched the inspiring story of Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas and is proud to be associated with the award.

“I’m just so honored to be a new member of the High School Heisman fraternity,” Henry said.

He met several of the past winners and learned what it meant to them.

“It’s a huge responsibility for me to carry this on and make sure it continues to grow,” Henry said.

The winners were involved in photo shoots after the ceremony and the reception lasted a couple of hours.

“We stayed at the Best Buy Theater until they kicked us out,” Henry said. “We would have talked all night. A special group of people.”

The finalists have another long day planned Saturday, including an ice skating trip at Rockefeller Center and a visit to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular. Then, of course, the Heisman Trophy presentation.

“I’m just so appreciative for everyone who has done so much for me in our community,” Henry said. “It’s been a great experience. I’ll never forget it.”