Malverne High School student-athlete wins social media contest


Malverne High School senior football player Jovani Duran received a $2,000 scholarship from the LandTek Group for winning its “Terrific on Turf” social media competition last month. The group, which has built artificial-turf fields in school districts across the East Coast, started the competition last fall, asking players to submit their best plays that took place on the fields the company developed. Fans voted on the plays recorded by the three players who received the most likes and retweets on Twitter. Duran, who plays defensive end, received the most votes, 1,572.

“I believe it was a statement play that showed everyone watching where I place on Long Island,” said Duran, 18. “Seeing all of the likes and retweets for my video showed me how many people support me and how far I can really go into this competition.”

Duran submitted a play from Malverne’s season opener against Mineola High School, at which he sacked the quarterback late in the fourth quarter, helping to secure the Mules’ 26-12 victory. Malverne coach Kito Lockwood said that in all of Jovani’s years with the team, he always delivered whenever the Mules needed a big play.

“Since I’ve been coaching high school football, he’s been the best pass rusher that I’ve had,” Lockwood said. “At that point and time in the game, we needed to get a stop, and by no surprise, he got the sack. With his natural ability, speed and quickness, he has one of the quickest first steps that you’re going to see for a defensive lineman. He has a great motor.”

The LandTek Group, based in Amityville, started its social media competition last fall, in the hope of giving back to the student-athletes who play on its fields. The competition tallied over 100,000 “impressions.”

“The ‘Terrific on Turf’ campaign created an opportunity to provide a service for the next generation of leaders while also increasing awareness in that age group,” the company’s vice president of sales, John Nitti, said in a statement. “The $2,000 educational grant will go a long way in paying for college textbooks or some other academic assistance for our winner, Jovani Duran, from Malverne High School.”

Nitti added that the campaign was an extension of company president and founder Mike Ryan’s philanthropic approach to the community and support of charitable organizations such as the Marty Lyons Foundation, Promise of Hope, Mother’s Kiss and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Lockwood said that Duran has led by example since his freshman year. At the team’s end-of-the-year dinner on Dec. 6, the coach told his underclassmen that they should follow Duran’s example.

“From the classroom to his presence on the field, he’s been the best possible role model any student-athlete could ever wish for,” Lockwood said. “He’s the epitome of what we try to accomplish at our program.”

Lockwood acknowledged that Duran would be missed in the locker room next year, but he hoped to see him continue his success in college.

“Winning this competition and earning this scholarship . . . this is the first big competition I’ve ever won,” said Duran, who hopes to play college football. “That in itself is a confidence booster.”