Throughout the football season, the New York Giants and Hospital for Special Surgery select one high school football player each week from the tri-state area to receive the organization’s USA Football Heart of a Giant Award. Nominated by their coaches, these players exhibit character, determination and the commitment to better themselves and their teammates through hard work. In the newly released third set of 10 players, North Shore High School’s Max Marra was selected as one of the finalists.
Dan Agovino, NSHS’s football coach and dean of students in the Levittown School District, said Marra, who lives in Glen Cove, was the perfect choice for the award because of his fantastic work ethic and humble temperament. “He’s just a quiet, strong leader and a backbone of the team,” he said. “[Marra’s] somebody who’s not going to complain when he’s asked to do something that’s hard.”
Marra has been playing organized football since seventh grade, although he and his brother, Luca, had been throwing footballs in their backyard since childhood. Marra said football’s emphasis on camaraderie and teamwork is the reason he loves it so much. No one player can take over a game, he said, as all 11 players on the field need to do their jobs in order for the team to come out with a victory.
The vice president of NSHS’s senior class and a wide receiver and cornerback on the football team, Marra and his family are familiar with the Heart of a Giant award because Luca was a finalist last year.
Although they were both considered for the same honor, their mother Claudia said their attitudes toward the game could not be more different. While Luca, now a freshman at Hofstra, was very flashy on the field and always looking to make the big plays, Claudia said that Max shies away from the spotlight and lets his play do the talking.
“I don’t look for recognition, necessarily,” said Max, “but it’s definitely nice.”
Along with their excellence on the field, the brothers share another commonality that most people their age cannot, as their father died in 2009. Growing up without a father for most of their lives, Max and Luca overcame incredible adversity to become successful.
“I am elated that both my boys were chosen,” said Claudia, an English teacher at Finley Middle School in Glen Cove. “They both went through something horrific and from that moment on they shared a bond unlike any other. Neither of them ever used their father’s death as a crutch and they both turned their adversity into opportunity. I couldn’t be more proud of the men they have become and of all their accomplishments.”
Max said he uses his father’s passing as extra motivation, to show that he can succeed despite experiencing one of the hardest things a child could go through so early on in his life. He keeps everything together, he said, maintains a good work ethic and does everything he can to lead by example.
If he wins the award, Max would be honored on the field during a Giant’s home game at MetLife Stadium. Additionally, if Max wins North Shore High School would receive $10,000 for its football program. But the fact that he has been nominated has already secured $1,000 for the football program from the New York Giants and Hospital for Special Surgery.
After he graduates in June, Max said he wants to study environmental science in college since the health of the earth is another one of his passions. As for football, he is unsure of whether he wants to pursue it at the next level. He said for now he is content to work on his game and to continue to give back to his community.
Max will be providing a video submission on why he has the Heart of a Giant in order to be considered for the award. However, the community can also play a part by voting for Max at www.usafootball.com/hoagvote/#nominees.