Freeport senior earns 1st Army Iron Man title
By Christine June, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion – Harrisburg A&PA
FREEPORT AREA SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, SARVER, PA—Freeport Yellow Jackets’ Wide Receiver Derek Durand has the bragging rights as the first U.S. Army Iron Man of the Year, and he has the championship-quality ring to prove it.
“It’s unbelievable. I didn’t expect it to be this elaborate. It looks like a Super Bowl ring,” said Durand, after he was presented the Army Iron Man ring May 31 during his school’s end-of-year award ceremony.
This was the first football season that the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion – Harrisburg held a 10-week campaign to recognize the best two-way high school football player in Pennsylvania.
“Playing and excelling on both offense and defense, the Army Iron Man must demonstrate physical and emotional strength, as well as strength of character,” said Mike Sinnott, from The Sports Flash Radio Network, which were the cosponsors of the campaign.
In the 2010 season, Durand had a team-high 33 receptions for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns while making 81 tackles on defense with nine passes defended and a forced fumble.
High school football fans across the state voted for the winner of the Army Iron Man of the Week on http://www.thesportsflash.com/ At the end of the regular season, fans elected Durand as the 2010 Army Iron Man of the Year among the 10 weekly winners.
“Voting got pretty intense in school,” Durand said. “My computer teacher one day said, ‘Okay, everyone log on and vote for Derek.’ We all logged on, and they were all yelling, ‘You’re winning…oh no…you’re losing.’ We were all pretty excited.”
All the recruiters at the Butler Recruiting Station not only voted but also rallied the community to cast their votes for Durand, said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Jones, a reserve recruiter from the station, who presented the ring to Durand.
“The Army Iron Man weekly competition shows the Army’s commitment to the local schools and students by taking an active interest in promoting good life choices,” Jones said.
More than 55,000 votes were cast for the Army Iron Man of the Year for Pennsylvania with Durand receiving 17,466 votes to beat Springdale’s Chris Liberto, who had 14,759 votes.
“It’s just fabulous,” said Derek’s Father Todd Durand. “It’s a great honor, and for him to have something like this and to have it presented by the Army and everything they do for our country – it’s just a great experience.”
Both of Durand’s parents attended the ceremony.
“I think it’s nice that the Army is always giving back,” said Derek’s Mother Mindy Durand. “The ring is just gorgeous and to have him get that ring in front of his peers and the community – it was nice to see that.”
Sinnott said that the Jostens, Inc, the legendary jeweler of championship rings worn by the greatest athletes in the world, worked with the U.S. Army to design a unique, one-of-a-kind ring for the Army Iron Man of the Year.
Durand also received two tickets to a Pittsburgh Steelers home game and was recognized on the video board at Heinz Field. A profile of him as the Army Iron Man of the Year will also appear on the Steelers Youth Football TV Show.
The Army Iron Man of the Year was part of the battalion’s 2010 Army STRONG Tour, which includes the Pennsylvania Passing League; Army Football Coach of the Year; the Army STRONG Wrestler and Wrestling Coach of the Year, and the Army Rivalry Tour.