By Jay Skurskiemail@example.com
It’s like the Stanley Cup of North Tonawanda, only it has nothing to do with hockey.
Though it lacks an official name, the silver trophy handed out to a different Lumberjacks player following each practice during T-NT week has become a source of pride for the team. Not much of anything concrete is known about the trophy, but one thing is certain: it’s old.
Inscribed with the message, “for the purpose of promoting athletic spirit, this football trophy is presented by Frank Alliger and L.R. Vandervoort to the winner of a series of three games between Tonawanda High School and North Tonawanda High School, according to the rules set forth in deed or gift.”
The trophy is also inscribed with three scores: 1909 — Tonawanda 5, North Tonawanda 0, 1910 — North Tonawanda 6, Tonawanda 0, 1911 — North Tonawanda 27, Tonawanda 11.
The Lumberjacks took possession of the trophy, but what happened after that is a mystery. It wasn’t until the 2000 season that former assistant coach Brad Dietsch found the trophy, supposedly in the basement of the high school, that it became a part of T-NT week. It’s unclear how long the trophy was missing.
“It was gone for a long time,” NT coach Eric Jantzi said.
Since 2000, though, the trophy has been as much a part of T-NT week as a pep rally. Lumberjacks assistant coaches take turns awarding the trophy to the player they feel has shown hard work and dedication to the team. That player then takes the trophy home — often polishes it — and carries it with him to each of his classes the following day.
Following Monday’s practice, assistant coach Chris Cook awarded the trophy to senior running back Ryan Hawkins, who has bounced back from a torn ACL he suffered in the final game of 2006.
“The hard work he did in the offseason, the leadership, and especially coming back from that injury,” Cook said, explaining why he chose Hawkins. “What he went through, seeing him every day in the weight room ... it was awesome.”
Members of the Lumberjacks took turns reading the trophy as it sat near Hawkins in the weight room following practice.
“It’s an honor to carry it,” Hawkins said. “It’s something that you strive for.”
As a junior, Hawkins watched some of the seniors carry the trophy leading up to the game. It became a goal to strive for during his senior year.
“Hopefully, the young guys are looking up to me and they’ll strive for it next year,” he said.
Jantzi said after T-NT the trophy will be displayed at the NT Football Hall of Fame for the entire year. That is, if the Lumberjacks win. In the case of a loss, the trophy goes away for the year.
Contact editor Jay Skurski at 693-1000, ext. 117.