*** An Award for Outstanding Student/Athletes ***
2010 8th Grade Taylor Clements
2012 4th Grade Jose Franco and 7th Grade Deyvon Morris
2013 7th Grade Austin Saiz
In Loving Memory of Ken Craig #77
The First Jaguar
In order for the Ken Craig Award/Scholarship to become a prestigious award, it is necessary to know who Ken Craig was, the teamwork and values that he inspired and what this Award should mean to the individual receiving it. It is much more than just an Award/Scholarship, it is a way of honoring an individual who has displayed those characteristics that emulate the way Ken lived his life every day. The recipient of this award should be the individual who possesses loyalty to the team, a solid work ethic, the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing when no one is looking, but most importantly the “heart” of a champion.
Ken was always competitive growing up. Even though Ken wasn’t the strongest or the fastest, and even though so many athletes were more talented, Ken possessed something that couldn’t be taught; heart. Ken’s drive and determination exemplified his heart, and because of that, his natural leadership inspired so many people around him throughout his life. He was one of those guys that you may not have noticed while he was here, but find it impossible to forget him now that he is gone. A passionate competitor, great student, wonderful son and brother, as well as a great teammate with a never say quit attitude.
Ken was the very first North Metro Jaguar. He was there at the inception of the idea to form the league, and he was the first to wear a NMJF Jaguar Jersey. Growing up Ken always wanted to be a quarterback, but God blessed him with a larger heart rather than quick feet. Ken quickly became a stellar lineman and always gave everything he had to the Jaguar team. Ken was once carried off the NMJF field by an ambulance because it was the only way we could get him to go to the hospital. Ken learned early in life that you never give up on teammates, friends, family, school or the game.
Ken loved the North Metro Jaguars and even helped win the first state championship by a NMJF team. Ken came back time and time again to help at mini-camps and to help younger kids with their technique. Ken was a ‘Jaguar’ first and always.
Upon entering high school, Ken played center on the freshman team. One game he was so beat up that the doctor put casts on both of his arms. Ken wore the casts for two days and then sawed them off by himself with a hacksaw so that he could go back to practice and play in an upcoming game. Ken also tore his ACL in his right knee and played the final game of his freshman season with a torn ACL. As a Junior Ken broke the starting lineup on the Thornton High School starting roster and played center on the varsity squad.
During one varsity game, Thornton found themselves down 30 points in the fourth quarter with only a few minutes to play. While the majority of the players were hanging their heads in defeat, feeling sorry for themselves, and all but giving up; Ken was there leading them on. He was running up and down the sidelines screaming and yelling to his teammates to get pumped up, telling them that they were still in the game and that they were going to win. Having a ‘never say quit’ attitude and possessing the belief to keep on fighting until the end, Ken was respected by everyone who was lucky enough to know and play along side him.
To this day The Ken Craig “Heart” Award is still given out at the varsity awards ceremony at THS. The North Metro Junior Football community will never forget #77 slapping his brother’s helmet after a good run, or his huge grin and a celebratory hug after a Jaguar win. So few people make a difference in this world after they are gone, but Ken seems to continue to inspire people everyday. Only a true leader could be able to do that.
Ken loved, laughed, fought, played and lived life with his whole heart. His ear to ear grin would light up a room. When he hugged you it always seemed as though you were the only one that mattered. Tragically, Ken lost his life on June 22, 2001. But his spirit, dedication and commitment to all that he attempted live on in the belief that you don’t have to be the strongest, fastest, or most talented…you must only have the “heart” of a champion.
The Ken Craig Award/Scholarship was started to honor Ken, but really it’s an award that is honoring the individual’s who receive it. To be listed as a recipient of the Ken Craig Award means you will try every day…every snap….and never give up on your team. Be a leader, dare to do the right thing and possess the conviction to believe in yourself, even when others might not.