When Jared Kaiman, the quarterback, had to go to the sidelines for an ACL injury in Great Neck North’s homecoming game against Jericho, the mood immediately changed. His team sensed something was wrong. But Kaiman couldn’t have that.
He walked, he jogged, he squatted, he jumped. Eventually, he returned to the field, until a torn meniscus sent him down.
Both teams and the crowd went silent as Kaiman was carried away.
From the emergency room, Kaiman kept up with the play-by-play, and begged the doctors and his parents to let him come back to the game with a brace and crutches. They ultimately let him back to the sidelines with a few minutes left in the game.
“When I came back, it was one of the best moments of my high school career,” Kaiman said.
Kaiman got a hero’s welcome, with crowds in the stands applauding and his team re-energized. From there he counseled the back-up quarterback and helped coaches call plays. The team, which had recovered from a 20-point deficit, scored the game-winning touchdown in the last minute.
“It wasn’t just about me,” Kaiman said. “It was about how I helped my teammates and the back-up quarterback.”
It was this event that helped earn Kaiman the Andrew Stergiopoulos Award, which aims to commemorate the qualities the award’s namesake embodied: “leadership, achievement, sportsmanship, diligence, empathy and vision,” according to a news release.
The $750 scholarship came from the Andrew Stergiopoulos Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation preserving Stergiopoulos’ memory. The award has been given out at Great Neck North High School since 2002.
Stergiopoulos played hockey, football and lacrosse while at Great Neck North High School, captaining each team, setting records and leading by example. Stergiopoulos ultimately lost his life at the World Trade Center in 2001.
Kaiman, meanwhile, played football as quarterback and baseball as a pitcher for four years. He also played basketball as a freshman and sophomore.
“It was very surreal because I’ve heard so much about the Stergiopouloses and what they’ve done for the community and what Andrew did when he was younger,” Kaiman said. “It just resonated with me personally.”
“He was just a very outgoing, fun, nice and caring guy, but at the same time he did his work and he was a leader,” Kaiman added. “The leadership part is the most important part because it’s very hard to come by.”
Kaiman said he will definitely carry the lessons of his coach with him.
“Preserverence, and to just never give up, even in the toughest of times,” Kaiman said.
Kaiman will attend Syracuse University and study at the College of Arts and Sciences. While his decision is not final, Kaiman said he wants to “go down the path of politics and business” like his parents did and stay active in sports.
His father, Jon Kaiman, was the town supervisor of North Hempstead. Kim Kaiman, his mother, directed the Town of North Hempstead’s Business and Tourism Development Corp.