Max Friedman '19 and his father Jeff recently returned from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta where Max was honored as the 2020 male high school recipient of The Coach (John) Wooden Citizenship Cup Award. The award is given each year to those athletes who have demonstrated the greatest level of character and leadership on and off the field, and for their contributions to sport and society. The award is the most prestigious given in sports because it is open to all athletes in all sports, and because it is not for athletic superiority, but for those athletes who achieve the highest standards of character, leadership, and citizenship.
Max is a terrific young man with a tremendous heart and soul. His parents feel he had the good fortune of having countless experiences and exposures which fostered his kindness, generosity, and perspective, and certainly many of those happened through Gerstell. In the most quintessential example, Max was given the voluntary task of reading and reflecting on Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success: 12 Lessons for Extraordinary Performance and Personal Excellence as part of the Gerstell Founder’s Summer Challenge. It is amazing to think how a book leaves such an indelible impression on a child who then integrates those lessons into his own life and ultimately goes on to win the award named for the author by embodying and exemplifying those same values. Mr. and Mrs. Friedman thank Dr. Smith and the Gerstell faculty who helped shape Max’s outlook, inspired him, and helped him to work to reach his full potential - we know he is just beginning to make his mark, but he’s off to a pretty good start.
This journey to success began when Max was offered the chance to apply as Gerstell’s candidate for the MSADA & NIAAA State Scholarship when he was a senior. Max won the Maryland level scholarship, then won the Regional NIAAA Section scholarship, and ultimately his application went on to compete against the other seven section winners in the country when at the end of summer 2019, we received word that Max won the NIAAA National Scholarship for Male Student-Athlete in the country, apparently competing in full against 20,000 other candidates from start to finish. In December 2019, Max received the National award at the Gaylord Resort at the National Harbor during the National Athletic Director’s Conference held by the NIAAA. These achievements were remarkable and Max received college scholarships from each of these competitions that he used towards his tuition at Emory University where he is studying as a chemistry major.
The icing on the cake was subsequently receiving The Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup Award. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Mia Hamm, and Cal Ripken, Jr. are just a few of the distinguished professional athletes who have won this award in the past. It was such an honor for Max to stand on the stage and accept this award, and he did so with great humility and humbleness, as you would expect. What an amazing journey! Max was honored with other student-athletes, along with Rodrigo Blankenship from the Indianapolis Colts/University of Georgia, and Danny Wuerffel, Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida who also played in the NFL.
This summer, Max will be working in the lab at Novavax on the COVID-19 vaccine as an Analytical Development Intern, continuing to direct his focus towards helping improve the health and lives of others.