St. Rita Senior Max Kurucar Named Recipient of the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award

St. Rita of Cascia High School senior Max Kurucar (Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School) was recently named one of three recipients in the Chicago area for the National Football Foundation (NFF) Scholar-Athlete Award.

Christopher P. Kearney, NFF - Chicago Metro Chapter, Board of Directors, Volunteer President, notified Max of this very prestigious honor, with which he will receive a college tuition scholarship of $8,000 to the college of his choice.  Todd Kuska, Head Coach of St. Rita’s Varsity Football Team, nominated Max for this award and each scholarship nomination was reviewed by Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune’s lead college football sportswriter.

Max and the other NFF Scholar-Athlete Award recipients will be honored at a special ceremony at Halas Hall on Monday, February 20, 2012.  Jeff Joniak, the Voice of the Chicago Bears, will be the Master of Ceremonies that evening and both current and former NFL and college football players will be in attendance along with many other special guests.  During the award ceremony, Coach Kuska will have the privilege of introducing Max.

"We are all extremely proud of Max, for the hard work on the football field as an athlete, but more importantly for the hard work both in the classroom and in the community.  Max is a true example of what we call a Ritaman." said Coach Kuska.

Max currently ranks in the top 10% of his class, is a Gold Honor Roll student with a 4.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.  He is member of the St. Rita Chapter of the National Honor Society and an Illinois State Scholar.  In addition to playing on the Varsity football team all four years at St. Rita, Max was also a member of the Mustang baseball team for two years. At St. Rita, Max is a senior member of Student Government, is a peer tutor and freshman mentor.  Max was also named St. Rita’s Mustang of the Month in April 2011.

As Cornerback and Punter, Max was a two year starter on teams that have made it to at least the state semi-finals, being a key member of the 2009 State Champions, 2010 Conference Champions and State Semifinalists.   For the 2011 season, Max was also First Team All-Conference in the Chicago Catholic League as both Punter and Cornerback and First Team Academic All-State. He led the team in interceptions and averaged 36 yards per punt – the longest being 61 yards.

In the community, Max is also a Peacebuilders Initiative volunteer through the Chicago Theological Union, a Little Brothers and Friends of the Elderly volunteer, a volunteer at the PADS Homeless Shelter and a local soup kitchen volunteer through his parish, St. Germaine.  Max also is a volunteer coach for the Oak Forest Park District and is an umpire for Oak Lawn Baseball, where is also trains new umpires.

“We are incredibly proud of Max, who epitomizes the excellence we strive for in academics and athletics, and who is a highly respected leader in the school.” said St. Rita Principal Mr. Brendan Conroy.

St. Rita President Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A. added, “I am so happy the NFF has recognized what we already know at St. Rita about Max. He is a wonderful young man who excels in the classroom, on the field and in his extra-curricular activities. He is a true Ritaman! ”