Athlete's reward for doing right: wins prep Heisman

Blake Moore is not your typical high school athlete.

Sure, he is captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams at Ogden (Utah) High School. He is three-time Most Valuable Player in two sports at his high school. And, he was also recently named the winner of the 1997 Wendy's High School Heisman Award, given to the outstanding high school senior in the United States in academics, athletics and community service. He was chosen, along with the female winner, from 10,000 nonimees.But the 6-foot-6, slender, blond youth also takes time to read to 11-year-old Angela Richey, who has Cri du chat, a physical and developmental disability.

Angela's mom, Georgia, told the Church News: "She loves Blake. She adores him. When she sees him, she runs up to him and gives him high fives."

The 17-year-old, a priest in the Forest Green Ward, Ogden Utah Weber Heights Stake, gives much of his time to many who are needy. He volunteers at a homeless shelter and at a local hospital, serves as a district chairman for the American Cancer Society, contributes to Habitat for Humanity and is a March of Dimes peer tutor.

He also carries a 4.0 grade point average, has been academic all-state in football and basketball, and is an Eagle Scout.

Oh, and his heroes are his brothers and sister.

Early in December, accompanied by his parents, David and Leslie Moore, Blake traveled to New York City as one of 12 finalists - six boys and six girls - for the high school Heisman. The candidates had progressed from nominations, to state finals, then to national finals. On Dec. 12 at the Downtown Athletic Club, Dave Thomas, the well-known owner of Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers restaurants, announced the winners. Among those in attendance that evening were finalists for the 63rd annual College Heisman Trophy, which was awarded the next day.

Blake was so stunned when he heard his name he just dropped his head into his hands. "I was like, `No Way!" he related. His mother started hugging him and jumping up and down, and his father whispered, "I'm proud of you."

The young Latter-day Saint stepped to the podium and accepted a crystal trophy on which his name was etched in gold. He told the Church News during a telephone interview he will display the trophy in his home throughout his life to teach other youth "you're rewarded and blessed for doing what you think is right."

He added that he feels an obligation to live up the reputation of the high school Heisman, "to keep a good name for them and show that they picked a good person who is respected. I wouldn't want to do anything to dishonor the high school Heisman."

The high school Heisman program was created through a partnership among Wendy's, the Downtown Athletic Club, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the nation's largest school leadership organization.

Blake was surprised when he was even nominated for the award last spring. A counselor at Ogden High, Jeanne Hall, first learned of his good example while counseling a troubled young woman. In recalling this conversation, Sister Hall, who is LDS, related: "I said, `Surely there have to be some kids at Ogden High who stand up for their values and who choose to be in right places.'

"She gave Blake's name."

Sister Hall, who is scholarship chairman at the school, had received the Wendy's nomination form and immediately began considering Blake, who serves this school year as senior class vice president. She soon learned of his academic and athletic excellence and service to the community.

With the agreement of Principal Larry Latham, Sister Hall called Blake in to her office and told him of the nomination. She also told him of his example to a troubled teenager, who has since made positive progress.

"It kind of opened my eyes a little bit," Blake related. "It showed me that people were watching me and my friends and how we acted. It showed me that I need to be a role model and set an example for people."

Blake grew up in a home full of role models. Brothers Brad, now 27, and Brian, 26, both served full-time missions and married in the temple. Another brother, Brent, and sister, Julie, are currently serving missions.

According to Blake and his mother, the family lives gospel standards because they live in the "Sorry House."

At least that's what his big brother, Brad, once called their home when reminded he couldn't date until he was 16. And the title has stuck. In fact, in their front window hangs a wooden sign bearing the inscription, "The Sorry House."

From the time Blake was a young boy that sign was a reminder to him that he didn't date until he was 16 - even if the head cheerleader "asked you out." He also doesn't practice basketball on the Sabbath and he's preparing to serve a full-time mission.

"I always looked up to and patterned my life after my brothers and sister and the example they set for me," Blake said. He recalled playing one-on-one in basketball with his brothers and sister when he was younger. His mother called the relationship between her children a "healthy rivalry," in that a younger sibling would see the accomplishments of an older brother or sister and think, "I can do that."

One of Blake's most poignant memories happened when he was about 7 years old. His brother Brad was playing a high school basketball game with the family watching. "He was shooting the lights out," Blake recalled, meaning his brother was shooting well. "During halftime, he was warming up. He came running by me, and gave me a high five and gave me a big hug. I still remember it to this day."

He also remembers times that Brian would come home and take him bowling. "I was scared my parents would find out and get mad." But he later learned his mother was in on it and pretended she didn't notice.

Sister Julie took him to University of Utah football games, along with her "college friends. She kind of took me under her wing."

As to Brent, he was a senior when Blake was a freshman. "He'd always talk to me in the halls. He didn't care about being cool. He was nice to his little brother."

For all the fun the Moore family has, they take gospel living seriously. When Sister Moore learned the high school Heisman officials were sending a film crew to film Blake in November 1997, she wondered how they would react to a Mormon household. She said she thought, "If they want to see his bedroom, they're going to see the Book of Mormon on the shelf and the Church posters on the wall."

One poster aptly describes Blake: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

For being part of a "sorry family," Blake has learned that being nice and living gospel standards leads to "nice" things - including a Heisman trophy.

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