Q. What does the award consist of?
A. You will receive a packet consisting of a certificate with the player's name on it, signed by General James Shelton, Honorary Colonel of the Black Lions; a Black Lions regimental patch; a brief writeup of the award which you can use, if you wish, as your script in presenting the award; and a press release for your local news media.

Q. How do I enroll my team?

A. E-mail particulars to - include the name of the team or school, and the name, mailing address and e-mail address of the person who will be serving as your team's contact (preferably, but not necessarily, the head coach)
For example: East End Falcons - Staten Island, New York - Vince Wilson - 555 East 14th St, Staten Island, NY 15055 -
Q. What do I have to do from there?
A. You need to inform your team about the Award and what it stands for, and what you'll be looking for. Then, at the end of the season, you need to select your winner, and send his name, along with a letter of nomination, to

Q. Can I e-mail my letter of nomination or do I have to mail it?

A. Please E-Mail it.  A Word .doc or .docx file is great.  We do need to be able to edit it for possible publication.

Q. How elaborate does the letter have to be?

A. More than just a sentence or two ("Timmy is a great kid. He is very deserving" isn't enough.) Explain why your nominee represents the spirit of the award - leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and an unselfish concern for the team. Give examples and be specific, but please leave out details that you might not want others to read ("his parents are both drunks") because the letters will be shared with the Black Lions (28th Infantry Association) and with members of Major Holleder's family. We heel it is not asking too much of a coach in order to bring a prestigious honor to one of his players. (For a representative sampling of other coaches' letters, go HERE)

Q. Is the award meant to go to the best player?

No. Talent or skill or statistics are not mentioned anywhere in the award criteria. (But that doesn't mean that it shouldn't go to your best player!)

Q. Could it go to someone who never plays at all?

A. Very doubtful, unless we're talking about an injured starter. "Leadership" is the first of the Black Lion Award criteria, and - except for the case of a player's inability to play due to an injury - it is normally necessary to be a player in order to be a leader, to be one that the other players look up to and respond to.  The Black Lion Award definitely is not meant to be a "consolation" prize, to go to a player who couldn’t win any other award. It is NOT a "hardest worker" or "Most Improved", "Best Citizen" or "Best Student" award,  either,  although your winner certainly could be all of those things. It is NOT designed to be a "feel good" award for a youngster who surprised everybody by even making it through all the drills or coming to all the practices, or one who never complained even though he never got to play. But the Black Lion Award is not intended to be a "Most Valuable Player" award, either, (although your MVP could also be your winner if he fits the criteria of the award).  It is quite possible that the recipient could be a guard, or a center, or a defensive linemen. Wherever he plays, though, whatever his role may be, he is "that football player who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder: leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and a demonstrated concern for his team ahead of himself."

Q. How long does it take to get the award?

A. Your award packet will be mailed to you as soon as possible after your letter of nomination is received, but if timing is important, you should allow us a couple of weeks minimum because there is not enough money in the budget for overnight shipment.

Q. Can we have the award mailed directly to our winner?

A. No. We send the award packet to the coach or administrator in the belief that the Black Lion Award should be awarded - and its recipient honored - in a public ceremony.

Q. I need to know if I can get the award by the 24th of October.

A. We do work on a high school schedule, and since most high schools are still playing in mid-October, the awards are not normally ready to be sent out until mid-November.

Q. I hope I understand this correctly.  It's not just one person in the country that gets the award, right?  It's one person from any school that puts in a nomination, right?  Let me know if I am not correct, please.

A. It is one person from each team, and we must receive a letter of nomination from his coach, explaining why this player fits the criteria of the award : leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and an unselfish devotion to the team. Notice that talent or stats have nothing to do with it. We would like someday to be able to give out Black Lion Awards to 1,000 different players on 1,000 different teams. By the way,  a high school with three teams – varsity, junior varsity and freshman – can present three Black Lion Awards, and a youth program with several teams can present an award for each of its teams.

Q. We have two players on our team who are both deserving...

A. Unfortunately, the stipulation of the award is that it will go to “that (one) player who...”  The fear of our board is that very soon, if left uncontrolled, the Black Lion Award could go the way of the lone high school valedictorian. The decision to select only one was unanimous.  I have often been blessed with a group of kids from which I could easily have select two or three. Or more.  But you can select only one. 

Q. Can our basketball team nominate a player?
A. The Black Lion Award is available to football programs only.

Q. I am leaning toward letting our team choose the recipient

A. I think that would be a big mistake. Popularity is what wins most elections among kids, and this award is not about popularity. Nor is it about athletic ability. It is about things that the other kids don't always have the maturity to see or appreciate. In fact, it is possible that the leader – the one who inspires the others to do better – is not necessarily liked by his teammates! The beauty of this award is that it allows coaches to use their mature judgment and recognize kids for the things coaches see that kids aren't always wise enough to see.

Q. I'm having some issues here. This award should go to the most deserving player on the team. The problem is, he's my son. Parents and players would really get a perception, real or not, that I'm way out of line. Fifth and sixth grade parents are a different breed. Got any advice?

A. I know you're in a spot, but it's your son and you have to be honest and fair to him.  I think the main issue is validating your choice. Maybe in this unusual case you could consider having the kids - and coaches, too, of course - vote for it. But one way or another, if your son is the most deserving, I don't think he should be deprived of it simply because his dad is the coach.

Q. How is the award funded? Do you need additional funding for it? Can I help in any way?

Up to this point, the award has been funded by the 28th Infantry Association (think of it as an alumni group), by a Black Lion who chooses to remain anonymous, and by graduates of the United States Military Academy.  I donate the labor as my way of trying to repay people I can never fully repay. Your offer is most kind, and perhaps at some point we may need help, but frankly, I am not savvy enough tax-wise to know how I would handle donations. (I might add that one of the concerns of the Black Lions and of Major Holleder's family when the idea of the award was submitted to them for their approval was that it would never be tinged by commercialism.)

Q. Where should I have my player send his thank-you letter?

A. It is a nice idea t get kids strated in the habit of thnaking people.  He can e-mail it to and we'll see that it gets into the right hands!

Q. How will I find out any further information about the award?

A. Any further information that Black Lion teams will need to know will be printed on my NEWS page, - which is updated twice weekly.

Q. I would like to have tee-shirts made saying that we are a Black Lions team.

A. Great idea. You have our permission to do so, and to use the Black Lion insignia. (You may not, however, use it in any way to disparage or belittle the award, the game of football, the United States of America, its armed forces, or its Commander in Chief, nor may you imply any connection between the Black Lion Award or the Black Lions and any commercial message or endorsement.)

Q. I'm pushing for the Black Lion Award at our school  Our system is very slow to change - how would you recommend approaching them?

A. Direct them to this Web site – - which should explain it. You might also offer to administer the award for them and make the presentation or arrange for a veteran or active service person to do so.  In all fairness, I should warn you that there exists in our country, especially in many of its poublic schools,  an anti-military element.

Q. Can I have your permission to print off the information about the Black Lion Award on your web page so I can include it in my packet to hand out at my parent meeting?

A. You may use anything at all on this site that furthers the purposes of the Black Lion Award.