Youngstown State senior quarterback Kurt Hess was one of three student-athletes who were honored with a Local Champion Award at the United Way's Champions Among Us event on Monday night at the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngstown.
Hess, former Pittsburgh soccer standout Ashley Cuba and current Kent State defensive back Luke Wollet were three student-athletes to receive a Local Champion Award last night. Wollet (Poland H.S.) and Cuba (Cardinal Mooney H.S.) are both Youngstown natives while Hess is from Dayton.
Other special guests at the fundraiser and ceremony were Cleveland Browns offensive lineman John Greco, country singer and Youngstown native Sarah Turner while the featured speaker was Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. Bob Hannon, Youngstown State football radio broadcaster and President of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley was the master of ceremonies for the evening.
Hannon introduced Hess as one of the best quarterbacks in school history, who by the end of the his senior campaign this fall, should own almost every position record in school history.
Hess said he was proud that the United Way would honor three student-athletes with the award and that all were very deserving. He thanked his teammates and Head Coach Eric Wolford who was in attendance at the dinner. Hess also thanked YSU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Shane Montgomery and the coaches on the offensive staff.
He thanked his family - his two sisters, his brother, Nick - and his parents who were in attendance. Hess said his dad has always been there for him and has been a great teacher. Hess thanked his mom and told the crowd that during his first start in 2010 at Penn State she still had faith in a Penguins rally despite trailing by 30 points late in the fourth quarter. He said she believes in YSU and believes in him even if he feels no one else does.
Hess admitted not knowing much about Youngstown State until fall of the 2008. He signed with the Penguins in February 2009 and redshirted in the fall. He told the audience that he went to Miami (Ohio)'s quarterback camps when Montgomery was the program's head coach and how ironic it is that they both ended up at YSU. Then he said he met former Penguins quarterbacks Marc Kanetsky and Brandon Summers at a summer camp in Toledo while in high school and that made his transition a smooth one.
He said he has had a tremendous amount of opportunities at YSU and had the chance to meet wonderful people here and that giving his best everyday doesn't seem like enough and that he wishes he could give more.
"The people here give it right back and the city of Youngstown has been great," he said.
Hess drew some applause from Ed Muransky, former YSU radio analyst, because he wore a yellow shirt with a blue tie with OSU's Meyer as the featured speaker. Muransky, a Michigan graduate, appreciated Hess's attire for the event.