Danny Deitz, the Simsbury High senior who caught a touchdown pass a little over a year after getting a heart transplant, has been selected as the 2017 Section 1 recipient of the “National High School Spirit of Sport Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
The National High School Spirit of Sport Award recognizes those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics. Section I is comprised of New England and New York State.
A two-sport athlete with varsity letters in both football and lacrosse, Deitz’s life changed forever at the end of his sophomore year in 2015 when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. As a result, Deitz had his first open-heart surgery that summer, was put on the national transplant list, and went into liver failure.
Following two months in the hospital, Deitz had planned to return to school part-time while waiting for a new heart, and on September 11, 2015, he received his new heart. Over the next two months, Deitz worked in recovery building up his immune system and his physical strength. During that time, Deitz received financial help from “The Danny Strong Fund,” which had raised more than $125,000 for cardiomyopathy research at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Since returning to Simsbury High, Deitz has worked tirelessly to get caught up on his academics. In addition, he does volunteer work and public speaking engagements for The American Heart Association, Donate Life and the American Heart Association regarding cardiomyopathy.
In fall 2016, Deitz was cleared to return to the football field, and returned to varsity competition by midseason. He went on the play several games by year’s end, and appropriately cemented his return by catching a 7-yard touchdown pass in a game against Enfield High last fall on November 4.
“That was pure joy when he scored that touchdown,” Simsbury football coach Dave Masters said. “That was some magic tonight.”
Through his hard work and dedication, Deitz has become an inspirational role model to many as he has demonstrated that anything is possible through hard work and dedication.
Deitz will be recognized with this honor at the 2017 CAS-CIAC Scholar Athlete Banquet on Sunday, May 7 at the Aqua Turf in Southington.
Deitz is in competition for the national award that will be presented on June 29 at the NHFS Summer Meeting in Providence on Jun 29. There are eight other section winners that are being recognized around the country this spring.