By Ryan Fennell
Little Silver – Are you a Ryan Lloyd fan?
For those that know him, it’s hard not to be.
Lloyd, a Little Silver resident and sophomore at Red Bank Regional High School, was recently awarded the 2011 Unsung Hero Award by the New Jersey Football Officials Association (NJFOA) at RBR’s Athletic Awards Night.
It was a special night for Lloyd and for those in attendance as there was hardly a dry eye in the house following the presentation.
Dennis Heard, a member of the NJFOA and neighbor of Lloyd’s in Little Silver, was given the honor of presenting Lloyd with the award.
“Very often a football player’s contribution to his team cannot be measured solely by touchdowns scored, yards gained and tackles made,” Heard said during the presentation. “Sometimes a certain player’s dedication and efforts serve as an immeasurable positive motivation to his teammates.”
Heard explained that the award had been created several years ago to “recognize students who displayed uncommon strength and perseverance in the face of life’s very unfair twists and turns.”
“If the award did not already exist, it would have been created this year especially for Ryan Lloyd who perfectly exemplifies its purpose,” Heard said.
Having developed a passion for football at age 10, Lloyd began playing Pop Warner football in middle school before joining Red Bank Regional’s freshmen team last year. Over the summer Lloyd trained with the team, lifted weights, and was in excellent physical condition in preparation for his sophomore season with the Bucs.
However, Lloyd did not play even one snap for the Bucs this year.
On July 29, riding his bike home from volunteering with the Little Silver Recreation program at Markham Place Middle School, Lloyd collided with an SUV on Little Silver Point Road near Seven Bridges Road.
Fortunately for Lloyd, who credits his intense training for the football team as a beneficial factor in the crash, he survived the accident but suffered a serious head contusion when his helmet snapped off.
“I was almost home and I remember I was hit by an SUV. My helmet kind of snapped off but I’d been working out in the weight room for Red Bank Regional football so I was working out so much I damaged the car,” Lloyd said. “As Mr. Heard said at the awards ceremony, the SUV was the loser.”
Heard lives a few doors down from Lloyd and witnessed the aftermath of the collision. Heard said the SUV had been damaged to the extent that the police did not immediately clear the scene, initially treating it as a potential crime scene.
“It was sobering to say the least,” said Heard.
Although painful and suffering through debilitating headaches, Lloyd made a full recovery from the accident but was unable to play for the football team this past season.
“I took it pretty well,” Lloyd said. “Although I wasn’t able to play football due to my injury, I was still able to support my teammates and friends and I was able to persevere through the pain watching on the sidelines.”
Not only did Lloyd attend the games, he attended every practice and helped move bags, set up cones, and motivated teammates to run faster and block harder throughout every practice according to head football coach Nick Giglio.
“Ryan showed up to every practice and every game, and displayed as much heart, energy, and hard work as if he was playing in his equipment,” Giglio said.
Unable to play the game, Lloyd took his team and school spirit a step further and became “The BUC”, the team’s mascot, leading cheers and exciting the crowd.
“It was the best experience of my life,” Lloyd said. “It was a really awesome job. I loved it because I got to hang out with the cheerleaders.”
Away from the football field, Lloyd brings his school spirit into the hallways at RBR as a member of the Better Bucs, a club dedicated to finding ways to improve the school whether it is through aesthetics, decoration, or publicizing school events.
And of course, through his volunteer efforts with the Little Silver Recreation program where he has been a counselor for the past three years.
“I love working with kids and teaching them to have fun and play sports with each other and teach them about teamwork,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd is also a member of RBR’s bowling team and participates in spring track and field.
Suffering no lingering effects from last summer’s accident, Lloyd intends to continue to stay in shape and train for next year’s football season.
“I have the best teammates in the world motivating me and encouraging me to work hard,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd would like to eventually play football at a division I school in college with the hopes of one day playing in the pro’s.
When asked if he would continue to contribute to his community in any way that he could his response was simply, “Absolutely. I love Little Silver.”
Red Bank Regional Athletic Director Louis “Del” Dal Pra, who nominated Lloyd for the Unsung Hero award, calls Lloyd a “go to kid.”
“If you need anything done and you go to him, he will give you his honest 100-percent to complete the task. This is a quality that makes him a very successful person. His enthusiasm is very contagious and you can’t help but root for him,” Dal Pra said. “He’s a great representative for the entire athletic program and for the whole school.”
“I consider myself a huge Ryan Lloyd fan,” Dal Pra added. “It’s easy to become a Ryan Lloyd fan.”