2022-2023 Black Lion Award Recipient — Lucas Leone, Class of 2025
Aquinas sophomore, Lucas Leone, received this year’s Black Lion Award at a ceremony held at the school on Monday, April 24.
While the Black Lion Award is given to a football player, it is not awarded for athletic ability or athletic accomplishments – it is awarded to those who exemplify the character of Don Holleder “leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and above all, an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself."
The national award bears great significance to Aquinas as it is given in memory of Major Don Holleder, an Aquinas alumnus of the Class of 1952, and former West Point All-American who died in combat in Vietnam on October 17, 1967. The award also commemorates the men of the Black Lions – the 28th Infantry Regiment – who died with Holleder that day. Katie (Holleder) Fellows, one of Don’s daughters said, “I love that Aquinas Institute continues this wonderful award and my father’s legacy.”
For Lucas’ football coaches, the choice was easy.
"Lucas Leone is genuinely an outstanding young man. Given the fact that he has been on the varsity football team since 8th grade, I am most impressed that Lucas remains a humble young man whose main focus is not his personal success, but the success of the team. Lucas is a true leader as he sets the bar for his teammates." —Robert D’Ettore ‘73
"Lucas’ work ethic and his leadership by example were the reasons the coaching staff selected him as one of our team captains when he was a freshman player. He has been an asset in every position we put him in through his time in the program, and Lucas is always willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the team. Lucas’ entire high school career has been about sacrifice for the team." —Derek Annechino ‘89
Past Aquinas recipients include Nicholas Borkowski ‘07, Jamir Jones ‘16 of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, Tyler Olbrich ‘17 of West Point, Casey Hochheimer ‘18, Richard Todd ‘19, Joseph DeBonis ‘20, and Benjamin Kingsley ‘23.