West Seneca West head football coach Mike Vastola is one of 32 high school coaches nominated by the NFL teams for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award, the NFL announced Thursday.
Coaches are nominated for the national award for their "character and integrity, leadership and dedication to the community, commitment to player health and safety and on-field success."
Vastola has led a culture change when it comes to football at West Seneca West. In his third year with the program, the Indians not only snapped a 12-year postseason drought but went a perfect 13-0 on their way to a NYSPHSAA Class A championship. Vastola was named the 2017 Buffalo News Coach of the Year and the Coach of the Year in New York by USA Today for guiding West to its first sectional, regional and state titles.
"I'd like to thank my staff, players, school community and family for all of their help in earning this achievement," Vastola said. "It belongs to them as much as it does to me. Being mentioned in the same sentence as Don Shula seems ridiculous, and I'm very humbled to be nominated for such an honor."
All 32 nominees are invited to the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando and will be recognized during the week leading up to the game on Jan. 28. The coaches will participate in a special coaches' clinic, enjoy a VIP visit to Pro Bowl practices and attend the USA Football National Conference. Two finalists will each receive $15,000 from the NFL Foundation, $10,000 of which will go to their high school's football program.
The Don Shula Award winner will be announced during the Pro Bowl and will walk the red carpet at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special that will air nationally on Feb. 3, the day before Super Bowl LII, at 9 p.m. on NBC. The winner is selected by a panel of 11 which includes Don Shula, Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning, Willie McGinest, Condoleeza Rice and Michael Strahan
"High school football coaches serve as role models for young athletes and their impact goes well beyond the playing field," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release. "We are proud to honor this year's nominees who embody the character, integrity and spirit of Coach Shula. Their commitment to improving the lives of students and developing young men of character is commendable."