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Award to honor late coach Annarella

AUSTINTOWN — A new scholarship has been established and named in honor of longtime coach in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, Phil Annarella.

A tribute was held for Annarella at a recent Austintown Fitch High School football game honoring his many contributions as a football coach and teacher. Annarella died in June.

Michael Engram, president / founder of Game Changers, said he knew Annarella and wanted to establish the scholarship to honor all he did.

To honor the legacy of Annarella, Engram named the scholarship “The Phil Annarella Jr. Leadership Scholarship.”

“There are key people who have supported me during the building of Game Changers, and coach Annarella is among those names. I believe in giving honor where honor is due, and naming the Game Changers scholarship after coach is the best way I know how to pay homage until we come up with an even more distinguished award. He was a leader among leaders,” Engram said.

“This particular scholarship means a lot to my family. Mike knew my dad and has a wonderful program. My dad really believed in going beyond the athletic side of this with academics and community service. He also focuses on character building. He praised the students for everything they did both academically and athletically. He would want the scholarship even without his name on it to help students,” said Annarella’s daughter, Melissa Annarella Faluhelyi of Stow, formerly of Niles, who attended the event with her brother, Philip Annarella of Girard.

Game Changers is a charitable organization focused on character and leadership development among high school athletes.

Engram, who graduated from Warren G. Harding High School in 1996, said he remembers the lessons that he learned as a student athlete under Annarella.

“Looking back over my time playing football, it’s a blur now. And although I don’t remember every word that was said, or play that was taught, I definitely remember how Coach Annarella instilled discipline and tradition into our mantra that year. And that’s what I appreciate most — the values that were taught to us as young men,” Engram said.

He said in 2015, Annarella was one of Game Changers’ first panelists in their inaugural year of the Leadership Combine at YSU. From 2015 to 2019, Annarella would sent 25-plus of his Fitch Falcolns to the event.

“This was the type of man he was. He didn’t just talk about it, he made sure that he followed through and showed his support until he wasn’t here to do it anymore. He valued any and all things that would make us players productive young men in society,” Engram said.

High school athletes earning a minimum 3.0 GPA and recording a minimum of 50 hours of community service over the 2019-20 school year will have a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship and trip to the 2020 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.

Athletes who are interested in applying for the Phil Annarella, Jr. Leadership Scholarship and trip to the 2020 ESPYS must download the Game Changers App (GC360) on Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Athletes can start today by tracking their grades and community service hours. Any school administrators looking to bring the Game Changer’s program to their school can go to WeAreGC.org and click on GC Chapters, under programs, or contact Engram at 330-529-9808.

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