Charlie Ward's 1993 Heisman Trophy on Display at TCPLS

Ward Heisman Trophy  Charlie Ward 1993

About The Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Memorial Trophy (aka The Heisman Trophy or simply The Heisman) is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football.  Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.

In 1935, the award was created by the Downtown Athletic Club (located in Lower Manhattan, NYC) to recognize "the most valuable college football player east of the Mississippi," and was first awarded to University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger.  After the death in October 1936 of the club's athletic director, John Heisman, the award was named in his honor and broadened to include players west of the Mississippi.  It is the oldest of several overall awards in college football.

Designed by Frank Eliscu, a well-known sculptor and National Academy of Design Prize Winner, Frank selected Ed Smith, a leading player on the 1934 New York University football team, as his primary model.  Made from an ancient method known as the lost wax process of bronze casting, the completed sculpture weighs 45 pounds, is 14 inches long, 13 inches in height, and 6 inches in width.  The Trophy depicts a skilled and powerful football player, sidestepping and straight-arming his way to a touchdown.

Charlie Ward's Heisman Journey
Charlie Ward Junior is a former Florida State University football star and professional basketball player who was born in Thomasville, Georgia and raised less than two miles from the public library.  In Thomasville, his athletic career began through playing whatever sport his neighborhood wanted to play that day.  His mother, Willard Ward, believes a key event that shaped her son was a knee injury he had early in high school. A bone issue that required surgery left his doctors unsure of his athletic future.

"When that was taken away [the possibility of a career in athletics], I was, of course, frustrated," Charlie Jr. said. "But I was able to learn that I needed to make sure I took my schooling seriously because it can be easily taken away, the thing that I enjoyed most."

Charlie began his Florida State University sports journey as the starting punter of the Seminole football team and eventually became the university's starting quarterback in 1992.  In 1993, he led the Seminoles to their first ever national championship when FSU defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.  One of the most decorated players in the history of college football, Charlie won every award he was eligible for as a senior quarterback on Florida State’s 1993 National Championship team.  He is FSU's first Heisman Award winner and the only Heisman winner ever to play in the NBA.

About a decade after Charlie's win, TCPLS asked the Wards if it would be possible to put the trophy on display for a time.   Willard Ward being a librarian herself, the Wards were happy to oblige. The trophy was moved from its shelf in their home and displayed in the library.  The Wards decided it should stay there.

In a glass case within the Thomasville Main Library, Charlie Ward's 45-pound Heisman Memorial Trophy resides with his No. 17 Seminoles jersey, a collectable basketball card from his time with the New York Knicks, and a framed photo of Charlie Ward Jr.  Atop the case, beside a list of his 1993 national championship season accomplishments, stands a quote from Charlie: "One way to get a quality education is to read what you don't want and do what you'd rather not."

"Every award, everyone's not going to be able to win.  But what they can strive to do is have a sense of achievement," said Charlie Jr. "Whatever that achievement may be, it may be reading five books during the summer, you get a reward for that, whatever that reward may be.  So, it's not so much about the Heisman, but about the process and the journey of it.  We all have those processes and journeys to meet our goals.  That is something we can all strive to do.  And that's what it's really symbolic of."

Ward Heisman 2

(Quotes courtesy of the Harry Lyles, Jr. ESPN 'Ward 30-Years Later' article.) 

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