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'Heart of a Giant' Nominee Michelle Tiso Speaks About Creating a Culture of Participation

Michelle TisoFor years, Eastchester High School senior Michelle Tiso has been one of the most recognizable faces of Eastchester’s athletic community. Now, the rest of the football world is taking notice. 


Last week, Tiso was nominated for the USA Football “Heart of a Giant” Award, taking her place alongside nine other tri-state area student-athletes who were recognized by the organization—in conjunction with the Giants and the Hospital for Special Surgery—for their character, hard work and dedication to the school community. 


Tiso’s on-field accomplishments are undeniably impressive. As a junior, she quarterbacked the Eastchester Varsity Flag Football Team to the first-ever Section 1 title, earning All-Section honors in the process. But it is her impact away from the field that truly sets her apart, according to head coach Vito DeBellis, who recommended the senior for the award.


“Her leadership qualities, the way that she handles herself, her integrity, her character and her work ethic are second to none,” said DeBellis. “She is exactly what a program like this needs; her winning attitude and how she helps foster school pride . . . there’s nothing that she doesn’t do in the school.” 


Tiso was instrumental in lobbying for flag football to be added to the school’s varsity ranks last winter, but she has been an advocate for other sports and clubs as well, serving as the Athletic Council President, filming athletic-related segments for the Eagles TV studio, and singing in the school choir.


She believes that being open to new experiences has been integral to her high school experience and thanked those who have encouraged her to expand her horizons. 


“I give a lot of credit to my older sister; she pushed me to get involved in all these clubs,” said Tiso. “So, because of that, I found ways, through teachers and people I knew, to put myself in those positions.”


When she isn’t picking apart opposing defenses, Tiso may be best known to the Eastchester community as the “Voice of the Eagles,” serving as the public address announcer for basketball and (boys) football games, where her passion for Eastchester’s athletic programs is on full display. 


“The first time I did a real Eagles game was the first football game of my sophomore year, back in 2021, and I had all these nerves. I didn’t think I was going to get through it,” she said. “But the students and the parents loved it, they showed me so much support, so it makes it so much fun to do what I do.”


That support has been on display since the nomination was announced, as members of the community have been casting their votes for the hometown favorite on the USA Football website. Voting will stay open until Sept. 24, but Tiso said the feedback she’s gotten already has been humbling.


“I always say that I love doing this for my fellow athletes and for my peers, and a lot of the work I do with the athletic council is for other people to enjoy,” she said. “But it’s nice to be recognized in this way, and it’s nice to see that everyone knows my heart is in the right place.”


Now, as she prepares for her last year as an Eastchester student, Tiso hopes that younger students will follow her example and throw themselves into pursuits that will benefit their school, town, and community. 


“I want everyone to feel like they are a part of something because, for me, getting involved was who I became in the school,” she said. “I encourage everyone to do the same thing; whether you’re a freshman or a senior, just get involved because it makes it all worth it.


“It’s all about culture,” she added. “I think that Mr. Gitlin, our Athletic Director, has been great, [EHS Principal] Dr. Capuano is always lending a hand and giving us the opportunity to branch out . . . we do this all to cast that net so that other students come join us.”


To cast your vote for Michelle Tiso, visit