Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Alabama coach Nick Saban knows a few things about victory, proven winning nearly 88 percent of his games at Alabama and the six national championship rings gathering dust in his trophy case.
But 2018 Wendy's High School Heisman winners Sunjay Chawla and Lauren Eccles have also been winning for a long time. Yes, Chawla and Eccles are stellar athletes. But their accolades reach beyond an athletic platform and even beyond scholastic success.
Eccles and Chawla have inspired future generations of students to help others reach for levels they never knew possible. Eccles, a Jefferson County High School senior (Dandridge, Tenn.), and Chawla, a senior at Pillow Academy (Greenwood, Miss.), spoke with UPI about their achievements and the experience of winning their latest accolade alongside college football's elite last weekend in New York City.
"I'm just super competitive in everything I do, academics, athletics .. whatever it is," Chawla said. "I always want to be the best. I want to have the respect of my peers. I want them to look up to me in a good way. I want to set a good example for everyone. I want to be the best I can in whatever I do. I hate second place. I hate losing, so to avoid that I try to study the hardest. I try to practice the hardest ... The best in school, on the field or on the court."
Chawla rubbed elbows with Saban while watching the Heisman Trophy Trust's annual college Heisman award ceremony. The soccer, tennis and golf star with a 4.9 GPA also got to meet and converse with Heisman winner Kyler Murray and Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
"They were really happy for me for winning the award," Chawla said. "They definitely congratulated me. When I got to get a picture with Kyler after he had won, he complimented my suit which was really cool. Tua I talked to him for about 10 minutes at the reception on Friday at the hotel about life in general. I'm an Ole Miss fan so we talked about that game. Just really normal and nice guys."
Normal isn't a word that should be associated with Chawla or Eccles' achievements. In addition to his four tennis state titles and All-State selections in all three of the sports he participates in, Chawla also built a tennis wall as his Eagle Scout project, affording beginners of a place to hit tennis balls for free and learn the basics of the sport. He also helped create the Love Tennis Club for Beginners and has volunteered for more than 100 hours to provide free tennis lessons to the youth.
Chawla -- who scored a 34 on his ACT and a 212 on his PSAT -- also created the Chawla ACT Institute at Greenwood High School to provide tutoring and study manuals for underprivileged youth. He received a $5,000 college scholarship as part of winning the Heisman and is leaning toward attending the Honors College at Ole Miss. He aspires to become a CEO.
Eccles is looking at several schools, including Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. The soccer captain said she will play soccer in college if given the option. She was also All-State in swimming and All-District in track and field. Eccles plans to major in chemical engineering. She is graduating with an associates degree in science two weeks before her high school graduation.
She is the youngest of four sisters who have applied for the honor, but the only one to win the award.
"All of my sisters applied to the scholarship," Eccles said. "They have gotten school finalist, state finalist and state winner. We have been doing it for a while but I never expected to get the national winner."
"I really look up to my parents and my sisters who all guide me and provide the pathways that show me what I can do and what I need to do to get to their point and even work harder and get past it."
Eccles -- who posted a 36 on her ACT and a 1,540 on her SAT -- is also first in her class with a 4.7/4.0 GPA. In addition to being a star athlete, she obtained her American Young Soccer Organization youth volunteer and referee certification. She has also volunteers to work games and clean up field sat the Boys and Girls Club.
"It's a cool award honoring student athletes," Chawla said. "It's a huge award to win. I was honored to win it. The community support I've gotten from Greenwood and everyone has been incredible ... They've put up billboards. I've been offered ads for companies. It has been a life-changing event."