Beyond The Trophy: Brian Lalli, Colgate University


BRIAN LALLI COLGATE

Name: Brian Lalli

College: Colgate University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-0, 190, junior, wide receiver

High School: Valley View HS in Archbald, Pa.

About Brian Lalli: A three-sport athlete in high school, Lalli saw his first action as a college player last season as a sophomore. And his first-ever college start is something Lalli will never forget. The President of the Colgate Chapter had a 31-yard touchdown reception that proved to be the game-winning score in a 28-24 victory over Holy Cross. Lalli, an economics major, finished the 2013 season with nine catches. Lalli already has 10 catches this season for 91 yards as a regular contributor in the Colgate passing attack.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

LALLI: My favorite part of game day at Colgate is seeing my family as well as my teammates’ families. The family support we get at Colgate is second to none. People travel from all over the country just to watch us play and I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say how much it means to us.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

LALLI: Jimmy DeCicco, our former chapter President and close friend of mine, suggested I get involved. Under his wing, I was exposed to all of the wonderful things Uplifting Athletes does for people. I’m now able to support a great cause while playing a sport that I love and for me, nothing could be more rewarding..

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

LALLI: In my first collegiate start, I caught the game winning touchdown pass against Holy Cross.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

LALLI: Air Force. The players at Air Force were well coached and incredibly disciplined. They made moving the ball pretty difficult for us.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

LALLI: Nyeem Wartman from Penn State University. Nyeem is one of my

best friends and I try to watch as many of his games as I can. He’s a tremendous talent at linebacker and I can’t wait to watch him play on Sundays in the future.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

LALLI: Hines Ward for his fearlessness and Jerry Rice for his work ethic.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

LALLI: My favorite road stadium to play at is Lafayette’s because they have the most spacious locker rooms.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?

LALLI: I’m looking forward to finding something else to satisfy my competitive edge. Probably golf. I also want to be able to coach my kids in sports and travel to all different parts of the world with my family.

 

An in-depth look at Florida State Chapter President Kevin Haplea


Kevin Haplea

This story written by Florida State sports information intern Jack Shields and originally appeared on Seminoles.com.

Redshirt senior tight end Kevin Haplea returned to the Seminoles in 2014 after sitting out all of last season recovering from a knee injury. Pairing with Nick O’Leary, the Annandale, N.J. native gives FSU a pair of veteran tight ends with plenty of experience. Haplea transferred to FSU in 2012 from Penn State and has appeared in 40 games since his freshman season in 2010. And while Haplea has made a significant contribution on the field with two touchdown receptions, he has also made an impact off the field. During his year off from football, Haplea founded Florida State’s Uplifting Athletes chapter last fall and spearheaded events that have raised over $10,000 for Fanconi anemia research.  Now in his third season with the ‘Noles, Haplea talks about his journey to his final season of collegiate football.

Q: You suffered a knee injury in the summer leading up to the 2013 season. Can you describe the healing process leading up to the 2014 season?
A: Well, it’s been pretty long. The normal ACL recovery is anywhere from six-to-eight months, and after that, once you’re healed, it’s more getting it back into shape – just conditioning it to play football again. It was a long process, you know, healing it, getting it strengthened up. But it’s over now, and I’m definitely glad it’s over. It was really long and really tedious and frustrating at times.

Q: Last fall, you founded Florida State’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Can you explain what this is?
A: It’s a national nonprofit organization that aligns college football players with rare diseases. And the way it works is different schools will pick their own disease to raise money for. For us, our inspiration was Ethan – Coach Fisher’s son. But it can be a former player or family member of someone on the team. They pick a disease that hits home for them, and they do different activities to raise money. We’ve done the Lift for Life event this summer and the Touchdown Drive. It’s all about raising money and using our platform as college football players to raise awareness for diseases that go usually underserved.

Q: You began your career at Penn State and transferred to Florida State. What qualities about FSU set it apart from other potential destinations?
A: Well, at the time it was the only school that I also got recruited by in high school that still had the same head coach, Coach Fisher, and my tight end coach, which was James Coley at the time. FSU was familiar for me because it was the same coaches that I had when I was getting recruited. And on top of that the academics fit well. The team, too. Obviously I came into a winning situation. The tight end depth situation was right. Everything pretty much lined up as well as it could have considering the circumstance where I transferred so late, so close to camp.

Q: How difficult was it to leave a program you had been a part of for two years and start new?
A: Yeah, it was pretty tough. You know, the hardest part was definitely leaving all the good friendships I had made there over the two-and-a-half years I was there. And, you know, it was a great place to go to school. My twin sister went there, and she stayed there and graduated. It was definitely tough, but it was kind of like a leap of faith I had to take, and it’s worked out great.

Q: Outside of football and rehabilitation, what did you do over the summer?
A: I just tried to stay busy. I mean, whatever it was, whether it was going swimming or reading. I just tried to stay active. Football, working out and working on my knee to get it strengthened up was definitely my primary focus this summer. But in the summer we have a lot of free time and we usually don’t know what to do with it. I just stayed busy.

Q: Your father and uncle both attended the Naval Academy. How did their military background influence your upbringing? Have the lessons they’ve learned been passed down to you?
A: Yeah, definitely. They both went to the Naval Academy, and I was definitely raised with a high standard for discipline and just what it meant to be a man; I think would probably be the best way to describe it. I definitely learned a lot of lessons the hard way. My dad sunk a lot of stuff into me that he wanted to so I think he’s probably pretty happy.

Q: Do the young tight ends on the team look up to you for advice? Does tight ends coach Tim Brewster rely on you and fellow senior tight end Nick O’Leary to provide them with guidance?
A: Yeah, definitely. He definitely looks for me and Nick to be senior leaders. We’re both seniors and we set an example on the field in terms of the assignments that we have to do. We help out the younger players off the field too. We let them know how the away road trips work, where you need to be, what you have to wear, what to bring, what not to bring. So he definitely looks for us to provide leadership in both those ways. The younger guys are always asking questions and stuff on the field, and they know they can come to us with anything they have.

Q: Talk about the different roles you have as a tight end this year, and do you prefer blocking or pass-catching?
A: In our offense you pretty much have to be able to do everything. To play tight end you have to be able to block, you have to be able to receive, pass-block. You have to go in motion sometimes, line up in different spots. It’s a pro-style offense, you can’t be confined to one thing that you can do or else you’re really going to limit yourself. So it’s best to be able to do everything and Coach Fisher will put you in spots that obviously play to your strengths. And of course, I enjoy catching the football.

Q: Tight ends coach Tim Brewster brings a lot of college and NFL experience to the FSU football program. Since his arrival, how has his presence and experience had an impact on the tight ends?
A: I think he’s had a huge impact. His track record speaks for itself in terms of where he’s been and who he’s coached. And for me it’s been all about listening to everything that he says and just different techniques, different ways that he explains stuff that maybe sinks in a little bit different than if someone else were to say it in a different way. But yeah, I think he’s definitely evolved the tight end position at Florida State a lot since he’s been here, and he’ll continue to do it.

Q: As a native of New Jersey, how often do you have a chance to go back home? Do you miss the northeast at times? What do you miss about it?
A: I go home for spring break, usually. I don’t really go to the beach. I like to go home and see my family and stuff like that. I usually get some time, even if it’s only a day or two around Christmas. But yeah, I definitely miss going home. I’d say the cold weather is what I miss probably the most because the summer is great down here and everything like that, but I like it when it gets cold and there’s snow around Christmas and the winter time. That’s probably what I miss the most.

Q: As far as the football field is concerned, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: Probably back in 2012 when we won the ACC Championship and the Orange Bowl. I wasn’t on the field last year. I was on the team but wasn’t on the field. I’d probably say that my best accomplishment was being part of an ACC Championship team, going to a BCS Bowl and  winning an Orange Bowl championship.

 

Beyond The Trophy: Levi Norwood, Baylor University


Levi Norwood

Name: Levi Norwood

College: Baylor University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 200, senior, wide receiver

High School: Midway HS in Waco, Texas

About Levi Norwood: Has made a name for himself in Waco as a dynamic punt returner and inside receiver for the high-powered Bears. In 2013 was an All-Big 12 selection after amassing 1,220 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns for a team that won the conference title. Norwood is the President of the Baylor Chapter and graduated with a degree in public relations in May, and did an internship in the athletic department in 2013. A preseason A preseason All-Big 12 pick as a punt returner by the league media, Norwood was also on the preseason Biletnikoff Watch List for wide receivers. Norwood, who is approaching 100 career receptions for the Bears, played on the BU basketball team in 2011-12 and has been on two international mission trips with Baylor student-athletes.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

NORWOOD: Our “March of the Bears” before each game when we get off the bus and our fans greet us walking to the stadium. With our new stadium right on the Brazos River, there are people in boats and crowded onto bridges just to see us walk in. It’s a pretty cool experience.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

NORWOOD: Growing up in State College, I saw the impact that it had at Penn State. I developed a relationship with the Burks family and when I found out Jacoby’s disease was a rare one, my teammates and I wanted to start a chapter.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

NORWOOD: My whole experience at Baylor has been memorable. Seeing the program going from 14straight losing seasons to being a part of a Heisman Trophy winner, a Big 12 Championship, and a new stadium, its all been amazing.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

NORWOOD: A few tough teams are Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State. Those are some traditional powerhouse teams so, they always have some of the top players in the country and makes for some tough games.

What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?

NORWOOD: I graduated this past May with a Public Relations degree. With that getting help from our communications department is a little easier since I am able to understand how they operate from a public relations standpoint.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

NORWOOD: I’ve always been a Penn State fan so I’ve been watching Christian Hackenberg and their receivers up there. Hackenberg kind of reminds me of our quarterback, Bryce Petty.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

NORWOOD: My big brother, Jordan Norwood. As a smaller receiver he has always been an underdog, buthis faith has always pushed him through any injury or roster cut and kept him in the NFL for a long time.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

NORWOOD: Each year we play Texas Tech in Cowboy Stadium. That stadium is like none other, and the games are usually pretty high scoring.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?

NORWOOD: I look forward to having more free time. More time to get into things like photography and traveling to different parts of the world.

 

 

 

Tim Shaw has bold plan for living a full life with ALS


Tim Shaw

Tim Shaw is a former Penn State and Tennessee Titans linebacker who is an Uplifting Athletes Letterman. Recently during the ALS IceBucket Challenge, Shaw used the challenge to announce publicly that he had been diagnosed with the rare disease ALS. Shaw authored his own story that was posted on Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) blog with Peter King. This is what Shaw wrote.

I first noticed my body changing at the end of the 2012 season. Something was off, and I had no idea what. I worked closely with the Titans’ doctors, but they couldn’t find an answer, so I carried on.

It became increasingly clear I wasn’t the same player. At the end of training camp in 2013 I got cut. I wasn’t so much angry as I was confused. I was only 29. The year before, I had my best season as a pro. I still wanted to play, and knew I had some good football in me. So I kept training, figuring I’d end up somewhere.

The season began, weeks went by, and nobody picked me up. I had a tryout with the Texans in November, but that didn’t work out. Throughout the process, my body started doing things it had never done before. There was a slight twitch in my muscles, and I didn’t have great balance. I could barely do a curl because my right arm felt weak. If I couldn’t train at the same level I normally trained at, how could I play at the same level I normally played at?

I came to terms with the fact I could no longer play football. In March, I filed NFL retirement papers. Over the course of two years I had seen countless doctors, and nobody could give me answers. What happened to my body? Why did I have to retire?

That’s what led me to a specialist’s office in April, and the news that changed my life.

The doctor came in with his assistant, just the three of us in the room. I’m one to always stay positive, and I never considered it could be something too serious. I went into the visit thinking surgery on a pinched nerve would be the worst possible outcome. Then the doctor started talking. He was very deliberate and careful with his words, and I appreciated that. I know it was tough for him to tell me. It was devastating to hear.

Tim, you have ALS.

What do you do when you hear that? What can you do? When I left the doctor’s office, I was stunned. I couldn’t call anyone, because I couldn’t talk. Not right then, at least. I definitely couldn’t call my parents. They would be heartbroken, and I couldn’t fathom listening to the worry in their voices. I texted my brother on my way to the car, and then just carried on with my day as a usual. I even went to a business meeting. As I went through the motions, the diagnosis lingered in the back of my mind. I hadn’t really come to terms with it, and it definitely hadn’t hit me. All I knew was that everything was about to change.

Here’s the thing: I already knew a lot about ALS.

In February, my sister-in-law’s mother passed away from the disease. Over the past four years my family had witnessed and been a part of her journey. We watched her fight and her struggle. I couldn’t bear to think of my family going through that heartbreak again. I couldn’t imagine this disease affecting me.

Slowly I let close friends and family know. I kept things small as I came to terms with my new reality.

Then the Ice Bucket Challenge happened: video after video of athletes, celebrities and regular people dumping ice water over their heads, talking about ALS, raising awareness and money. I wasn’t quite ready to share my diagnosis with the world, but realized this was an opportunity to keep the conversation moving forward. It was my idea to make a video announcement on the Titans’ website, but it wasn’t easy to do. I got nervous before we filmed. It’s hard to tell the world you’re not doing great. I don’t want to be looked at someone who is sick. I have fears about people treating me differently or looking at me like a charity case.

TIM SHAW 1I never could have envisioned the feedback I received. It was simply an outpouring of love and support. I heard from everybody and anybody. Guys I had played with, guys I had played against, people I only met once, people I had never met. My phone didn’t stop ringing for days; hundreds and hundreds of messages. I still haven’t responded to everybody; I don’t know how. To be the person everyone is praying for is amazing and humbling, but also difficult. It’s a reminder that things are bad.

A lot of people have asked if football had any role in my contracting the disease. I don’t have the answer to that, and I don’t think doctors know the answer either. That’s the problem: ALS research has been severely underfunded. When a person gets diagnosed with cancer, they know they can try treatment. There are medications they can take and survivor stories they can lean on. When a person gets diagnosed with ALS, they have no options. There are no success stories. There is little hope. You ask, Why aren’t doctors looking at me more? Why aren’t they studying me? Why are there no answers?

The Ice Bucket Challenge is great and has raised a ton of money. It shows that we can do incredible things when people come together. But I know it’s a fad, and soon it will fade away. The challenge now is, What are we going to do moving forward? A lot of questions need to be asked. A lot of movements need to happen. Let’s start raising money every year for ALS research. Let’s start focusing on getting answers for people who don’t have any hope.

By the time you read this, I’ll have already left for a 10-day trip to Brazil with my father. We’re taking a boat 18 hours deep into the Amazon, getting on a smaller boat to reach a small village, and working to help those people get fresh water. This is my second time taking this trip. At times it’s uncomfortable and tough. We sleep on the boat and there is a lot of manual labor to build a well. However, it’s an experience that has truly altered my perspective on life. It’s an adventure, and you connect with people on a completely different level: singing with them, going to church with them, working on improving their lives. When I’m serving, when I’m doing something that’s completely for someone else, that’s when I’m at my best.

As humans we need to realize there’s always somebody struggling, always somebody who needs help. The more we can think about other people and do things for other people, the better off our world is going to be. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so stop wasting your time today. I want to challenge people to eliminate the things that don’t matter and increase the things that can make a difference. If you found out you weren’t going to be around in a month, would you be stressing about insignificant, trivial things?

I have ALS, but I am not letting that dictate my life. In June, I completed my master’s in business administration. I own a kick boxing gym in Nashville, co-own a music venue, and do vacation rentals. I’m dabbling in investing and some other business opportunities. I want to pursue those things—and I’m going to pursue them. I’m going to go on mission trips, I’m going to go on golf trips, I’m going to do all the things I have been doing, and I’m going to help people along the way.

I wish I didn’t have this disease, but I have been given this platform, and I will do whatever I can to push the conversation forward. I don’t know what that looks like at this point. I do know that any invitations I receive to speak, I’ll speak. Any opportunities I’m asked to get involved with, I’ll do so. I’ll get my own money and pour my own support into this. Now the world knows I have ALS. What are we going to do about it?

Beyond The Trophy: Michael Ramos, Princeton University


MICHAEL RAMOSName: Michael Ramos

College: Princeton University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 285 pounds, senior, offensive lineman

High School: St. Ignatius HS in Cleveland, Ohio

About Michael Ramos: In his second full season as a starter after breaking into the rotation as a sophomore. Last year was part of an offensive line that helped the Tigers to break Ivy League records in scoring and yards per game for a season. Princeton won its first Ivy League title since 2006 by winning eight consecutive games – including scoring 50 or more points in five of those games. A National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, Ramos started every two games his final two seasons of high school. A pre-med major, Ramos is the president of the Princeton Chapter and has aspirations to be a doctor.

 As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

RAMOS: My favorite part about the game day experience is right after our pregame meal when our offensive line gets together and collects our thoughts before game time.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

RAMOS: I first heard about Uplifting Athletes my freshman year when I was told how Jordan Culbreath battled his way back onto the football field after being diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. As time went on, I learned more and more about the organization and truly believed in the importance of raising money and awareness for such diseases that are often overlooked. With my desire to become a doctor, the experience has opened my eyes to rare diseases and has pushed me to continue to pursue a career pathway in which I can one day help people.

 What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

RAMOS: My most memorable experience as a player so far is beating Harvard in triple overtime during my junior year.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

RAMOS: Harvard. Their team is very talented and consistently successful.

 What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?

RAMOS: I am a Molecular Biology major and my interest and passion for medicine and rare diseases are what I have contributed to the Princeton Chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

RAMOS: Georgia running back Todd Gurley.

 Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

RAMOS: Joe Thomas, the Cleveland Browns left tackle, because of his approach to the game.

 What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

RAMOS: The Yale Bowl because of the history.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?

RAMOS: I am looking forward to continuing to work towards my dream of becoming a doctor and watching more college football.

The epitome of “Together We Are Stronger”


NEBRASKA2This story was posted Saturday in support of the Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Game at Nebraska against McNeese State by Randy York, who writes for Huskers.com.

On Saturday, inside Memorial Stadium, 130 people sat together to support a cause. They represented 25 families who share a vision to increase pediatric brain cancer awareness and came to Memorial Stadium to thank Bo Pelini, the Husker football team and its Uplifting Athletes organization for creating a force that is so strong that nearly $2 million has been raised to fight the disease they battle every day.

Jack Hoffman has carried the torch for Nebraska’s well-known, grassroots effort to raise awareness for pediatric brain cancer research. “But it all goes back to a 20-year-old college student-athlete who took the time to care,” said Andy Hoffman, Jack’s dad whose family shares the hardship of a deadly disease and the resolve to do whatever’s humanly possible to change the game for other kids.

“Rex is really the root of this overall effort,” Andy Hoffman said. “It all started when he agreed to let Jack into his life. I don’t think any of this awareness game would be happening if Rex didn’t say yes to our request to meet him. So many people want to credit Team Jack, but it all goes back to Rex, Coach Bo, the football team and Nebraska’s Life Skills Department. They’re the ones who brought it all together.”

Andy Hoffman: We’re All in This Together

“We don’t think of ourselves as being anything other than fellow brain tumor parents,” Andy said. “We don’t feel a special or elevated status. We are just grateful to the Nebraska Athletic Department and to the football players who formed an Uplifting Athletes chapter to do what they can to help. One of my greatest personal joys in the last three years has been the way dozens of Nebraska families have come together because a football program has opened up our collective hearts so we can share our collective experiences.”

A case in point happened two weeks ago when parents of Nebraska pediatric brain cancer patients met at Boston Children’s Hospital to share their thoughts and raise each other’s spirits. Jack’s mom, Brianna, was in Boston for 8-year-old Jack’s new rounds of treatment to fight his inoperable brain tumor. Brent Gehring, a former Bellevue high school basketball coach, quit his job after Emma, his 2-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with the same disease. They were in Boston at the same time for a surgical procedure that would precede Emma’s fourth round of chemotherapy.

Like the Hoffmans, Brent and Kathryn Gehring “go into battle mode every day because there really is no other option,” Brent said. “It gives me chills talking about what Nebraska football has done to help kids suffering from this life-threatening disease. They’ve quickly adopted the cause and the awareness they’ve helped create is incomparable to anywhere else across the country.”

NEBRASKA1Team Jack Hosts Others Battling the Same Cause

Keith Zimmer, Nebraska’s longtime associate athletic director for Life Skills, says Burkhead’s strong personal relationship with Jack produced all kinds of pivotal moments that included Jack winning an ESPY Award in Los Angeles and led to Jack’s family and Rex being invited to visit the White House.

Major public experiences created a special awareness for pediatric brain cancer, and Saturday was another example with two dozen Nebraska families accepting Nebraska Life Skills’ invitation to watch the Huskers’ defeat McNeese State, 31-24 on electrifying play from Heisman Trophy candidate Ameer Abdullah.  After the game, the Team Jack family invited all other participating families to a postgame tailgate reception in downtown Lincoln where they shared dinner and continued to lift up each other.  “We’re all in this together,” Andy said.

“Today is a celebration of what started as something pretty innocent and quickly became something that can help countless kids with important funds for research,” Zimmer said. “I think the big thing to underscore everything that’s happened is fairly simple. Nebraska football was the driving force for Team Jack and created worldwide visibility. Jack is not only the poster child for Team Jack, he’s become the world’s poster child for pediatric brain cancer awareness.”

After Losing Isaiah, Dad Helps Inspire Others

Jack also has become an honorary captain of Zimmer’s ability to connect Nebraska’s Life Skills program to other families going through the same experiences Jack has. Among the families in Memorial Stadium today are the parents and sisters of Isaiah Casillas, a 6-year-old who shared a special Tunnel Walk experience with buddy Jack two years ago before a Husker win over Wisconsin. Isaiah died two months later from the disease and Pat Casillas, his dad, is forever grateful for Coach Pelini’s compassion, genuineness and leadership by example.

“It was a tough experience for us and the disease is still scary for so many others,” said Pat Casillas, whose family moved from McCook to Lincoln 18 months ago. “We know how many of these kids are fighting for their lives, and even though it’s hard for us to go back to our own experience, we want to be there to help inspire other families. We want to hold up Coach Pelini and Team Jack for inspiring so many of us to fight. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to step up to the plate, but we know we have to keep moving the ball, just like a football team does.”

UA NEBRASKA BECKYHuskers’ Passion Produces Servant Leaders

Zimmer could not agree more. “Our effort is far-reaching, and Team Jack was the catalyst,” he said. “Rex inspired other players to step up and do what they can. That’s why Uplifting Athletes was born here. We all remember Rex winning the national award for his contributions to fighting a rare disease. The passion really is far-reaching. So many of our players want to answer the call and be servant leaders. I give Coach Pelini credit. Nebraska Athletics has taught these football players that there’s something bigger than they are and when they’re in position to make a difference, they answer the call…not only with brain cancer patients, but with the elderly, school kids, Make a Wish kids…you name it, they’re there and they should be saluted for that.”

Count Andy Hoffman, wife Brianna Hoffman and Becky Mayes as leaders who simply cannot salute the Huskers enough.  During the game, after all 25 families were honored at Memorial Stadium, Nebraska Life Skills Coordinator Jordan Wilson joined Lincoln Track Club Co-Directors Glen Moss and Nancy Sutton-Moss, plus Husker receiver and Uplifting Athletes Nebraska Chapter President Sam Burtch, in presenting a $30,000 check to Mayes, who works for Uplifting Athletes.  The check represented the proceeds from the 2014 Uplifting Athletes’ Road Race last July in collaboration with the Lincoln Track Club.  The funds are designated to benefit pediatric research nationwide.  “We started our chapter of Uplifting Athletes to do what we can do to help kids,” Burtch said Saturday.  “For us, it’s all about helping others and to have the whole Husker family behind us means a lot.  We will continue to do everything we can.”

Andy Hoffman agreed.  “We invited all the brain tumor families and the Life Skills Department for this special gathering after the game because they’ve had an unbelievable impact on people’s lives,” he said. “What life skills does to inspire players is phenomenal because the players go on to support other foundations and philanthropies and every time they do, there’s a ripple effect. I think it’s all a reflection of the Athletic Department and the kinds of individuals they recruit. When you get the right kids and combine their talents with the ingredients life skills provides, gigantic things happen. That’s what’s so great about Nebraskans. They not only create awareness…they get things done!”

Beyond The Trophy: Anthony Lopez, University of Arizona


ANTHONY LOPEZEach week during the college football season Uplifting Athletes will highlight one of its student-athlete chapter leaders with an in-depth Q&A.

Name: Anthony Lopez

College: University of Arizona

Height, weight, class, position: 5-11, 211, junior, safety

High School: Mesquite HS in Gilbert, Ariz.

About Anthony Lopez: A two-sport athletes in high school, Lopez was an honorable mention all-state football player as a senior playing running back and defensive secondary. He also ran track. Lopez played in all 12 games his freshman year on special teams, and as a sophomore in 2013 registered 14 tackles for the Wildcats playing both special teams and as part of the secondary rotation. Made his first career start against Colorado in a 44-20 victory. The Arizona Chapter started in 2013 and Lopez is part of the student-athlete leadership team that helped the Wildcats hold their first Lift For Life event earlier this year in the fight against Cystic Fibrosis.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

LOPEZ: Definitely doing the haka with the team in front of the ZonaZoo.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

LOPEZ: I just wanted to give back to the community and Andrew (Valdez) was my biggest motivation. It has been a very humbling experience to learn about all the rare diseases the other Uplifting Athletes Chapters support.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

LOPEZ: My most memorable experience in college football was getting my first start against Colorado last year.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

LOPEZ: Oregon. They always have great athletes on offense and have and a quarterback who has been continuously talked about in the Heisman Trophy race for the last three years.

 What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?

LOPEZ: My major is business marketing and from that I have learned how to get in touch with the right people and how to network to spread the word when our chapter has events for Uplifting Athletes.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

LOPEZ: Every year it is a different player. But this year I think that I will be following Georgia running back Todd Gurley because he is a great back and is enjoyable to watch.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

LOPEZ: LeSean McCoy from the Philadelphia Eagles. He is on my favorite team, and he is the best running back in the NFL. He is so elusive and can not only run but can catch the ball out of the backfield as well.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

LOPEZ: Oregon because they have a crazy fan base and a nice stadium. That combination makes the game more fun and challenging.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?

LOPEZ: I look forward to getting my degree and then trying to apply to Nike. I would really enjoy doing some type of marketing job for them.