Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.
College: Florida State University
Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 245 pounds, senior, tight end
High School: North Hunterdon, Annandale, New Jersey
About Kevin Haplea: President and founder of the newly formed Uplifting Athletes chapter at Florida State, Haplea enrolled at Penn State in January 2010 and was one of seven true freshmen to play that fall. He appeared in every game and made three starts for the Nittany Lions. Played in every game as a sophomore at Penn State in 2011. Transferred to Florida State in between his sophomore and junior year, and last season and saw action in all 13 games. Was mostly used as a blocking TE and on special teams. Was all set to become more involved in the FSU offense this season following a strong showing during spring practice. But Haplea suffered an off-season knee injury and will miss the 2013 campaign. However, the senior will use his redshirt and still has one year of eligibility remaining.
As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?
Haplea: I’d say my favorite parts about game day here at Florida State would have to be Chief Osceola and Renegade planting the spear at midfield, and the War Chant. I think that those are two of the greatest traditions in all of college football and it’s really something I think everyone should experience because there really is nothing like it. They both symbolize the great warrior tradition of the Seminoles and we always carry that same mentality onto the field, playing with “The way of the Warrior”.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
Haplea: My most memorable experience as a college football player was winning the Atlantic Coast Conference and Orange Bowl last year. Winning a conference championship is a great accomplishment and a BCS bowl win along with that really made for a special year.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?
Haplea: I have been around and familiar with Uplifting Athletes for three years, having participated in three Lift for Life events. It is a great cause and gives athletes a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and use their position as public figures to benefit others. I am honored and very excited to be able to continue that experience as well as give the opportunity to my teammates here at Florida State.
What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?
Haplea: We have really started to develop a rivalry with Clemson. On top of being in the same conference, we are division rivals and the past several years the winner of our game has represented our division in the ACC Championship. They are always very talented and we know we need to be at our best to beat them.
What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?
Haplea: I am a Social Science major with a concentration on Public Administration. Public Administration is at it’s core about implementing government policy and service to the public. So there naturally is a connection as Uplifting Athletes is an organization that serves those affected with rare diseases, and it has it’s own mission and values that guides how they operate. I am really excited about coming up with ways to create even more opportunities for Uplifting Athletes.
In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?
Haplea: In life after football, I definitely look forward to where ever I end up because I know that I will be somehow involved in helping others. I come from a family that has great military and law enforcement history and it has always been very much in my nature to serve others. I have always had people in my life that made sacrifices for to help me succeed and it really helped show me the importance and value of effecting people in positive ways.
Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?
Haplea: I’m not sure who my favorite college player to watch is but I like watching tight ends play when I turn on games.
Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
Haplea: My favorite NFL player of all time would have to be Michael Strahan. I’m a lifelong Giants fan and growing up I also played defensive end so he was a huge idol of mine. My favorite current NFL player is Victor Cruz.
What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?
Haplea: The inspiration for our Uplifting Athletes Chapter at Florida State is our head coach Jimbo Fisher’s son Ethan, who is fighting Fanconi Anemia. I thought it was a situation that made perfect sense not only to help spread Uplifting Athletes Chapter’s across the country, but because for us its a cause that really hits home with our head coach directly being affected.
What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?
Haplea: I really liked playing at Miami. It’s an intense in state rivalry with a lot of history and great players that have played in it. It’s also a professional stadium and its packed when we go down there so the atmosphere combined with the history of the rivalry makes it really unique.