Weekend in Harrisburg: 2014 Uplifting Athletes Leadership Retreat

Uplifting Athletes Chapter leaders from the Leadership Retreat in Harrisburg, Pa.

Uplifting Athletes Chapter leaders from the Leadership Retreat in Harrisburg, Pa.

You never know what will happen when you get nearly a dozen college football players together for a weekend.

Throw spaghetti, marshmallows and a Twitter scavenger hunt into the equation and the foundation for lasting relationships all in the name of helping others was laid.

The fifth Uplifting Athletes Leadership Retreat took place May 16-18 at Harrisburg University.

Current college football student athletes who chose to become leaders of their individual chapters from Penn State, Arizona, Ohio State, South Carolina, Illinois, Florida State, Nebraska and Clemson traveled to Pennsylvania’s capitol city for a weekend of networking and workshops.

“I’ve always been apt to help others and give back. When I heard about Uplifting Athletes, I just thought it would be a great thing to be a part of,” South Carolina redshirt freshman defensive end Devin Washington said. “These rare diseases are ones that not a lot of people know about. So we want to bring awareness to our rare disease, raise some research dollars, and spread the word all around the country about rare diseases.”

Most of these new chapter leaders are still learning the ropes about running a chapter of Uplifting Athletes. So the staff put the players through their paces in the areas of project management, branding and social media, telling your story and working with the media, event planning and utilizing resources at each individual university.

“I have to credit my mother for this. She put a good head on my shoulders. This is a great way to help someone we have a personal relationship with and has done so much for us,” Arizona redshirt senior defensive back Brendan Murphy said. “People with rare diseases don’t always have the means to help themselves. I want to be that guy to help give them a hand.”

LR SCAVENGERIn addition to the time spent in the classroom, the players had plenty of time to discover a new city, work in small groups and the Twitter scavenger hunt using the hashtag #UA Leadership produced some entertaining results.

The bottom line was this group of unique college football players made a personal choice to become an off-the-field leader on their team in order to lend their time and talents to a movement that is all about college football, but has nothing to do with college football.

“This is my senior season and I feel like I haven’t done enough to give back yet. I’d really like to be able to make a difference,” Ohio State defensive lineman Mike Bennett said. “I feel like I’ve built up my name enough that it can carry some weight. I think it would be a great thing to get our team behind, bring us closer and help someone out in the process.”

“If football is not my calling, I feel this is a great thing where you get to give back,” Clemson long snapper Jim Brown said. “And I love giving back. You get to help people and at the same time learn some unbelievable lessons about life.”

In addition to Brown, Bennett and Washington, Florida State tight end Kevin Haplea, Arizona defensive back Anthony Lopez, Penn State linebacker Ben Kline, South Carolina fullback Connor McLaurin, Nebraska linebacker Chris Weber and Illinois offensive lineman Joe Spencer participated in the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Leadership Retreat.


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