Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Colgate Chapter President and running back Triston Fairchild


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Triston Fairchild

College: Colgate University

Height, weight, class, position: 5-10, 205-pound, senior, running back

High School: Papillion Lavista South in Papillion, Neb.

About Triston: For three years Triston has been a reserve running back for the Raiders with limited carries. His biggest production for Colgate has been on special teams. His coach called him a player” who always gave his best effort and did everything to make us better.” After participating in the Colgate Lift For Life twice, Triston took on a leadership role for the second oldest chapter in the Uplifting Athletes network. He attended the 2019 Leadership Development Conference and armed with a commitment to support the Rare Disease Community helped guide the 2018 Patriot League Champion Raiders to a successful 2019 Lift For Life as the Chapter President.

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

FAIRCHILD: My most memorable experience was beating JMU in the 2018 FCS playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals. JMU was a strong team and we accomplished a lot for the program that year.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

FAIRCHILD: My immediate family has recently been affected by a rare disease, so I found that it was a great opportunity to use my platform as a college football player to help raise awareness and money for the cause.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

FAIRCHILD: Uplifting athletes has taught me that people care about the rare disease community and that when a program rallies together around a cause, change can be made for the betterment of those affected with a rare disease.

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

FAIRCHILD: I would tell them to trust the process, there are always kids who play early and then there are late-bloomers, and that’s alright. One thing you cannot do is give up your self-confidence as a player as you transition to an elite level of talent.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

FAIRCHILD: Christian McCaffrey because his running style is so balanced and he is a fluid runner. As a runningback, I admire the combination of speed, balance, and power that he brings to the table and because Marshawn Lynch retired.

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

FAIRCHILD: I would choose to have lunch with Mac Miller because he was a very influential artist and creative person, I feel like he would be a lot of fun and would be able to have good conversation.

TRISTON ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

FAIRCHILD: Thin crust meatlovers

All time favorite movie?

FAIRCHILD: A Bugs Life

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

FAIRCHILD: Which Wich

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

FAIRCHILD: New York Yankees

What is the most used app on your phone?

FAIRCHILD: Instagram

Meet the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team


Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team.

For 12 years, Uplifting Athletes has recognized a Rare Disease Champion. Starting in 2019, the focus of the Rare Disease Champion Award shifts from highlighting an individual leader in college football to a team concept that provides an opportunity to recognize leaders in college football that have made a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community. 

The five members of the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion team are: Kent State wide receiver Antwan Dixon, Davidson linebacker George Hatalowich, Syracuse offensive lineman Sam Heckel, Penn student assistant Anthony Lotti and Kentucky linebacker Josh Paschal.

Uplifting Athletes couldn’t be more proud to share these inspiring rare disease stories of leaders in college football.

“We feel strongly that our obligation to the Rare Disease Community is to share the powerful and compelling stories of people inside college football who have lived the rare disease journey, as patients and advocates,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “I believe this will be the start of a tradition recognizing those in college football who are inspiring, serving and supporting those who need it the most.”

The Rare Disease Champion Team powered by Sanofi Genzyme is an Uplifting Athletes awareness campaign that is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The Rare Disease Champion Team will be celebrated at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. on March 6, 2020 and at Uplifting Athletes’ Young Investigator Draft at Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia March 7, 2020.

Nominees for the award were solicited from any NCAA FBS, FCS, Division II or Division III institution or college football program nationwide.

Past Rare Disease Champion winners consist of seven FBS players including USC long snapper Jake Olson (2016), UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin (2018) and Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (2015), one FCS player, a Division III quarterback, an FBS assistant coach and an administrator from AFCA. 

Former Austin Peay State University Offensive Coordinator and current University of Kansas Assistant Coach Joshua Eargle was honored as the winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award last year.

The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935.

Chapter Update: Clemson makes college football history with fifth ACC crown and eight teams earn bowl invitations


Defending National Champion Clemson became the first team in college football history to win five consecutive conference championships when it overpowered Virginia in the ACC Championship game.

The Tigers extended their nation-best winning streak to 28 games and have now won 19 ACC championships and 25 overall championships in Clemson program history.

Led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Tee Higgins, Clemson scored the first five times it had the ball on its way to an ACC Championship game record 62 points and 619 total yards.

Higgins finished with three touchdown receptions and 182 receiving yards, each setting an ACC Championship Game record. With those three TD catches the junior tied Clemson’s all-time receiving touchdowns record with 27 and earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Lawrence set an ACC Championship game record with four touchdown passes. He finished with 302 passing yards and for the eighth consecutive game threw at least three TD passes.

Tigers running back Travis Etienne chipped in with 114 yards and a touchdown to eclipse 1,500 yards on the ground this season. It’s the second year in a row he went over the 1,500-yard mark, becoming the first player in program history to accomplish the feat.

For the fifth consecutive year the undefeated Tigers will participate in the College Football Playoff. Clemson was awarded the No. 3 seed and will face second-seeded Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on December 28 in one CFP semifinal.

The Tigers’ fifth CFP playoff appearance ties Alabama for the most appearances in the brief history of the four-team playoff.

Learn more about Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers in our Beyond The Trophy series

Baylor: Forced to use its second and third string quarterbacks, the Bears still took the Big 12 Championship game into overtime before falling to Oklahoma by a touchdown. Twice Baylor rallied from double-digit deficits to force extra time in its first appearance in the conference title game. After losing starting quarterback Charlie Brewer in the first half, the combination of redshirt freshman Gerry Bohanon and true freshman Jacob Zeno combined to throw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception to keep Baylor in the hunt. The Bears had a crack to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, moving inside the OU 20 before stalling and settled instead for John Mayers 27-yard field goal as the final points in regulation. Junior defensive lineman James Lynch had 2.0 sacks in the championship game, setting the Baylor single-season mark for sacks in a season with 12.5.

The Bears’ only losses this season came at the hands of College Football Playoff-bound Oklahoma. Baylor finished No. 7 overall in the rankings and earned an invitation to a New Year’s Six Bowl invite to the 86th playing of the Sugar Bowl. The Bears, who were 1-11 two years ago, will play No. 5 Georgia in New Orleans. This is the reward for a senior class that played under three different head coaches and lost 16 of 18 games during one stretch.

Penn State: For the first time since 1975 the Nittany Lions will play in the Cotton Bowl to commemorate the 50th bowl game appearance in program history. Penn State finished No. 10 in the final rankings and earned an invitation to play American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion and 17th ranked Memphis (12-1) in Dallas on December 28. This will be the Nittany Lions’ third New Year’s Six bowl appearance in the last four years under head coach James Franklin and the sixth straight season Penn State has been bowl eligible.

Illinois: Ending a five-year drought of making an appearance in a bowl game, the Fighting Illini earned the 19th bowl invitation in program history with a trip to the Bay Area. Illinois will play Cal from the Pac-12 in the Redbox Bowl on December 30. Although Illinois and Cal have played 10 previous times, this will be the first meeting in a bowl game.

Notre Dame: Coming off its third consecutive 10-win season, the Fighting Irish will play their 148th different opponent in program history when they face Iowa State from the Big 12 Conference in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on December 28. This is the ninth time in 10 years head coach Brian Kelly has taken Notre Dame to a bowl game and will mark appearance No. 36 in the postseason for the Fighting Irish.

Kent State: After winning their final three games just to reach six wins, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game for only the fourth time in program history and the first since 2013. Kent State will play Utah State from the Mountain West Conference in the Frisco Bowl on December 20 in Frisco, Texas. With wins over Buffalo, Ball State and Kent State, the Golden Flashes are the only FBS team to win their final three games of the season to become bowl eligible.

Western Michigan: For the third time in the last four years the Broncos are bowl bound. Western Michigan earned an invitation to the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on December 30 and will face 8-4 Western Kentucky from Conference USA. This is the 10th overall bowl appearance for Western Michigan since it earned its first bowl invitation in 1961.

Florida State: The Seminoles will appear in the postseason for an NCAA-best 38th time in the last 40 seasons after receiving an invitation to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on December 31. Florida State will play Arizona State from the Pac-12 for the fifth time in program history. The last time FSU played in the Sun Bowl was 1966 and the last time the Seminoles and Sun Devils squared off was 1984.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Will Spiers

College: Clemson University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-5, 225-pound, redshirt junior, punter

High School: Calhoun Academy in Cameron, S.C.

About Will: The former walk-on who played quarterback and punter in high school, Will is now in his third year as the Tigers’ No. 1 punter. An All-ACC Academic selection during his career who has averaged nearly 41 yards per kick, Will is having his best season ever in 2019. He’s averaging 42.3 yards per kick and his net average is above 40 yards per kick as well. He’s dropped nine punts inside the 20, has eight boots of more than 50 yards and has only two touchbacks. Will has served the Rare Disease Community for two years in a leadership position for the Clemson Chapter. He took over as the Chapter President in 2019 after attending the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2018 and 2019.

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

SPIERS: Playing in the 2018 College Football National Championship game.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIERS: The opportunity to be in a leadership role where the ultimate objective was to help others.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIERS: A lot about the Rare Disease Community and how our platform as college football players can have a big impact on them.

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

SPIERS: Never give up and learn how to work hard in every aspect of life.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

SPIERS: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He’s the GOAT.

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

SPIERS: LeBron James to learn about him as a person and a player.

WILL ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

SPIERS: Meat Lovers

All time favorite movie?

SPIERS: The Patriot

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

SPIERS: Chick-fil-A

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

SPIERS: Houston Astros

What is the most used app on your phone?

SPIERS: Instagram

Uplifting Athletes team expands with hiring of Baylor Chapter founder Levi Norwood as Chapter Success Manager


Uplifting Athletes is excited to welcome Levi Norwood to our team in the role of Chapter Success Manager.

Levi is a former student-athlete at Baylor where he played football and basketball. During his time at Baylor he was inspired by a high school classmate battling Cerebral Palsy and, in early 2014, founded the Baylor Uplifting Athletes Chapter.

His passion and commitment to the rare disease cause started more than a half-decade ago, so when the opportunity to dedicate himself full-time to the Rare Disease Community as a member of the Uplifting Athletes team materialized, Levi was excited for the chance to serve.

“Since my time as a student-athlete at Baylor, I have been involved with Uplifting Athletes. First while in grad school trying to get the Baylor chapter rolling again and then getting guys interested while working in the athletic department at New Mexico,” said Norwood, who was a Rare Disease Champion Award finalist in 2015. “When Brett (Brackett) brought up the idea of working full-time with Uplifting Athletes, for me it was a no brainer.”

At Uplifting Athletes, Levi will be responsible for overseeing the success of our nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters while working diligently to elevate the rare disease cause as a national priority through the organization’s mission.

“Uplifting Athletes is fortunate to add a valuable piece to our team with the hiring of Levi Norwood,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Levi brings a passion for the rare disease cause and a familiarity with the organization that will make for a seamless transition to his full-time position. His unique skill set and a high level of emotional intelligence make him a perfect addition to help move the organization onward and upward.”

Levi received his undergraduate degree in 2014 from Baylor University where he obtained a B.A. in Public Relations. He obtained his graduate degree, M.Ed. in Sport Management, in 2018.

On the football field at Baylor, Levi was a part of the winningest class in school history and helped Baylor win their first two Big 12 Conference Championships in 2013 and 2014. As the primary punt returner, he holds the school record for career punt return touchdowns (2) and as a receiver caught 128 passes and scored 11 touchdowns. He also has one career point for the Baylor Bears basketball team.

After his career at Baylor, Levi spent a short time in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Like many coaches’ kids, Levi does not consider one place home but currently resides in Waco, Texas. Prior to joining Uplifting Athletes as a full-time employee on November 18th, Levi worked in higher education at the University of New Mexico and most recently Baylor University.

Chapter Update: Penn State matches program standard with another 10-win season and seven teams post Week 14 victories


Penn State won for the 10th consecutive time at Beaver Stadium and, in the process of upending Rutgers on Senior Day, the Nittany Lions tied a double-digit victory standard for the program.

For the third time in four years Penn State has won at least 10 games. It marks the first time the Nittany Lions have accomplished three double-digit win seasons in a four-year span since 1993-1996.

Penn State has been stellar at home during this historic run – capping a third unbeaten slate at Beaver Stadium in the last four years. The last time that happened was 1972-1975.

Backup quarterback Will Levis made his first start and rushed for 108 yards. Running back Journey Brown chipped in with 103 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. The last time Penn State had a pair of 100-yard rushers was 2015 and the last time that combination was a QB and RB was 2005.

The Nittany Lions finished solo second in the Big Ten East behind undefeated Ohio State and are in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Baylor: Two years ago the Bears were a one-win team in head coach Matt Rhule’s first season in Waco. Their only victory in 2017 was on the road at Kansas. Two years later Baylor returned to Memorial Stadium in Lawrence and thumped the Jayhawks to complete a 1-11 to 11-1 turnaround and punched their ticket to the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. Baylor is the first Power 5 program to go from 1-11 to 11-1 in two years. In one of its most dominant conference victories in program history, the Bears rang up 264 yards on the ground, scored on five of their first six possessions and the defense produced six turnovers.

Clemson: The Tigers won their 27th game in a row, nailed down the eighth undefeated regular season in program history and third under head coach Dabo Swinney, by knocking off Palmetto State rival South Carolina. Junior running back Travis Etienne broke the ACC record for career rushing touchdowns with a three-yard blast in the fourth quarter for his 53rd career touchdown on the ground. His historic touchdown earned Etienne the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 18 consecutive passes against the Gamecocks to set a school record for consecutive completions, surpassing the previous mark of 15. The 18 straight completions also tied the ACC record for consecutive completions.

Learn more about Florida State Chapter President and linebacker DeCalon Brooks in our Beyond The Trophy series

Northwestern: The Wildcats used a powerful running game and a stingy defense to subdue Illinois and claim the Land of Lincoln Trophy for a program-record fifth time in a row. Northwestern posted 378 yards on the ground and eclipsed the 350-plus yard mark rushing for the first time since 2012. Senior defensive lineman Trent Goens had a career day in his final game with three tackles for a loss (TFL), a quarterback hurry (QBH) and a forced fumble. Only one Wildcat has replicated that stat line since 2000 – Malcolm Arrington in 2008. Goens also finished with six tackles, five of them solo stops, and a pass break-up to power a defense that limited the Fighting Illini to 160 total yards.

Notre Dame: Trailing by 10 points in the first half, the Fighting Irish ripped off 24 unanswered points to reach the 10-win plateau for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five years. Senior quarterback Ian Book became the first Fighting Irish in program history with 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes in a season. He also became the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in a game five times in the victory over Stanford. 

Syracuse: Sophomore defensive back Trill Williams ripped the ball from Wake Forest’s Kendall Hinton at the six and raced 94 yards to the end zone to secure a six-point overtime victory for the Orange at home. Syracuse scored first in OT on a 40-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons were on the move in extra time before Williams stepped in. Each team kicked a 40-plus yard field in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.

Kent State: For the first time since 2012, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game after posting their third consecutive win to reach 6-6 overall by taking out Eastern Michigan on Black Friday. This is only the fourth season Kent State in bowl eligible in the last 30 years. Jamal Parker put the Golden Flashes in the driver’s seat by returning the second-half kickoff 96 yards to give Kent State a three-score lead on the road. EMU pushed back and made it a one-score game in the fourth quarter before the Golden Flashes defense picked off a pass late to earn a bowl invitation for 2019. Junior quarterback Dustin Crum completed 68.3 percent of his passes this year and finished the regular season with an NCAA QB Rating of 155.97. Both those numbers are the best in Golden Flashes program history.

Illinois: The Illini held their 118th annual football banquet Sunday and Illinois Chapter President and tight end Bobby Walker was recognized for his work with Uplifting Athletes in receiving the Service Above Self Award. Despite the loss at home to Northwestern on Senior Day, the Fighting Illini finished 6-6 this year and are bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. Junior kicker James McCourtnailed a 50-yard field in the third quarter against the Wildcats to give him four field goals this season of 50 or more yards. Those four long-range kicks ties the Fighting Illini program record for number of 50-yard or longer field goals in a season.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Florida State Chapter President and linebacker DeCalon Brooks


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: DeCalon Brooks

College: Florida State University

Height, weight, class, position: 5-10, 209-pound, redshirt sophomore, linebacker

High School: Gaither High School in Tampa, Fla.

About DeCalon: Became an impact player for the Seminoles as a redshirt freshman in 2018 by appearing in 11 games and making seven starts. Earned ACC Linebacker of the Week for his stellar career day against Louisville. DeCalon is the son of Derrick Brooks, a member of the NFL and Florida State Hall of Fame. This season he has appeared in 11 games and has 15 tackles. When the FSU program went through a transition of leadership, DeCalon Brooks stepped forward and took a leadership role in helping Uplifting Athletes remain a part of the Seminoles’ program. The Tampa native attended the 2019 Leadership Development Conference and was inspired by the rare disease cause and the programming to make something happen. This summer Florida State held a Lift For Life after a one-year absence on the calendar and Brooks, the President of the FSU Chapter, played an instrumental role in making the event to support the Rare Disease Community happen.

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

BROOKS: Getting my first sack against Louisville in 2018.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

BROOKS: I wanted to join when I heard Uplifting Athlete helps fund research for diseases and it is a great way to serve the community and collaborate with different teams.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

BROOKS: I learned it is really bigger than football and that we can use our platform to better other people’s lives.

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

BROOKS: I would tell them if they didn’t play a down of football, what college would they go to? Because you are going to spend the next 3-4 years of your life at college. So you want to make sure that university will better you academically, athletically and as a man.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

BROOKS: Von Miller is one of my favorite players. He has a lot of passion for the game and it shows on the field.

DECALON ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

BROOKS: Pepperoni

All time favorite movie?

BROOKS: New Jack City

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

BROOKS: Whataburger

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

BROOKS: In basketball it’s the Heat, and in football the Bucs

What is the most used app on your phone?

BROOKS: Snapchat