Beyond The Finalist: Get to know University of Illinois offensive lineman Nick Allegretti


ALLEGRETTI 1819 FINALIST GRAPHICThe Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), is given annually to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community.

We afforded each finalist for the 11th Rare Disease Champion Award the opportunity to be featured in our Beyond The Finalist series.

Name: Nick Allegretti

University: University of Illinois

Position: Offensive Line

What about your journey do you always make sure to share when telling your story?

Allegretti: When my brother was diagnosed with his rare disease, I was extremely scared to hear the word cancer and as a young child and I was afraid of all of the negative things that would come with it. However, the doctors and my parents assured me that the treatment plan would get rid of his tumor and there would be nothing to worry about. I believed in this and after years of battling my brother was cured. As a naïve child I believed that this was how all illnesses worked and I did not realize that many people were turned away without a treatment plan. When I realized this, I finally understood how important the work that Uplifting Athletes is doing was to the Rare Disease Community and I knew that I had to help in any way possible.

Can you tell us your ‘welcome to college football (either as a player or coach) moment’?

Allegretti: I can remember the first time we had “optional workouts” over my first summer. In high school I played many sports and had multiple extra curriculars that would conflict with certain sports optional workouts. As a college athlete you have school and then football, and if it’s not class…it’s not a conflict.

What is the one piece of advice or encouragement that’s stuck with you over time? Who gave it to you and what is it?

Allegretti: As a true freshman we were playing a game at Nebraska, which is an electric environment and I remember our offensive coordinator, Bill Cubit, telling us before the game to enjoy the moment and realize the magnitude of the event. From that game on I always tried to take a few seconds out of every game to truly understand how special playing college football is and how much it has meant to me.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Allegretti: Four Brothers – It is a movie about a group of four adopted brothers trying to avenge their mother’s death. I have probably seen some better movies before, but the connection that the brothers share is similar to the relationship that I have with my brother. And the family aspect of the movie, although quite violent, is one of a kind.

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

Allegretti: Alexander Hamilton – He is one of the founding fathers of our country and the first ever Secretary of Treasury and is largely responsible for the beginning of our country’s monetary system. As a coin collector that would go on the study and collect this system, I am very appreciative.

Your favorite aspect of being a part of college football?

Allegretti: My favorite part about being a college football player is the camaraderie that is built with your teammates. When you commit to a university, you usually know very few players and their backgrounds but by the end of your time you have built hundreds of relationships with people you never would have met without college football. And a lot of these relationships will last for life.

Last few songs you downloaded?

Allegretti: My Top 5 songs: The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band; It’s a Great Day to Be Alive – Travis Tritt; In Color – Jamie Johnson; Watching You – Rodney Atkins; Springsteen – Eric Church

What would winning the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award mean to you?

Allegretti: Winning this award would mean the world to me. From working with uplifting athletes over the past four years I have met some incredible people and heard some unbelievable stories within the organization. I have also learned how helpful Uplifting Athletes is for the Rare Disease Community and how important it is to spread the word to continue battling rare diseases. To be able to represent this organization and community as the Rare Disease Champion would be an incredible honor.

For Seattle Seahawks WR Malik Turner the rare disease cause is personal


Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver Malik Turner is passionate about the rare disease cause.

He took part in Lift For Life as a member of the Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Turner also supported his cause by participating in the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases campaign for his NFL Pro Day.

It was during his Reps For Rare Diseases campaign that Turner made the connection that one of his University of Illinois classmates, Holt Erikson, was a rare disease patient. Once he learned more about Holt’s story, Turner felt a deeper connection to his friend.  The rare disease cause became personal.

“What draws me closer to the rare disease cause is personally connecting with someone that has gone through the struggle,” Turner said. “That definitely drew me closer to it.”

MALIK 2

 

That deep and personal relationship moved Turner to do everything in his power to use his platform as an elite athlete to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.

And Turner was not going to let an injury derail his commitment to making a difference for the Rare Disease Community.

Two weeks prior to his Pro Day workout Turner suffered a fracture in his foot. That injury meant he would not be able to participate in the biggest workout of his life.

Turner felt compelled, though, to honor his commitment to the rare disease cause and on his Pro Day still participated in the bench press. With his friend Holt on his mind, Turner went out and beat his bench press goal by one repetition despite being injured.

MALIK 1When he made it to the NFL, Turner wanted to continue that deeply personal 1-on-1 relationship with those battling rare diseases.

Once Turner secured a spot on the Seahawks roster, he almost immediately started looking for ways to do even more to support his cause. Working together, Turner and Uplifting Athletes teamed up to host an Uplifting Experience for a rare disease patient family in the greater Seattle area.

Earlier this month Turner hosted ADNP patient Tony Sermone, his twin brother Rocco and Tony’s parents, Sandra and Rich at the Seattle Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center for several hours.

They toured the Seahawks locker room, interacted with other Seattle players, worked out on the practice field together and Turner walked them through a day in the life of an NFL player.

It was during this experience that Turner was able to show his passion for the rare disease cause – unveiling the cleats he will wear for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign during this Sunday’s game at home against San Francisco.

MALIK CLEATS

Above the Seattle skyline painted on the on the back of his right cleat, are the initials “T” and “S” in Tony’s honor. The initials “H” and “E” are on the back of left cleat above the block “I” University Illinois logo to honor Holt.

“I needed to be more aware of exactly what rare means and how it’s not funded and needs more attention. Connecting to Holt and Tony made me want to dig deeper,” Turner said. “I didn’t know whom I impacted and when I saw that … it impacted me.

“Those little things that are bigger than me and bigger than football is something that’s important to me.”

Turner has chosen the Rare Disease Community as his cause and is supporting Uplifting Athletes during the NFL My Cause My Cleats campaign.

He is asking you to support his cause by making a donation through his Tackle Rare Diseases campaign.

The proceeds raised by Turner’s My Cause My Cleats campaign supports the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

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Notre Dame sends 12-0 resume to College Football Playoff committee highlights Week 13 Chapter Update


NOTRE DAME LEADNotre Dame submitted its resume to the College Football Playoff committee unblemished after rallying from a season-high 10-point deficit on the road to edge USC and finish the regular season 12-0.

This marks the third time since 1998 Notre Dame has finished the regular season 12-0. The Fighting Irish, an NCAA Independent university, is looking to be part of the College Football Playoff for the first time.

USC raced to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter before Notre Dame reeled off 24 unanswered points, capped by quarterback Ian Book’s 51-yard catch-and-run screen pass to running back Tony Jones Jr with 3:09 to play to make it a two-score game. It was Jones’ first career touchdown.

Book threw for a career-high 352 yards to rally the Irish. The Notre Dame defense stood tall in the second half, surrendering only a late fourth-quarter touchdown and limiting the Trojans to 154 total yards.

Baylor: One year after the Bears went 1-11 under new head coach Matt Ruhle, Baylor became bowl eligible by rallying to upend Texas Tech in Arlington at AT&T Stadium. Baylor outscored Texas Tech 21-7 in the second half to erase a three-point halftime deficit. Quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns and added a 1-yard rushing touchdown on the first possession of the second half to put the Bears ahead for good.

NC State: The Wolfpack used a school-record tying five touchdowns from senior running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. to post a come-from-behind overtime victory over rival North Carolina. It was the third time in a row NC State beat the Tar Heels. Gallaspy, who scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter and punched it over from 1-yard out in overtime to win it, also had a career-high 129 yards on the ground.

NC State running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. tied a school record with five touchdowns and had a career-high 129 yards to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor.

Penn State: On senior day at Beaver Stadium it was the Nittany Lions’ young defense that stood out in a 35-point victory over the Terrapins. Penn State’s defense limited Maryland to a field goal and less than 100 yards rushing. The Nittany Lions also recorded 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage – the most by Penn State in a Big Ten game since 2007. Sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos had a career-high 3.5 tackles for a loss giving him 20 on the season, becoming the 12th PSU player to reach 20 TFL’s but the first since 2008 (Aaron Maybin). Gross-Matos has recorded at least 1 TFL in 8 straight games.

Northwestern: The Wildcats completed a perfect regular season against Big Ten West foes by edging Illinois on Senior Day at Ryan Field. Northwestern will play Ohio State Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game. The win over the Illini gave the ‘Cats their 11th-straight victory versus West Division foes and Northwestern earned its 15th win in its last 16 Big Ten games, matching the best 16-game conference stretch in program history.

Syracuse: Quarterback Eric Dungey accounted for nearly 400 yards of total offense and was responsible for a career-high six touchdowns in the road victory at Boston College. The win gave the Orange nine regular-season victories, program’s most since the 2001 season. This was the eighth time Syracuse has scored 40 or more points this season. Those six touchdowns, three rushing and three passing, give Dungey 32 for the season, surpassing the school-record of 30 set by Donovan McNabb in 1998.

Clemson: The Tigers, set to play Pitt in the ACC Championship game, posted the highest total yards ever against South Carolina with 744 to finish the regular season 12-0. Clemson also went for more than 300 yards rushing and passing for the first time ever against the Gamecocks. The Tigers also set a record with three drives of 95 or more yards, the first time that’s ever happened in program history.

Chapter Scoreboard Week 13

 

 

 

NC State running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. ties school record with five rushing touchdowns to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor


GALLASPY RPOW GRAPHICNC State senior running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. had a career day against rival North Carolina to power the Wolfpack past the Tar Heels.

Gallaspy became only the third NC State running back to record five rushing touchdowns in a game and posted a career-high 129 yards as well.

His fourth and fifth touchdowns came in the fourth quarter and overtime, respectively, to rally NC State to victory and earned Gallaspy the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Gallaspy’s five touchdowns, covering 34, 5, 4 and 1 (twice) yards tied the NC State records of T.A. McLendon (2002) and Stan Fritts (1972) for most rushing touchdowns in a single game.

NC State trailed North Carolina 28-21 in the fourth quarter before the Wolfpack quickly marched 74 yards in four plays, capped by Gallaspy’s fourth touchdown of the day from five yards out to force overtime.

After UNC missed a field goal to start overtime, Gallaspy carried six times in a 7-play drive and accounted for 20 of the 25 yards to seal the Wolfpack’s eighth victory in 2018.

Gallaspy’s five touchdowns against UNC gives him 16 on the season and ties him second-most in a single season in school history. Only McLendon (18 in 2002) has had more.

Previous Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week Winners

Week 1: Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 2: William Wicks, Davidson

Week 3: Davidson Wildcats Team

Week 4: Jesper Horsted, Princeton

Week 5: Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

Week 6: John Lovett, Princeton

Week 7: Flynn Nagel, Northwestern

Week 8: Shaka Toney, Penn State

Week 9: Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 10: Nick Rinella, Saint Francis

Week 11: Colgate Defense

Week 12: John Lovett, Princeton

Special day on campus for Princeton-Penn rivalry game involves Rare Disease Community


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You could feel the electricity in the air Saturday on campus as the Princeton football team prepared to host rival Penn in the final game of the season.

The Tigers were on the cusp of an undefeated season and claiming the Ivy League championship.

Saturday was also a special day for the Rare Disease Community inside Princeton Stadium.

The leaders of the Uplifting Athletes chapters at each university picked this match-up to serve as a Rare Disease Awareness Game to show their ongoing support for the rare disease cause.

Players from each team wore Uplifting Athletes stickers on their helmets and pulled on blue #WeTackleRare wristbands in a show of unified support for the Rare Disease Community each chapter champions.

And with the help of Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long and Director Sports Impact Brett Brackett, the Masciantonio family from The For The Love Of Grace Foundation was able to attend their first college football game together.

It was a busy Saturday in Princeton, New Jersey.

Gianna Masciantonio is a 4-year-old rare disease patient who is diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. Her parents, Joe and Kristen, started the For The Love Of Grace Foundation in honor of their daughter.

“We wanted to help others in the same situation,” Kristen Masciantonio said. “We give 100 percent of what we raise to research and to help families. We don’t have any overhead. I mean, who can you not help other families, right?”

In between the first and second quarters Gianna, her older brother Dominic, Joe and Kristen and Uplifting Athletes staff were recognized on the field as an extension of the hard work Princeton and Penn football programs put forth to support the Rare Disease Community.

“People just don’t fully understand what families like ours and others like ours go through,” Kristen Masciantonio said. “This is an important part of the support we need to feel. Support is important.”

Princeton went on to beat Penn to complete their perfect season and hoist the trophy as Ivy League champions. On the field they are competitors, but off the field the Tigers and Quakers football student-athletes share a common bond of shining a spotlight on the Rare Disease Community.

Thank you to the athletic departments at Princeton and Penn for supporting the football student-athletes of each chapter to make this a special day that extends well beyond 60 minutes of football.

 

 

Princeton Tigers complete perfect season highlights Week 12 Chapter Update


PRINCETON GRAPHICPrinceton finished off its first perfect season since 1964 and earned the 2018 Ivy League title with a victory over rival Penn in front of nearly 8,000 fans.

The victory clinched the fourth outright Ivy League title in program history, and the first since 1995. It was also the program’s second 7-0 Ivy season since league play officially began in 1956.

Princeton raced out to a 21-0 lead before Penn battled back with a score just before the half and on its opening possession of the third quarter to slice the deficit to 21-14.

The second touchdown of the game made the 2018 Princeton Tigers the highest scoring offense in Ivy League history. Princeton finished the season with 470 points, surpassing the previous record of 437 points, set by the 2013 Tigers Ivy League championship team.

Teams from the Ivy League are not eligible for the NCAA FCS playoffs. Princeton ended the regular season as the second-ranked scoring offense, the third-ranked total offense and the sixth-ranked rushing offense in the FCS.

Princeton QB John Lovett put up nearly 400 yards of offense and set an Ivy League record to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor

Colgate: For the first time since 2003, the Raiders will host a home playoff game. Colgate dropped its regular-season finale with now nationally ranked Army by two touchdowns. But the 9-1 Patriot League champion Raiders earned a No. 8 seed from the NCAA FCS football playoff committee. Colgate has a bye in the first round and will host the winner of James Madison vs. Delaware at Andy Kerr Stadium on December 1.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish took a huge step toward securing a berth in the College Football Playoff behind a defense that stymied No. 12 Syracuse at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame limited an Orange offense that had been averaging nearly 500 yards and 44 points a game to less than 250 yards and a late field goal. The Irish D posted three interceptions, six sacks and had 11 tackles for a loss. Notre Dame is 11-0 and closes the regular season with a road game at USC.

Clemson: Despite a slow start offensively, the undefeated Tigers continued their march toward another ACC title and berth in the College Football Playoff with a victory over Duke. Clemson fell behind 6-0, then rallied with a pair of touchdowns in the second and third quarters. Running back Travis Etienne put the game away with touchdown runs of 27 and 29 yards in the third quarter.

Davidson: With four straight losses by a touchdown or less, the Wildcats found themselves in another tight battle with Butler down the stretch. Of those four losses, one game in double overtime and the other three Davidson had the lead with 4:00 to play. The Wildcats defense came up huge this time, stopping Butler four times from inside the 5-yard-line in the final minute for an epic goal-line stand. The victory allowed Davidson to finish 6-5 overall and post its first winning season since 2007.

Northwestern: The Big Ten West champion Wildcats used three rushing touchdowns to subdue Minnesota and in the process earned road victory No. 8 in a row for Northwestern. The Wildcats also improved to 7-1 in conference play for the first time since 1996.

Penn State: Freshman tight end Pat Friermuth caught a pair of touchdown passes and the Nittany Lions defense came up with three takeaways to power No. 15 PSU past Rutgers. The win was No. 30 for senior quarterback Trace McSorley, giving him the school record for victories. In addition, McSorley became just third quarterback in Big Ten history to surpass 100 career touchdowns responsible for, joining Drew Brees (Purdue) and J.T. Barrett (Ohio State) as the only Big Ten quarterbacks to accomplish the feat.

Lehigh: In the 154th meeting with rival Lafayette, the Mountain Hawks used a fast start to grab a 17-0 lead before the game was nine minutes old and never looked back. The Lehigh defense limited Lafayette to 234 total yards and its fewest points since beating Georgetown 35-3 in 2016.

NC State: The Wolfpack scored a season-high 52 points and put up the most points in an ACC road game since they scored 55 at Duke in 2001. NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon had seven catches for 100 yards and touchdown. Harmon, a junior from New Jersey, went over 1,000 yards receiving for the second straight season. He is only the third player in school history (Torry Holt, Jerricho Cotchery) to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving twice in his career.

Fordham: Led by defense that improved as the season went along, the Rams closed out the season with a road victory. Antonio Jackson picked off a pass for Fordham and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown just before halftime to put the Rams ahead for good in this low-scoring affair.

Florida State: The Seminoles snapped a three-game losing streak in dramatic fashion by using a big play in the final 2 minutes to rally past No. 22 Boston College at home. FSU quarterback Deondre Francois hit Tamorrion Terry with a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 1:49 to play to put the Seminoles in front for good. This was the Seminoles first win over a ranked opponent since the 2016 Orange Bowl victory against Michigan.

Chapter Scoreboard Week 12 v.'18

 

Nearly 400 yards of offense and Ivy League record earns Princeton QB John Lovett Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week award


LOVETT RPOW GRAPHICThere was a lot on the line Saturday for the Princeton Tigers when they squared off with rival Penn in the final game of the season.

Senior quarterback John Lovett made sure the Tigers reached their goal of a perfect 10-0 season with a stellar record-setting performance against the Quakers.

Lovett put up 378 total yards of offense and accounted for 4 touchdowns in the 42-14 win. His 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter marked his 20th straight game with a rushing touchdown to set an Ivy League record and earned Lovett the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Lovett completed 20 of 28 passes for 255 yards with three touchdowns through the air. He also led the Tigers in rushing with 123 yards on 20 carries and that lone touchdown that gave him the Ivy League record.

Princeton raced out to a 21-0 lead before Penn battled back and sliced the deficit to 21-14 early in the third quarter. Lovett responded by throwing his third touchdown pass of the day to Jesper Horsted and then capped his day with the 5-yard touchdown run to restore the 21-point cushion.

Previous Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week Winners

Week 1: Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 2: William Wicks, Davidson

Week 3: Davidson Wildcats Team

Week 4: Jesper Horsted, Princeton

Week 5: Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

Week 6: John Lovett, Princeton

Week 7: Flynn Nagel, Northwestern

Week 8: Shaka Toney, Penn State

Week 9: Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 10: Nick Rinella, Saint Francis

Week 11: Colgate Defense