Leadership Development Conference ’18 featured a little bit of everything for nearly 40 college football student-athletes


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For nearly a decade, Uplifting Athletes has been bringing college football student-athletes leaders together for a weekend of training and development.

Last week nearly 40 student-athletes traveled to Atlanta for the 2018 Leadership Development Conference hosted by Uplifting Athletes and put together by Director of Chapter Development Brett Brackett.

“The 2018 Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference was a tremendous success. I left the conference energized by the focus and determination in this group of student-athletes,” Brackett said. “Despite their hectic lives they took time to develop leadership and transferable skills while learning how they can work with Uplifting Athletes to leverage their platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.”

Following a meet-and-greet dinner Friday night, the conference kicked off Saturday with a full day of programming Saturday that was driven by Uplifting Athletes four pillars – Uplifting Leaders, Uplifting Experiences, Rare Disease Awareness and Rare Disease Research.

One of the many highlights from the student-athlete’s perspective was the discussion with the panel of former student-athlete who are now professionals.

Eight former college student-athletes from the Atlanta area took on all questions about transitioning from college into the professional world.

“The best part of the weekend was having the former student-athlete panel. Being a student-athlete is a privilege and requires a tremendous amount of time and effort. But eventually football will end. We all need a plan of action when that happens,” Syracuse Chapter leader Nolan Cooney said. “Having the former athletes speak to us, was an incredible opportunity to hear from players that are now having incredible success in the corporate world.

“There was no sugar coating the conversation, it was powerful, funny and engaging. Having athletes from various schools, with totally different lives created a connection with everybody in the room.”

Uplifting Athletes Director of Strategic Development Rob Long is a former rare disease patient and college football player. Sharing his story allowed the student-athletes to develop a more personal connection to the cause prior to a visit to the Scottish Rite Hospital for an afternoon of visiting with rare disease patients.

Sunday began with a session on fundraising followed by a video review of Uplifting Athletes 2017.

The conference closed with Beth Nguyen, a NORD Rare Impact Award Honoree, sharing her story. Nguyen battles the rare disease Syringomyelia and is a mother, nurse, wife, patient advocate and leader.

A special thank you to all our supporters who made this conference possible. These young men are making a difference in the rare disease community with your help.

We asked a few of the student-athletes to provide us with some feedback, and what we received was not only helpful to us going forward, but it moved us.

So we are going to share the exact words of two attendees, Cooney and Trey Klock from Northwestern, about what Leadership Development Conference ’18 meant to them.

Uplifting Athletes: In your own words sum up your experience at the Leadership Development Conference and share something that moved or impacted you?

Cooney: This year’s Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference was an incredible opportunity to further my knowledge on what Uplifting Athletes does to not only impact the lives of rare disease patients but as well for the student-athletes. The conference was a great experience to meet and interact with athletes from other universities. Regardless of what school you attend, everybody was sharing very similar stories of their experiences as football players and as leaders of Uplifting Athletes. It is really special to be able to take our on-field competitiveness out of the equation and developed strong relationships with athletes that we play every fall. Uplifting Athletes is continuously growing and adding new chapters. With the new schools at the conference, it created a completely new element to my thinking and ideas. Some of the new chapters were brainstorming ideas that seemed unconventional to the traditional model, but I think that we can use in the future. Atlanta was a great city to host it in. It was really nice to get some heat, after a few weeks in the cold north. I saw a big difference in the conference from the past year in Philadelphia to this year in Atlanta. In Philadelphia, I was fairly new to Uplifting Athletes and I don’t know if I had the confidence to feel that I could make an impact. This year, I felt confident and collaborative. I very much enjoyed the structure of the conference this year. Moving around to the different rooms and touching on the various areas that Uplifting Athletes covers. Then going to the hospital was an experience that you rarely get to have. Typically you raise money and send it in without knowing much about where it is going. By going to the hospital, you are able to see directly where all of our efforts are going to go by interacting with children that are battling a rare disease.

Klock: It was an honor to represent Northwestern football with my teammate Peter Snodgrass at the annual Leadership Development Conference. I made a lot of new friends and enjoyed hearing about the efforts of the new chapters such as Alabama, Western Michigan, Davidson, Lehigh, and others. This was my third Leadership Development Conference and I continued to learn a lot about what we can do as student-athletes to raise awareness and money to fight rare diseases. I enjoyed meeting Brett Brackett and talking more with Scott (Shirley), Rob, and Andy (Shay). They are all exceptional men that have done some amazing things with Uplifting Athletes. I especially enjoyed visiting the children’s hospital and meeting a lot of young people that are facing some adversity right now. It made me realize how lucky I am to be able to play the great game of football. We also had the opportunity to hear from Beth Nguyen, a 2017 NORD Rare Impact Award Honoree. She is a mother, wife, nurse, patient, and advocate for the rare disease community. In 2012, Beth was given the diagnosis of Syringomyelia and she later created a task force (WSCTF) to increase understanding of the disease across all medical disciplines and to improve direct patient care. She also started a patient registry to drive research, has organized support groups, and developed of the first-ever advocacy models of care for both Syringomyelia and Chiari Malformation. Everyone was intrigued by her message and very respectful of her mission. As I reflect on the weekend, I am so thankful for every chance I get to wake up and make an impact on the world.

Uplifting Athletes: What was your favorite part or aspect of the weekend and explain why?

Cooney: The best part of the weekend was having the former athlete panel. Being a student-athlete is a privilege and requires a tremendous amount of time and effort. But eventually football will end, we all need a plan of action when that happens. Having the former athletes speak to us, was an incredible opportunity to hear from players that are now having incredible success in the corporate world. There was no sugar coating the conversation, it was powerful, funny and engaging. Having athletes from various schools, with totally different lives created a connection with everybody in the room. Everybody in the room has incredible competitiveness, and the former athletes are giving us the tools to harness that and use it on and off the field. Uplifting Athletes encourages athletes to make a difference in the community, use the power of sport to tackle rare diseases. But also use the power of sport in all different areas. To paraphrase something that was said that resonated with me was, after you graduate your identity as an athlete diminishes. Utilize being a student-athlete, to create opportunities and relationships that you’ll use your entire life. Another piece that stuck with me is when the panel was asked how much being an athlete translates to the working work. They responded with, look at the job description, teamwork, time management, dedication, ability to listen. Every one of these qualities is developed being an athlete. As the weekend progressed, I was constantly thinking about tasks and ideas I was ready to tackle. It re-energizes my enthusiasm to grow our chapter and make a difference.

Klock: Besides visiting the children’s hospital, my favorite part of the weekend was the former student-athlete Q&A session. We had the opportunity to hear from a player panel of former college student-athletes living in the Atlanta area. We asked a lot of questions about making the transition from college into the professional world. They were all very successful people and I learned a lot from it. The focus of the weekend was to learn more about the fight against rare diseases and develop a goal for our individual chapters, but I also really enjoyed learning about the “Uplifting Leaders” part, which consisted of tools and advice to prepare for life after football.

 

Annual Leadership Development Conference welcomes 36 college football student-athletes to Atlanta


LDC18 GRAPHICFor the ninth consecutive year, we will gather college football student-athletes for three days of education, training and networking during the 2018 Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

This year 36 current football players from 18 universities across the country will travel to Atlanta on Friday, January 26 to kick off a busy weekend of engaging work sessions, networking and relationship building.

“We are excited to provide the student-athletes with an opportunity to network with other bright minded leaders in college football,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Chapter Development Brett Brackett said. “Our goal is to grow their personal skill set and help them learn more about how to leverage their position as student-athletes to impact the rare disease community through Uplifting Athletes.”

Among the 18 schools that will be represented in Atlanta, six of those are prospective Uplifting Athletes Chapters. Defending National Champion Alabama, Minnesota, Temple, Davidson, Lehigh and Western Michigan have student-athletes attending for the first time.

Current Chapter leaders from Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Syracuse, Illinois, Saint Francis, Penn, Northwestern, Maryland, Princeton and Stony Brook will also be in attendance.

The 2018 Leadership Development Conference will kick off with a team meal Friday night prior to a full weekend agenda.

The conference content is developed and driven by the Uplifting Athletes staff, but will also feature a panel of former student-athletes answering questions about the transition to the professional world.

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday are an overview of Uplifting Athletes, Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive event planning and transferable life skills development.

The highlight of Saturday will be an Uplifting Experience for the student-athletes featuring a visit to the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital to interact with rare disease patients.

We are very excited to bring this group together to learn from each other, to strategize together and to foster the sense of teamwork that inspires us all.

 

Weekly Update: Northwestern “Cardiac Cats” become first FBS school in history to win three straight games in overtime with road victory at Nebraska


WEEK 10 GRAPHICThis Northwestern team has become known to it fans as the “Cardiac Cats” with very good reason.

For the third week in a row, head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad needed extra time to edge fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Nebraska in Lincoln.

With wins over Michigan State, in triple overtime, and Iowa at Ryan Field, Northwestern is now the first FBS program to ever record three consecutive overtime victories.

Against Nebraska, the Wildcats trailed by a touchdown deep into the fourth quarter before QB Clayton Thorson engineered a 13-play, 84-yard drive and scored on a 7-yard run with 5:03 to play. Thorson also scored on a QB sneak in overtime, then watched the Wildcats defense come up with a stop to seal the Wildcats’ fourth consecutive victory.

Penn came up with its signature win of the season, rallying from down four points late to edge fierce rival and fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Princeton in an Ivy League affair at Franklin Field.

The Quakers led most of the game before the Tigers exploded for 14 quick points in the fourth quarter to seize the lead. Penn QB Will Fischer-Colbrie engineered an impressive 80-yard scoring play, completing all three of his passes, to guide the Quakers to victory.

Fischer-Colbrie threw the winning TD pass inside the final two minutes, finished 15 of 18 for 202 yards and pair of touchdowns to grab the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week award.

Meet Penn State Chapter Co-President and Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

Florida State running back Cam Akers went for 199 yards and two scores on 22 totes to notch the Seminoles’ third win of the season with a triumph over fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Syracuse. And defending National Champion Clemson, who hosts FSU this week, used 279 total yards and three touchdowns from QB Kelley Bryant to hold off fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter NC State.

Once-beaten Notre Dame used a 24-point explosion in the second quarter to open up enough breathing room on Wake Forest to withstand a furious second-half rally by the Demon Deacons.

Fighting Irish QB Brandon Wimbush put on a show, rolling up 390 total yards (280 passing and 110 rushing) with three touchdowns to lead a Notre Dame offense that piled up 710 yards.

Stony Brook kept its magical season alive by winning for the seventh time in nine games by edging Albany in overtime at home. Joe Carbone hit Harrison Jackson with a 13-yard TD pass in the extra session to win it for the Seawolves. Carbone threw for 218 yards and a pair of scores on a day when the Stony Brook ground game was limited to only 79 yards.

WEEK 10 SCOREBOARD

Weekly Update: Notre Dame continues to climb in the polls after huge win over USC and Penn State stays unbeaten


WEEK 8 GRAPHICEver since losing a one-point game at home in Week 2 to undefeated Georgia, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have slowly ascended the ladder of national relevance.

Notre Dame won its fifth game in row and improved to 6-1 after clobbering previously No. 11 ranked USC in South Bend. The Irish amassed nearly 500 yards on the ground to bury the Trojans.

Running back Josh Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush combined for 297 of those yards on 33 carries and scored five of the Notre Dame touchdowns.

Notre Dame climbed to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 and is No. 10 in the Coaches Poll.

No. 2 ranked Penn State stayed undefeated and head coach James Franklin picked up his first victory over Michigan in the marquee match-up of Week 8.

Penn State’s offense piled up more than 500 yards of offense on the previously No. 1 ranked Michigan Wolverines defense. Quarterback Trace McSorley piled up 358 of those yards and accounted for four touchdowns and was honored as the Walter Camp FBS Offensive Player of the Week.

Senior linebacker Jason Cabinda had 13 tackles, a TFL and a sack to pace a defense that limited Michigan to fewer than 275 total yards. Penn State outscored Michigan 21-0 the second half.

Meet University of Pennsylvania Chapter President and Quakers linebacker Sam Follansbee in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

Princeton continues to score points at an alarming pace, scoring 50 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time since 1890 when famous poet Edgar Allen Poe was the captain of the Tigers football team.

Led by Tigers quarterback Chad Kanoff, who was 20-for-20 in the first half and finished with 421 passing yards, Princeton blew out Harvard by five touchdowns and is in the hunt for another Ivy League title.

Wide receiver Jesper Horsted had the third most receiving yards in school history, 246, on 13 catches. He also had a pair of TD receptions and threw a touchdown pass to snare the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of Week 8.

Quarterback Clayton Thorson plunged over from 1 yard out in overtime to propel Northwestern to its second victory in a row. The Wildcats edged Iowa in a defensive battle at home to get back to .500 in the Big Ten and are 4-3 overall.

Georgia Tech outscored Wake Forest 25-3 in the second half to rally from a four-point halftime deficit at home. The Yellowjackets’ duo of quarterback TaQuon Marshall and halfback KirVonte Benson combined to rush for 299 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries.

Colgate freshman quarterback Grant Breneman threw a pair of touchdown passes and rushed for two more as the Raiders thumped Holy Cross on the road. Breneman completed 16 of 24 passes for 222 yards and chipped in another 36 on the ground to account 258 of the Raiders’ 419 total yards. Colgate’s defense came up with four turnovers, including three interceptions, and limited Holy Cross to fewer than 300 total yards.

Fordham limited Georgetown to fewer than 250 yards and only one touchdown to register victory No. 2 of the season. Quarterback Luke Medlock threw for 258 yards and a score to pace the Rams offense.

WEEK 8 SCOREBOARD

 

 

Princeton WR Jesper Horsted lights up Harvard with 246 yards receiving and throws a TD pass to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week


HORSTED IMAGEPrinceton scored more than 50 points for the third consecutive week and remains squarely in the hunt for another Ivy League title after torching Harvard Friday night in front of a national television audience.

The Tigers offense has so many options at the disposal of QB Chad Kanoff, but at the top of the list is 6-4, 200-pound junior wide receiver Jesper Horsted.

A native of Minnesota who is a two-sport standout for Princeton, Horsted had 13 catches for 246 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions and also threw a two-yard TD pass to nail down the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honors.

Horsted, who leads the Ivy League in receptions this season, posted the third highest receiving yards total in school history with his performance against Harvard. He has 55 catches for 712 yards and eight touchdowns in six games.

As a member of the baseball team, Horsted finished third on the team in hitting last season with a .281 average and was an All-Ivy selection in football and baseball as a sophomore.

Previous Uplifting Athletes

Rare Performance of the Week Winners

Week 1: RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame

Week 2: QB Ryan Finley, NC State

Week 3: QB Trace McSorley, Penn State

Week 4: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Week 5: WR Ervin Philips, Syracuse

Week 6: QB Chad Kanoff, Princeton

Week 7: QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Weekly Update: No. 3 ranked Penn State hits its bye unbeaten and No. 2 Clemson starts 6-0 for third year in a row


week 6 chapter updatePenn State set itself up well for the upcoming bye week followed by the teeth of its 2017 schedule by dispatching of fellow Uplifting Athletes chapter Northwestern.

The defending Big Ten champion Nittany Lions remained undefeated and moved up to the consensus No. 3 team in the country by scoring the first 31 points on the road against the Wildcats.

Junior quarterback Trace McSorley broke a school record that dated back to 1994 by throwing 15 completions in a row – surpassing the previous mark of 14 by Kerry Collins. McSorley finished 25 of 34 for 245 yards and a touchdown against a Northwestern defense that sold out to limit big plays.

Penn State’s defense continues to be a difference maker, as the Nittany Lions came up with three more turnovers and limited the Wildcats to fewer than 70 yards rushing on 30 attempts.

NC State announced itself as a player in the ACC by winning its fifth game in a row. The Wolfpack took out previously No. 17 ranked Louisville at home on a nationally televised Thursday night game. NC State is now ranked No. 20 in the country.

The Wolfpack piled up more than 500 yards of offense and pulled off the rare offensive trifecta – QB passing for 300 yards, RB hitting 100 yards and a wideout surpassing 100 yards.

Meet Syracuse University Chapter President and Orange quarterback Zack Mahoney in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

Princeton overcame a sluggish start against Georgetown, surrendering the opening 10 points to the Hoyas. The next 50 points belonged to the Tigers and by the middle of third quarter the third win of the season for Princeton was secure.

Tigers QB Chad Kanoff continued his assault on the school passing records, moving up to second all-time after throwing for 313 yards and four touchdowns to grab the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

For the third season in a row defending National Champion Clemson Tigers started a season 6-0. QB Kelly Bryant left the game with an ankle injury but threw for 200 yards and a score before he departed.

Clemson led 28-0 before the Deamon Deacons put a couple scores on the board in the final 8 minutes. The Tigers won despite losing the turnover battle 2-0 and rolling up nine penalties for 79 yards.

Syracuse climbed back to .500 overall and in the ACC by holding off Pittsburgh at the Carrier Dome. The Orange dominated this game in every category except the scoreboard and ended up hanging on for dear life to get to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.

QB Eric Dungy paced an offense that total 500 yards by throwing for 365 yards and a couple touchdowns. Three wide receivers, Devin Butler, Ervin Philips and Ravian Pierce, each had at least seven catches and combined for 24 grabs. The Syracuse defense allowed only two touchdowns and less than 360 yards of total offense.

Facing some adversity at the quarterback position, Notre Dame rode a defense that forced three turnovers and limited struggling North Carolina to 265 total yards to post a comfortable three-score victory over the 1-5 Tar Heels.

The Irish turned to the ground game behind the combination of Josh Adams and Deon McIntosh. The duo combined for 242 yards on 25 carries with three touchdowns to power a rushing attack that totaled 341 yards and average 6.0 per carry.

WEEK 6 SCOREBOARD

Princeton Tigers QB Chad Kanoff continues assault on school passing records to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week


Princeton football vs. BrownPrinceton Tigers quarterback Chad Kanoff continued his assault on the school passing records by moving into second on the all-time passer list in a victory over Georgetown.

Kanoff completed 86.2 percent of his passes and threw four touchdown passes to help the Tigers shake off a sluggish start. His performance allowed the California native to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Kanoff completed 25 of 29 passes for 313 yards to give him 5,269 career passing yards. His four touchdown passes against the Hoyas covered 63, 13, 5 and 1 yards. The accuracy is nothing new for Kanoff this season. He’s averaging better than 70 percent and his NCAA QB rating is a stellar 162.4.

Becoming the all-time leading passer at Princeton is a long shot for Kanoff, but he has a chance. Doug Butler owns the record with 7,291 yards. Kanoff needs to average 337 yards per game over the final six contests. He’s averaged 308 yards per game so far this season.

Previous Player of the Week Winners

Week 1: RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame

Week 2: QB Ryan Finley, NC State

Week 3: QB Trace McSorley, Penn State

Week 4: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Week 5: WR Ervin Philips, Syracuse