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: Stony Brook runs past Lehigh in NCAA FCS postseason opener and Northwestern wins seventh in a row


WEEK 13 GRAPHICStony Brook was making its third appearance in the NCAA FCS College Football Playoffs, and in each of the previous two postseason visits, in 2011 and 2012, the Seawolves won their opener.

Make it 3-for-3 in first round games as Stony Brook used a punishing ground game that piled up 354 yards to overwhelm Patriot League co-champion Lehigh at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Donald Liotine, Stacey Bedell and Jordan Gowins combined for 38 of Stony Brook’s 49 rushing attempts. The trio totaled 274 yards on the ground with five touchdowns, led by Liotine’s 133 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

Next up for the Seawolves, who rang up 622 total yards in posting their sixth win a row, is a visit to defending NCAA FCS champion James Madison Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

Northwestern wrapped up a nine-win regular season by steamrolling Illinois. The victory was the seventh in a row for the Wildcats and will earn head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad a tasty bowl bid. Led by 144 yards rushing from Uplifting Athletes Co-Rare Performance of the Week honoree Justin Jackson, the Wildcats pounded out more than 300 yards on the ground.

Florida State rolled past in-state rival Florida to get within one victory of being bowl eligible. The Seminoles used a pair of defensive touchdowns to subdue the Gators in a defensive battle where the teams combined for fewer than 500 yards.

Penn State finished with 10 regular-season victories for the second year in a row with a convincing road victory at Maryland. The Nittany Lions spread the wealth around offensively, led by more than 250 total yards and three touchdowns from Uplifting Athletes Co-Rare Performance of the Week honoree QB Trace McSorley.

Clemson is heading back to the ACC title game and is one victory shy of a third consecutive trip to the College Football Playoffs after rolling rival South Carolina in the Palmetto State Bowl. The Tigers raced out to a 34-0 advantage after three quarters behind 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns from QB Kelly Bryant.

NC State RB Nyheim Hines had a career-best 196 yards on the ground to power the Wolfpack past North Carolina to finish the regular season 8-4 overall and set themselves up well in the ACC pecking order in terms of a bowl bid with a 6-2 conference record.

WEEK 13 SCOREBOARD

 

Weekly Update: Late rally provides Nebraska with a huge comeback victory and Northwestern wins in OT for second week in a row


WEEK 9 GRAPHICNebraska quarterback Tanner Lee and the Cornhuskers were staring at the abyss of a lost season when they trailed Purdue by two scores in the fourth quarter.

Lee came up with a monster fourth quarter and the Nebraska defense shut down the Boilermakers in the final 12 minutes and the Huskers came away with a one-point victory to get back to .500 at 4-4 overall.

Down five points, Lee marched Nebraska down the field with an 8-play, 70-yard drive in 68 seconds. His final pass was a 13-yard touchdown to Stanley Morgan Jr. with 14 ticks left. Lee finished with 431 yards on 50 attempts with a pair of touchdowns.

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson completed a career-best 33 passes and threw for 356 yards as the Wildcats won in overtime for the second week in a row. Thorson earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week for his big day that included the winning TD pass in the third overtime.

Stony Brook remains a player in the chase for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title after a clutch road victory at Richmond to improve to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the CAA. Seawolves WR Ray Bolden had 13 catches for 118 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns including the game winner early in the fourth quarter.

Meet Penn State Chapter Co-President and Nittany Lions LB Jason Cabinda in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

Maryland has battled through a rash of injuries at key skill positions and is still battling for a bowl bid after rallying from five-points down to edge Indiana and improve to 4-4 overall. Trailing 16-7 midway through the second quarter, Darnell Savage Jr. provides the spark Maryland needed by returning a blocked punt 16 yards for a touchdown.

Defending National Champion Clemson used 274 total yards from quarterback Kelley Bryant and the Tigers defense held a strong Georgia Tech rushing attack to less than 200 yards in a 14-point victory.

Notre Dame entered the College Football Playoff conversation by winning its sixth game in a row against a strong NC State squad that came in with one loss and was also nationally ranked. After the Fighting Irish fell behind 14-7 in the first quarter, the Notre Dame defense shut down the Wolfpack offense. The Irish scored the final 28 points.

The UPenn defense limited Brown to 10 first downs and 203 total yards to pick up its third win of the season with a 10-point road victory.

Colgate freshman quarterback Grant Breneman threw a trio of touchdown passes and the Raiders defense forced three turnovers and didn’t allow a touchdown as Colgate won its fifth game.

Sparked by a defense that limited Robert Morris to less than 150 yards, Saint Francis won its fifth game of the season by scoring on a 93-yard interception return and a 35-yard punt return to post the home victory.

CHAPTER 9 SCOREBOARD

Weekly Update: Huge upset for Syracuse of previously No. 2 ranked Clemson and NC State continues to rise


week 7 chapter updateSo Friday the 13th did prove to be something of a nightmare for a couple of Top 10 college football teams and served as a foreshadow of the weekend that was Week 7 of the 2017 season.

Syracuse coach Dino Babers picked up his signature victory as the Orange head coach in his second season in upstate New York after unranked Syracuse edged defending college football National Champion Clemson inside the Carrier Dome.

The previously No. 1 ranked Tigers suffered only their second loss against an unranked opponent in their last 51 attempts.

Led by quarterback Eric Dungey, who earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week, Syracuse scored 27 points against a Clemson defense that held five of its previous six opponents to two or fewer touchdowns.

This was only the third loss for Clemson in its last 34 games dating back to the start of the 2015 season. The Tigers still control their own destiny, though. Remember, last year the Tigers lost to Pittsburgh during the regular season and still went on to claim the ACC and National titles.

Following the historic victory for the Orange, it was Clemson coach Dabo Swinney who stole the show. The Tigers’ skipper was extremely gracious in defeat.

Swinney was clearly happy for Babers after the game, seen mouthing “I’m so happy for you guys” to the Orange coach during the postgame handshake. And later he went into the Syracuse lockerroom to personally congratulate some of the players and even posed for pictures with them.

Meet University of Illinois Chapter President and Fighting Illini starting offensive lineman Nick Allegretti in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

It depends on the rankings, but at least three and in one case four of the Top 10 teams in the country lost in Week 7 including Clemson, Washington, Washington State and Auburn.

One of the teams on trending the other direction is the NC State Wolfpack, who improved to 6-1 after using a strong finish to close out Pittsburgh.

NC State is ranked inside the Top 20 (T16 in the AP and No. 17 in the coaches poll) for the first time since Week 2 of the 2003 season. That year the Wolpack were No. 14 overall before losing a road game at Wake Forest.

The Wolfpack are on a bye this week after notching win No. 6 in a row after losing to South Carolina in their opener. But a pair of elite programs, Notre Dame and Clemson, are on deck for NC State to close out October.

Coming off a tough home loss to undefeated defending Big Ten Champion Penn State, the Northwestern Wildcats clawed back to .500 on the strength of a strong second half to subdue Maryland.

RB Justin Jackson had a season-high 171 yards and a couple scores to go along with nearly 300 yards passing from QB Clayton Thorson to power the Wildcats.

Colgate used a season-high 166 yards and a touchdown from RB James Holland to overpower Fordham at home. The Raiders defense came up big too, limiting the Rams to only 64 rushing yards on 31 carries.

For the second week in a row Princeton cleared the 50-point barrier and improved to 4-1 overall. The Tigers outgained Brown 538-170 overall and led 36-0 at halftime.

Saint Francis QB Ben Fenimore tossed three touchdown passes for a Red Flash team that led 17-0 at intermission and improved to 2-0 in the NEC.

Stony Brook scored all 22 points in the second half, keyed by a pair of short touchdown runs by Donald Liotine, to rally past New Hampshire.

Cam Akers’ 42-yard touchdown run with 8:32 to play propelled Florida State past Duke for the Seminoles second win of the season. Akers finished with 115 yards on 15 carries.

WEEK 7 SCOREBOARD

Weekly Update: Second straight road win for Nebraska Cornhuskers and 2017 Touchdown Pledge Drive wraps up


WEEK 5 GRAPHICThank you, on behalf of the rare disease community we serve, to the 15 schools that participated in the 2017 Uplifting Athletes Touchdown Pledge Drive during the final three weeks in September.

The support from the college football student-athlete chapter leaders and donor to raise awareness and funds for rare diseases is appreciated. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Nebraska made it two road victories in a row by visiting fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Illinois for a Friday night Big Ten affair at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers defense put on a show, limiting the Fighting Illini to only a pair of field goals.

Linebacker Chris Weber, the Nebraska Chapter President, had a monster game with nine tackles that included six solo stops. He also had two tackles for a loss and one sack. Offensively, the Huskers piled up 411 total yards led by 246 yards and three touchdowns from QB Tanner Lee.

Penn State used a combination of defense and special teams to grab a 28-0 first-quarter lead on Indiana and cruised to a 31-point victory. The Nittany Lions forced four turnovers including a scoop-and-score by the special teams on a Hooisers punt return.

Linebacker Jason Cabinda paced a PSU defense that limited Indiana to its lowest point total of the season by recording 14 tackles, 1.5 TFL and one sack. QB Trace McSorley threw for 315 yards and a couple scores. WR DeSean Hamilton became the No. 1 receiver in school history with nine catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns.

Meet Clemson University Chapter President and Tigers kicker Christian Groomes in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

Colgate freshman quarterback Grant Breneman accounted for all three Raiders touchdowns in a road victory at Cornell. Breneman threw a pair of TD passes and rushed for another score. The Colgate defense came up with four interceptions that went a long way to the Raiders notching victory No. 2 of the season.

Joe Carbone threw for 182 yards with one touchdown and RB Stacey Bedell added 104 yards and a score on the ground to power Stony Brook to a huge Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) road victory over William & Mary. The Seawolves are 3-0 in the CAA and 4-1 overall with their only loss coming to FBS nationally ranked USF in Tampa in their opener.

Saint Francis used two touchdown passes from QB Bear Fenimore and 105 yards from RB Jymere Jordan-Toney to edge Liberty on the road in Virginia to improve to 3-1 overall.

Defending National Champion Clemson posted its second major road victory in as many weeks by traveling to Blacksburg, Virginia and subduing previously undefeated and nationally ranked Virginia Tech.

Dorian Daniel salted away another strong outing for the Tigers by returning an interception 22 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Clemson a 31-10 lead. QB Kelly Bryant totaled 280 yards of offense with one touchdown and led the Tigers in rushing with 94 yards.

Maryland RB Ty Johnson ripped off a 34-yard touchdown run with 70 seconds remaining to cap a solid 262-yard outing for the Terrapins on the ground. Johnson’s touchdown vaulted Maryland to a one-touchdown victory over Minnesota. The road victory featured Maryland using its third quarterback of the season.

Georgia Tech rolled up more than 400 rushing yards and cruised past winless North Carolina to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the ACC. QB TaQuon Marshall and RB KirVonte Benson combined for 267 yards and two touchdowns on 45 carries.

NC State held off a furious second-half comeback by fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Syracuse to hang on for a big ACC home victory. The Wolfpack led 26-7 at intermission. Syracuse WR Ervin Philips set a Syracuse and ACC single-game record with 17 receptions to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week award.

Washington is poised to make another strong run at a second straight Pac-12 title with a 5-0 start. The Huskies used 293 yards and three touchdowns from QB Jake Browning and WR Dante Pettis hauled in 12 pass for 105 yards with all three Browning TD passes going his way in a blowout win over Oregon State on the road.

Florida State picked up its first win of the season behind a late TD pass from QB James Blackman to WR Auden Tate covering 40 yards inside the final minute to edge Wake Forest on the road.

QB Brandon Wimbush threw for three touchdowns and added another on the ground as Notre Dame raced out to a 45-14 halftime lead over Miami (Ohio) from the MAC at home. The Fighting Irish improved to 4-1 overall.

Chapter Scoreboard Week 5

 

 

Maryland Chapter Touchdown Pledge Drive Saturday against UCF


MARYLAND TDPD 2017 GRAPHICThe Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes, led by President Adam Greene, is counting on the Terrapins offense to put a few touchdowns on the board Saturday, September 23 for its 2017 Touchdown Pledge Drive to support the rare disease community.

Uplifting Athletes chapters are run by football student-athletes. So, for fans, this is a great way to support the players on your favorite team off the field in their efforts to use the power of sport for social good.

The leadership team of the Maryland Chapter and all the members of the 2017 Terrapins squad is asking fans to support their efforts when Maryland welcomes Central Florida to Maryland Stadium by making a pledge through the Maryland Chapter online Touchdown Pledge Drive site.

Fans can simply make a pledge for each touchdown the Terrapins score that day and they can follow along to see the impact they are helping the players make.

The proceeds from our 2017 Touchdown Pledge Drive support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

The challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The grassroots effort of the Maryland Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community and shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

Maryland started tackling rare diseases in 2009 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of former Terrapins quarterback Boomer Esiason. His son, Gunnar, lives with the rare disease cystic fibrosis and his battle serves as the inspiration for Maryland to support the rare disease community.

Support the Maryland Chapter and its efforts to make a difference in the rare disease community by signing up for its Touchdown Pledge Drive today!