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.

 

Five college football programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter close out the season with a bowl victory


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Seven college football programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter were involved in one of the 41 bowl games to end the 2017 season.

Five of the seven, Florida State, NC State, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Penn State, came out with victories in their final game of the year.

NC State set a Sun Bowl record with six rushing touchdowns on in a three-touchdown victory over Arizona State. The Wolfpack offense piled up nearly 500 yards while the defense forced ASU into four turnovers. NC State finished 9-4 overall and should finish inside the Top 20.

Penn State wrapped up its second 11-win season in a row behind 342 yards passing from Fiesta Bowl MVP Trace McSorley to nudge past Washington. The Nittany Lions, who converted on 13 of 17 third-down opportunities, jumped out to a 28-7 lead before the Huskies made a late charge. PSU finished as a Top 10 team for the second year in a row.

Northwestern’s defense knocked down a 2-point conversion by Kentucky in the dying seconds to give the Wildcats a one-point victory in the Music City Bowl. The win was Northwestern’s eighth in a row and gave a Wildcats squad that was 2-3 at one point a 10-win season. RB Justin Jackson was a workhorse, carrying 32 times for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Notre Dame WR Miles Boykin made a dramatic one-handed catch and then raced 55 yards for the score with less than 90 seconds remaining to propel the Fighting Irish past LSU in the Citrus Bowl. The win gave ND a 10-win season, ended a nine-game losing streak in January postseason games and was the Fighting Irish’s first New Year’s Day win since the 1994 Cotton Bowl.

Florida State closed out a difficult 2017 that included major injuries to key players and the departure of long-time head coach Jimbo Fisher with four consecutive victories to avoid its first losing season since 1976. The Seminoles ran away from South Mississippi behind an Independence Bowl record four touchdown passes from freshman quarterback James Blackman.

Defending National Champion Clemson played Alabama in its final game of the season for the third consecutive year. And for the first time since 2015, the College Football Playoff Championship Game did not include the Tigers after they fell to the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.

With five programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter finishing with at least 10 wins, Clemson, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State and Washington, and NC State finishing with nine victories, there could be six chapter schools ranked inside the final Top 20 rankings.

 

Seven Uplifting Athletes Chapters headed to postseason bowl games


BOWL IMAGESeven college football programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter are headed to bowl games to put a bow on their 2017 college football season.

Florida State, NC State, Northwestern, Penn State, Notre Dame, Washington and Clemson all finished bowl eligible this season.

Clemson, the defending National Champions, are in the College Football Playoffs for the third consecutive year and will take on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in one semifinal.

Penn State finished with its second double-digit win season in a row and its two losses were by a combined four points. The Nittany Lions, who are part of the New Year’s Six after coming in at No. 9 in the final CFP rankings, will play fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.

Florida State is going through a major coaching change, but the Seminoles won their final game of the regular season to keep their streak of consecutive bowl appearances at 36 and counting. FSU will take on Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.

Northwestern was one of the hottest teams in college football down the stretch. The Wildcats finished the regular season with seven consecutive victories, including three straight in overtime, to end up inside the Top 25 of the final CFP rankings. Northwestern will play Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

Notre Dame was one of the four teams ranked early in the CFP rankings, but struggled down the stretch and finished 9-3 overall. But the Fighting Irish still drew a nice bowl destination, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and get a strong opponent in LSU.

NC had a solid season, finishing 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the ACC, and finished inside the final CFP Top 25 rankings. The reward for the Wolfpack is a trip to the desert to play Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.

Uplifting Athletes Chapters are run by current college football student-athletes and use the platform of college football to support mission of Uplifting Athletes to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

 

 

 

Weekly Update: Colgate captures share of Patriot League crown and miracle finish helps propel Stony Brook to NCAA FCS playoff berth


WEEK 12 GRAPHICFor the ninth time in program history, Colgate earned at least a share of the Patriot League title by scoring the final 35 points to knock off Georgetown.

The Raiders shared the 2017 crown with Lehigh at 5-1, but the Lehigh Mountain Hawks earned the automatic conference bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs. Colgate did not receive an at-large bid from the committee despite winning its final five games to finish 7-4 overall.

This was the second time in three years Colgate has earned at least a share of the Patriot League crown. The Raiders defense stretched its streak of scoreless quarters to 15 in the victory.

The last time Colgate’s defense allowed a touchdown was October 21 when Holy Cross scored on its opening drive. The lone Georgetown touchdown came on a pick-6 on the first play from scrimmage.

What a weekend for the Stony Brook Seawolves. They started it off with a dramatic come-from-behind road victory at Maine that included a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

The winning points came on a 35-yard Hail Mary pass hauled in by Harrison Jackson as time expired to secure the one-point victory.

That miracle reception by Jackson, who was surrounded by Maine defenders, allowed Stony Brook to finish 9-2 overall and 7-1 in the CAA. And that record earned the solo second-place finishers in the CAA an invitation to the NCAA College Football FCS Playoffs. The Seawolves will host Patriot League co-champion Lehigh in the opener.

This is the first postseason berth for Stony Brook since 2012 and only the third playoff appearance in school history for the Seawolves.

Penn closed out its 2017 season with four consecutive victories to rally and post a 6-4 overall record with a win over Cornell at Franklin Field. The Quakers finished 4-3 in the Ivy League and those three league losses came by a total of 11 points combined.

Clemson and Florida State each posted easy victories over FCS schools. In the Seminoles victory over Delaware State, senior WR Justin Motlow, a walk-on, not only scored a touchdown but made history to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Northwestern won its sixth in a row after a rough start and is one of the hottest teams in college football. The Wildcats blanked Minnesota at Ryan Field behind 166 yards from RB Justin Jackson and a defense that surrendered less than 200 yards and forced five turnovers.

Penn State is on track for a second consecutive double-digit win season after the defending Big Ten Champions disposed of Nebraska on Senior Day at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions led by 32 early in the fourth quarter before the Huskers scored three times in the final 6:32 to close the final gap. Penn State had more than 600 yards of offense including 325 yards and three touchdowns through the air by QB Trace McSorley.

Notre Dame kept its hopes for a 10-win regular season alive by rallying to score the final 14 points to edge Navy by a touchdown at home. QB Brandon Wimbush threw a pair of TD passes to tie the game then put the Irish ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.

WEEK 12 SCOREBOARD

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: 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