Beyond The Trophy: Get to know Western Michigan Chapter Vice President and safety Jake Moertl


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

Name: Jake Moertl

College: Western Michigan

Height, weight, class, position: 6-0, 195-pound, junior, safety

High School: Palatine High School in Palatine, Illinois

About Jake: The Illinois native found the field early in his Broncos career and is now looking to make an impact serving the Rare Disease Community. Jake participated in the inaugural Western Michigan Lift For Life in 2019 and volunteered to assume a leadership role. He attended the 2020 Leadership Development Conference and is excited to help the Western Michigan program support the rare disease cause. He appeared in 23 games his first two years at Western Michigan primarily on special teams. Last season he played in all 13 games and recorded his first career tackle. This season he’s earning more snaps as a reserve safety and has six tackles in 2020.

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

MOERTL: My first collegiate game in 2018 against Syracuse. 

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

MOERTL: A connection to the Rare Disease Community that has impacted my family’s life.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

MOERTL: It’s bigger than a game. We have the platform as athletes to impact and support those in the Rare Disease Community.

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

MOERTL: Listen and consider what your family sees for you, but this is your life and decision. Follow the guidance of your loved ones, but don’t allow them to make the final decision for you.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

MOERTL: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins because he is an incredibly faithful christian and a humble person. 

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

MOERTL: My dad because he’s had the greatest impact on my life.

JAKE ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

MOERTL: Veggie  

All time favorite movie?

MOERTL: Remember The Titans

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

MOERTL: Potbelly 

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

MOERTL: Chicago Bears

What is the most used app on your phone?

MOERTL: Credit Karma

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Kent State Chapter President and wide receiver Isaac Vance


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

Name: Isaac Vance

College: Kent State

Height, weight, class, position: 5-9, 169-pound, redshirt junior, slot receiver

High School: Mayfield High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico

About Isaac: Inspired by former Golden Flashes teammate Antwan Dixon and his comeback from battling a rare blood disorder, Isaac chose to take on a leadership role after participating in the inaugural Kent State Chapter Lift For Life in 2019. He attended the Leadership Development Conference in 2020 and plays a key role for the Kent State Chapter and its support of the Rare Disease Community. The native of Las Cruces, New Mexico had played in 24 games over in 2018 and 2019 primarily on special teams before earning a starting spot in 2020. Isaac is a two-time member of the Academic All-Mac Team and was honored as the 2019-2020 recipient of the Lou Holtz Scholarship Endowment.

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

VANCE: Winning the 2019 Frisco Bowl game against Utah State.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

VANCE: Being teammates with a former rare disease patient and seeing his work ethic and drive during his comeback inspired me.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

VANCE: Our voice as college athletes is strong, and we can use our platform for positivity.

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

VANCE: I would tell them to ‘work, work.’ Put in the hours when people aren’t watching.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

VANCE: Quarterback Cam Newton. Always smiling and he dresses top notch.

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

VANCE: Major League Baseball star Miguel Tejada because I grew up idolizing him and his game.

ISAAC ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

VANCE: Garlic crusted pepperoni and cheese 

All time favorite movie?

VANCE: Bad Boys II

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

VANCE: Whataburger 

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

VANCE: Atlanta Braves

What is the most used app on your phone?

VANCE: Twitter

Shaun Hastings is built to be an impactful leader in the lives of others


Shaun Hastings may be a massive 6-4, 280-pound offensive lineman, but his mother says his soft heart has always been the biggest thing about the Saint Francis University redshirt junior.  

The oldest of three siblings, Hastings was protective of his younger brother and sister. It was an instinct he displayed at a young age and one that not only helped his family navigate through a tough period but also laid the building blocks for the man Shaun is today.

“I noticed as he was growing up Shaun was always so in tune to others’ feelings,” said his mother, Erin Hastings. “He always was putting others before himself.”

“One of the biggest things I have learned is how much of an impact that I myself can have on so many people’s lives.”

Shaun Hastings

When Shaun was nearly 10 years old, his brother Matthew began to struggle with issues. As the diagnosis of ADHD/SPD slowly came into focus, finding the right combination of medication and therapy to help Matthew was a strain on the family. 

“I was younger when Matthew was first diagnosed,” Shaun said. “Even at that age I could see it was frustrating and difficult for my parents and our family. Learning how to deal with his issues, finding the right medications for him … it was some tough times.”

Shaun was keenly aware of Matthew’s issues, Erin said, and was a calming presence for his brother. That steady influence laid the foundation for a tight relationship that served both brothers well as they grew up.

“Shaun is very protective. I think with the difficulties we had in the beginning with Matthew, he was very keen on how others perceived his brother,” Erin said. “[Matthew] noticed the stares and the whispers, and Shaun stepped in to help.

“I never asked Shaun to help. He was such a calming influence for Matthew. And it was tough for me at first to reconcile having my kid help me. But I never asked him. He did it all by himself. I came to realize it was just who he is.”

Matthew and Shaun never attended the same school because of their seven-year age difference. Still, Shaun remained keenly aware of what was going on around his brother.

Shaun made sure to stay in tune with what was going on when they left the house. He wanted Matthew to be viewed the same as everybody else. It was extremely important to him. 

“I feel everyone deserves a shot to be treated right and fairly. Especially kids. Growing up, kids are mean and it’s tough,” Shaun said. “It was just something I was aware of. It wasn’t something I could protect my brother from, per se, but I just kept an open eye and looked out for him.”

During those early years, as the Hastings family worked through finding Matthew the right combination of a proper diagnosis and medications, Erin discovered Shaun had a special soft spot for kids. And it was more than Matthew. He gravitated to all of them.

“It’s not just the relationship with his brother,” Erin said. “It’s his cousins, our friends’ kids. Kids are a big deal to Shaun. He’s always such a calming influence on them and he’s always had a soft spot for kids with disabilities or who are struggling, obviously. Kids just gravitate to him and I describe Shaun to everyone as a big leader.”

A soft spot for kids, leadership abilities and a willingness to put others first  … it’s no wonder Shaun has discovered ways to fill the servant-leader gap while he’s away from his family at college.

When Shaun arrived on campus at Saint Francis in 2017, football and school dominated his focus. And that hasn’t changed. Shaun is taking classes on campus, dealing with COVID-19 guidelines and hoping the Red Flash have a season in early 2021. Meanwhile, he has discovered outlets and opportunities to help others.

During his freshman year while he was “finding his way,” Shaun came across an opportunity to be involved with Special Olympics. Kids and a community that needed help were a natural fit.

Later that first year, he participated in the Saint Francis Chapter of Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life and wanted to learn more about what it was all about.

As a leader, and a person who gets a high level of satisfaction helping serve people or communities that are challenged or underserved, Shaun learned more about the chapter and the rare disease cause and knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.

“I never really got involved with organizations and stuff [at Cedar Cliff high school] because I was always very busy in high school,” said Shaun. “My freshman year here I was still trying to find my place. I was looking for things that fit so I could help.

“So I got involved in Special Olympics. That was my first step. When I was a freshman we had Lift For Life and that really interested me.”

Shaun attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in Atlanta in early 2020 after volunteering to become a chapter leader to better help serve the Rare Disease Community. 

No one is less surprised than his mother that Shaun has found a way to serve others. She saw it up close and personal in their home for more than a decade.

“He has a heart of gold. Personality-wise he’s 100 percent like his father [Mark] but because of what we went through with Matthew and how I had to learn and train to adjust to being in tune with his needs, I like to think this side he gets from me,” Erin said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with Shaun where he put himself first. His default is to put others first and I’m proud of him for finding ways to put his talents outside of football to use.”

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know NC State Chapter Vice President and tight end Dylan Autenrieth


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

Name: Dylan Autenrieth

College: NC State

Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 240-pound, senior, tight end

High School: North Paulding HS in Dallas, Georgia

About Dylan: Dylan Autentrieth has been a driving force behind the success of the NC State Chapter for three years. He has helped organize and participated in three Lift for Life events and has attended the Leadership Development Conference twice. Dylan is passionate about servicing the Rare Disease Community and feels his work is making a difference. After two seasons as a situational tight end for the Wolfpack, the Georgia native had moved up the depth chart and was named the starting tight end and team captain for the 2019 season before he went down with a knee injury after only three games that ended his year. He has been a regular at tight end for the Wolfpack in 2020.

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

AUTENRIETH: Running out of the tunnel for the first time.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

AUTENRIETH: I heard about the cause through our own events, and when I was asked to be chapter Vice President I could not resist.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

AUTENRIETH: Just how tough the Rare Disease Community is, not only for the ones diagnosed but for the families as well.

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

AUTENRIETH: Just be yourself, don’t lie to fit in just be yourself. 

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

AUTENRIETH: Tom Brady. Just the way he competes is inspiring.

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

AUTENRIETH: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. An inspiring coach, I would love to pick his brain.

DYLAN ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

AUTENRIETH: Meatlovers

All time favorite movie?

AUTENRIETH: Law-Abiding Citizen

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

AUTENRIETH: Subway 

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

AUTENRIETH: New York Football Giants

What is the most used app on your phone?

AUTENRIETH: Instagram

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Lehigh Chapter Vice President and tight end Alex Snyder


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

Name: Alex Snyder

College: Lehigh University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-5, 240 pounds, junior, tight end

High School: Lambert High School in Cumming, Georgia

About Alex: The native of Georgia was a three-sport athlete in high school, he also played basketball and baseball, before arriving at Lehigh in 2018. Alex has appeared in all 22 games his first two seasons with the Mountain Hawks, including 11 starts as a sophomore in 2019 and 13 total starts at tight end. Last season he finished fourth on the team in receptions and yards, with eight of his 23 catches a year ago covering 20 or more yards. Alex participated in the inaugural Lehigh Chapter Lift For Life in 2019 before volunteering to step into a leadership role serving the Rare Disease Community. He attended the 2020 Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference and is part of a strong leadership team for the Lehigh Chapter.

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

SNYDER: I made a one-handed snag during my first game as a starter.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

SNYDER: The amazing opportunity to make a huge difference for those in need of help and support fighting rare diseases.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

SNYDER: That so many people don’t have a voice to make a difference. I’ve learned that I am blessed with an amazing platform to help those in need.

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

SNYDER: Ask the seniors who played their last game what regrets they have. Then don’t make the same mistakes they made. 

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

SNYDER: Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. He’s a baller and I’m also a tight end.  

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

SNYDER: Bill Gates to learn more about exactly what it takes to be successful.

ALEX ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

SNYDER: Cheese stuffed crust meat lovers

All time favorite movie?

SNYDER: The Dark Knight

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

SNYDER: Chick-fil-a   

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

SNYDER: Atlanta Braves

What is the most used app on your phone?

SNYDER: Twitter

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Syracuse Chapter President and long snapper Aaron Bolinsky


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

Name: Aaron Bolinsky

College: Syracuse University

Height, weight, class, position: 5-11, 218 pounds, junior, long snapper

High School: North Schuylkill High School in Frackville, Pennsylvania

About Aaron: The Pennsylvania native battled a rare disease as a child and is passionate about serving the Rare Disease Community. Aaron participated in the 2018 and 2019 Lift For Life events and stepped into a leadership role for the Syracuse Chapter during the offseason and attended the 2020 Leadership Development Conference. An injury to the starting long snapper his freshman season in 2018 gave Aaron the opportunity to make an impact on the field on special teams. He has made 19 consecutive starts as the Orange long snapper, recorded six tackles and a forced fumble. He is projected as the No. 1 long snapper in 2020.

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

BOLINSKY: Being able to play against Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

BOLINSKY: As a kid who once had a rare disease, along with the passion I have for giving back to my community, I wanted to find more ways to help inspire kids to keep fighting.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

BOLINSKY: That the smallest thing can make such a big impact on the people who look up to you.

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

BOLINSKY: You may lose friends and people may say things about you, but if playing college football is your goal don’t stop or let anyone throw you off track in achieving that goal.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

BOLINSKY: Former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. He has been very humble and grounded his whole life and loved how he was such a big student of the game.

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

BOLINSKY: Warren Buffet. As a business major to be able to sit down talk to him would be an awesome opportunity. 

AARON ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

BOLINSKY: Chicken Parmesan

All time favorite movie?

BOLINSKY: Invincible

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

BOLINSKY: Chipotle  

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

BOLINSKY: Philadelphia Eagles

What is the most used app on your phone?BOLINSKY: Instagram

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Saint Francis Chapter President and offensive lineman Shaun Hastings


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

Name: Shaun Hastings

College: Saint Francis University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 280 pounds, redshirt junior, offensive lineman

High School: Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

About Shaun: The Pennsylvania native and high school All-State selection has become a reliable mainstay on the Red Flash offensive line with 18 appearances up front in 2018 and 2019 including nine starts at right tackle last season. Shaun twice participated in the Saint Francis Chapter Lift For Life and stepped into a leadership role in 2020 and attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

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

HASTINGS: The Uplifting Athletes Leadership Conference by far. I loved meeting new people and seeing just how big of an impact we can have on people’s lives.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

HASTINGS: My brother was diagnosed with ADHD and had signs of autism when he was younger. It was a fear of mine that people wouldn’t treat him fairly so I am always looking for ways to help people.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

HASTINGS: The biggest thing I have learned is how much of an impact that I myself can have on so many people’s lives.

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

HASTINGS: Always believe in yourself even when you may be getting overlooked and don’t compare yourself to other players.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

HASTINGS: Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt because of the way he plays, gives back and keeps fighting through injury.

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

HASTINGS: King Tut to find out how they built the Pyramids.

SHAUN ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

HASTINGS: Deep Dish Sausage from Pizza King

All time favorite movie?

HASTINGS: Tie between Casino and Lone Survivor

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

HASTINGS: WaWa

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

HASTINGS: Baltimore Ravens

What is the most used app on your phone?

HASTINGS: Twitter

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Maryland Chapter President and running back Jake Funk


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

Name: Jake Funk

College: University of Maryland

Height, weight, class, position: 5-10, 203 pounds, redshirt senior, running back

High School: Damascus High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland

About Jake: The three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and former Maryland Gatorade High School Player of the Year made an immediate impact for the Terrapins by appearing in 25 games his first two seasons before battling injuries the last two years. In 2019 he had more than 200 yards and a couple touchdowns through three games before an ACL injury again brought his season to an end. Owns a stellar 6.1 yards per carry average for his career with seven touchdowns. He became a Maryland Chapter leader serving the Rare Disease Community in 2019 and attended the Uplifting Athletes 2020 Leadership Development Conference.

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

FUNK: Scoring the game winning touchdown to beat Texas at Texas.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

FUNK: Former teammates of mine emphasized the importance of Uplifting Athletes to me. I also really enjoy helping others especially when individuals are less fortunate than others like kids with rare diseases.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

FUNK: I did not know how underfunded rare diseases actually are. 

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

FUNK: Make sure you take advantage of every second because it all goes by so fast.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

FUNK: Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffery because I aspire to have the skill set at RB that he does. 

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

FUNK: Connor McGregor because he is the definition of sports entertainment. 

JAKE ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

FUNK: Pepperoni

All time favorite movie?

FUNK: Lion King

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

FUNK: Chipotle

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

FUNK: Washington Capitals

What is the most used app on your phone?

FUNK: Snapchat

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Western Michigan Chapter President and linebacker Zaire Barnes


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

Name: Zaire Barnes

College: Western Michigan University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-3, 225 pounds, junior, linebacker

High School: Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Illinois

About Zaire: The former high school standout at running back and safety has converted to outside linebacker in college and has been making an impact on the field from the beginning of his collegiate career. Zaire has appeared in 24 games his first two years at WMU with four starts and is projected to be a starting linebacker this season. Zaire Barnes is part of the second wave of leaders for Western Michigan Chapter after co-founders Jamauri Bogan and Justin Tranquill move on. He joined the leadership team at WMU after his 2018 freshman season and attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference. 

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

BARNES: Going to my first bowl game. The Idaho Potato Bowl was one of the best experiences. It was something new I never thought I would be able to do.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

BARNES: At first I was selected to go to the Leadership Conference, but once I got there and heard about the cause and message, I was all for it. Promoting rare diseases is a message that many more people need to hear.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

BARNES: How blessed I truly am. People out there have loved ones suffering and dying from rare diseases. And with the position I am in, I can make a difference. That’s how blessed I am.

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

BARNES: Work hard and be patient. Your time is coming. Reach out to coaches, but make sure you still have fun out there on the field. 

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

BARNES: Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polumalu because of how hard he played and his outlook on life. 

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

BARNES: Jesus. I have so many questions to ask.

ZAIRE ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

BARNES: Meat lovers

All time favorite movie?

BARNES: End Game

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

BARNES: Wendy’s

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

BARNES: Chicago Bears

What is the most used app on your phone?

BARNES: Instagram

Beyond The Trophy 2020: Get to know Davidson Chapter President and Quarterback Tyler Phelps


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

Name: Tyler Phelps

College: Davidson College

Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 217 pounds, senior, quarterback

High School: Gulf Breeze High School in Gulf Breeze, Florida

About Tyler: The Florida native has been the Wildcats’ starting quarterback 30 of the last 33 games including 23 starts in a row the last two seasons. He’s thrown for nearly 4,000 in his career and 27 touchdowns. Tyler was a Pioneer Football League Academic Honor Roll selection each of the past three seasons and in 2019 he was a team captain. He watched the co-founders of the Davidson Chapter establish a level of excellence and was motivated to become a leader after participating in the Lift For Life events. Tyler attended the 2020 Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

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

PHELPS: We had a goal line stand in 2018 that secured our team the first winning season at Davidson in seven years.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

PHELPS: The opportunity to get involved in an organization that uses a unique platform to help support a community that doesn’t get a lot or enough support.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

PHELPS: That when you put in the effort and have a story that combination can go a long way to affect change.

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

PHELPS: Don’t do it for the status. Do it for the love of the sport.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

PHELPS: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The way he prepares for each game and spends time after practice taking mental reps is something I idolize.

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

PHELPS: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to learn what it takes to sustain excellence at the highest level.

TYLER ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

PHELPS: Pepperoni, green olives and feta cheese

All time favorite movie?

PHELPS: Avengers – Infinity War

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

PHELPS: Jersey Mike’s

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

PHELPS: Indianapolis Colts

What is the most used app on your phone?

PHELPS: Messages