Edinboro football player nominated to Good Works Team

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 6:28 PM
Edinboro football player nominated to Good Works Team by Macala Leigey
Photo: Mike Lantinen

The stadium lights burn into the turf- covered field and backs of exhausted players. Sweat drips off the rugged figures’ helmets and fixated faces, as tired puffs of hot breath escape through their face masks like a desperate fog. One more down to go, one more play to make. One more good work to accomplish on the field — a work that for some players, will be the only noted by the public eye.

However, for 22 collegiate level football players from universities located throughout the United States, it is the good works they performed off the field that have earned them a nomination for the 2017 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team Captain position. Edinboro University’s own Ryan Stratton is among the nominees.

Originally, one out of 146 nominees for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Stratton is now a part of the Allstate team’s nominations for team captain, a roster that was narrowed down to only 22 NCAA football players.

“Wow, that’s pretty humbling,” Stratton said, recalling his initial reaction to his nomination.

“I’m not gonna lie, I cried whenever I found out. Getting team captain would definitely be an honor, but I’m just blessed to be even in the position to do that.”

The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team positions are earned not only by the work an athlete puts in under the lights, but also off the field and in the community.

Stratton, number 44 and senior tight end for the Fighting Scots, earned his spot on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team by organizing community outreach events and being an active civic member throughout his collegiate career.

These projects include: The 12th Man, a program that allows individuals with disabilities to be members of the Fighting Scots football team for a game; the Student- Athlete Academic Program, where he tutors other athletes; the Council for Exceptional Children/Expanding Sociability Opportunities dances, which are dances specifically for young adults with disabilities; a mission trip to the Dominican Republic; feeding the homeless in Erie; and several other community service activities.

“It means everything to me, as a coach, to have Ryan nominated for the Allstate Good Works Team Captain,” said Edinboro University Interim Head Football Coach Wayne Bradford.

“Our number one goal is to graduate great young men who will go on to be great fathers, husbands and leaders [and] Ryan exemplifies all those outstanding qualities.” 

However, while humbled by the nomination for team captain, Stratton explained receiving the award would mean “honestly, nothing.” He continued: “It’s just a thing. I’m weird about awards. The old me always wanted awards and always worked towards them, and then whenever I found out about God — it’s not all about that (awards).

“I don’t want to downplay it either or disrespect AFCA and what they’re doing... it’s just I don’t think you should get an award for doing that kind of stuff. Number one — it doesn’t go to me, it goes to God, [and] number two, there’s a lot of people that should get a piece of it.”

In addition to the nomination of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain position, Stratton has been the recipient of the Dr. Joseph Laythe Award, is a two-time PSAC and Edinboro Scholar-Athlete, and was recently selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 William F. Campbell Trophy, as announced by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF).

“Ryan competes at everything he does. He competes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. He defines ‘servant’ leadership [and] is all about doing for others. The best part about Ryan is he gives our team a great example of how to be great in every facet of your life — academically, athletically, socially and spiritually,” Bradford said.

He continued: “Ryan is deserving of all the awards he has been nominated for. There isn’t one person who has met Ryan that hasn’t been touched by his kindness, love and fellowship.” Stratton is a dual major in middle level math and special education, with a minor in adaptive leadership and military science. He is currently in Edinboro University’s ROTC program and plans to pursue active military duty after college.

“After my time in the service, I think it would be cool to do something with giving kids flights, but I don’t know where or what God has in store,” Stratton said.

Stratton also mentioned that he would like to see The 12th Man project spread to other universities.

“It would be really cool to see that spread, because I know the impact it’s had on our team. It’s just really cool to see big, strong guys that are mucho tough, but [then] a kid comes in, [and] it’s cool to see how they (football players) get off their pedestal,” Stratton said.

Behind the face masks, the jerseys, the daunting lights, rough tackles, screaming fans and tunnels leading to where most of their victories take place, players like Stratton and the 22 other Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain nominees prove that not all good works take place on the field.

“It’s just cool to see how God works and how he uses events in your life,” said Stratton.

“I know no matter where you go, you can always share love and show love, and always do something. Wherever you’re at, you can make an impact.”

To cast your vote for the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain, visit ESPN.com/ Allstate, now through Nov. 23, 2017.

Macala Leigey is a managing editor (print) for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com. 

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