FWAA Creates new award in memory of Edward Aschoff

By Heather Dinich, ESPN.com
2020 FWAA First Vice-President

DALLAS Edward Aschoff was always easy to spot in a press box not just because of his dapper suit, his unique socks or trademark lapel pin but also because of his infectious smile, his laugh and his pure love for whatever assignment he was working on.

Aschoff, a beloved ESPN college football reporter, died on Christmas Eve his 34th birthday from previously undetected Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his lungs. He was a bright light in our industry, one the FWAA hopes to honor through an annual Edward Aschoff Rising Star Award.

Edward Aschoff
(Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

Each year, the FWAA will recognize one promising journalist no older than 34, who has not only the talent and work ethic it takes to succeed in this business, but also the passion to make it better. Aschoff, a 2008 graduate of the University of Florida, loved people, and even as his career at ESPN escalated, he still guided and befriended younger journalists along the way.

“He was someone I always looked forward to seeing when our paths crossed in a random SEC press box or elsewhere, someone who always encouraged me as a younger journalist trying to navigate my way through this business and life, someone I always admired — both for his work and his zest for life — and someone I could always count on for a laugh,” said Tom Green, who was a student at Florida when he met Aschoff in 2010 and is now the Auburn beat reporter for AL.com/Alabama Media Group. “I’ll always be grateful for his friendship, his advice and his respect, because I know I’m better for having known Ed. We all are.”

Aschoff moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to begin a more expanded national role that included television coverage. Over the past three seasons, he reported from campuses across the country for ESPN.com, SportsCenter, SEC Network and ESPN Radio, and he worked as a television and radio sideline reporter during college football games.

Jordan McPherson, a student reporter at Florida from 2013 to 2017 who is now covering the Miami Marlins for the Miami Herald, said Aschoff helped him on several occasions.

“He was a pro’s pro and touched my life with just a few brief interactions that he didn’t have to make,” McPherson said. “His positivity was infectious, his ability to mentor through simple conversation was second to none. He will be missed, but always be remembered.”

Ted Spiker, chair of the department of journalism at the University of Florida who taught Aschoff in several classes, said Aschoff  “was one of our stars — not just because he was so talented as a journalist and storyteller, but also because of everything he did to help people around him. He always had a good word of advice for young journalists, he was always willing to give back, and he always made people smile.”

Last month, the university’s College of Journalism and Communications established the Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund, which will provide support for students involved in sports journalism.

Aschoff inspired us through his storytelling, brightened our lives with his gregarious personality and uplifted our spirits with his energy. The FWAA hopes to honor his memory and his commitment to aspiring journalists with this award.

“Edward epitomized everything you want in a sports journalist: He knew how to build relationships, to gain trust, to break stories but also to tell stories,” said ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson. “And he did it all with a flair that made you want to watch his television pieces or read his written stories right away. His dogged determination and relentless work ethic allowed him to rise to the top at ESPN, and all his exemplary qualities serve as a model for young journalists everywhere about what truly can be achieved if you go after what you want.”

To submit nominations for this award, please send a paragraph or two about the nominee, including why you are nominating him or her, and three links to samples of work to Heather Dinich at heather.dinich@espn.com . Please include your name, job title, and a phone number. A panel of FWAA members will choose the winner. Entries should be submitted by June 1.

Related Link:
Give to the Edward Aschoff Memorial Fund at the University of Florida

Viti receives 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award

12019 Armed Forces Merit Award recipient Mike Viti (center) with (left to right) Army West Point coach Jeff Monken, Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl executive director Brant Ringler, FWAA member Ken Kratzer (Sons of the American Legion) and AFMA coordinator.

WEST POINT, N.Y., February 7, 2020 — Army West Point coach and military veteran Mike Viti was presented the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) as the school’s annual football banquet here Friday at Ike Hall.

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and FWAA representative Ken Kratzer (Sons of the American Legion) presented the award to Viti, who was announced November 11, 2019 as the eighth recipient.

Viti was selected from a list of 38 nominations (33 individuals and five programs) as the 2019 recipient by a seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Armed Forces Merit Award

“Coach Viti has distinguished himself as a collegiate football player, an Army veteran and now as a coach,” said Ringler. “More importantly, Coach Viti has given of himself with his work with Legacies Alive in support of families of our nation’s fallen heroes.”

Viti, who completed his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Army West Point football, co-founded Legacies Alive (LA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The mission of the Legacies Alive is to strengthen and support the Gold Star families of our nation’s fallen heroes and brings national awareness to the life and character of all service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Viti oversees the strategic and executive direction of the organization.

“Legacies Alive has allowed me to passionately honor the sacrifice and service of my heroes,” said Viti. “The interactions I have had with their Gold Star Families are some of the most powerful and influential experiences I have had in my life. It has inspired me to continue to connect our mission with more Americans so that our country’s sons and daughters forever connect the freedoms and liberties they are afforded, with the sacrifice and service our fallen and their families.”

As a student-athlete at Army West Point (2004-2007), Viti earned four varsity letters and was a team captain. As a fullback used primarily as a blocker, he carried the ball 91 times during his career for 321 yards and three scores while catching 30 passes for 198 yards. Viti also served as a Regimental Commander during his senior year.

Following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 2008, Viti was stationed in Oklahoma and Colorado after being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served with the 4th Infantry Division as well as the 214th Fires Brigade. He served in combat in Afghanistan where he was a platoon leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Viti has earned a bronze star and a combat action badge.

After retiring from the military as a captain, Viti embarked on Mike’s Hike For Heroes, a cross country trek where he walked one kilometer for every service member killed in action in the global war on terror. He concluded the walk covering 7,100 kilometers or 4,400 miles beginning in Washington and wrapping up at the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA in Baltimore, Md.

Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard was named last November as the seventh recipient. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player. He currently serves on the selection committee for the College Football Playoffs.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games, the FCS opening-weekend game, 16 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event, an esports event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and Tampa, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, http://www.sportswriters.net) consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team. Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of President Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,400 members.

Media Contacts

  • Tim Simmons, Armed Forces Merit Award Coordinator, 720/244-6580, bfishinc@aol.com
  • Steve Richardson, Football Writers Association of America, 214/870-6516, tiger@fwaa.com
  • Greg Kincaid, Assistant AD/Communications Football, Army West Point, 786)/972-1299, gregkincaid14@gmail.com
  • Drew Harris, Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, 254/716-8573, drew@firstpitchpr.com