DALLAS – Alex Charlton is this week’s nominee for the 2020 Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award. Charlton, a former Midwestern State graduate assistant and Arkansas State volunteer defensive analyst, took a leave from football to join the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a nurse.
“There were many times I just found myself holding somebody’s hand who just needed that moment of support,” Charlton told The Athletic this summer, “to not feel like they’re alone in a hospital with all these people walking around with all this gear on.”
Charlton had been a student assistant, player personnel assistant and graduate assistant at Kansas. He enrolled in nursing school at UMKC in 2015, while helping out as a coach at local high schools. He became a GA at Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas after the 2019 season.
In the spring, Charlton left his job to work as a nurse in New York. He worked 12-hour shifts, seeing things that no man or woman should have to see.
In June, with daily cases in New York having fallen from around 5,000 to roughly 1,000, Charlton returned to his home in Kansas, and then to his day job at Midwestern State.
By late July, Charlton had left for a job at Arkansas State. Just two weeks later, he left for Ennis, Texas to work as a COVID-19 response team nurse.
“Football will always be there and that’s my future,” Charlton said during an ESPN College GameDay feature on Sept. 26. “But right now I need to see this through and do what I can to help.”
The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.
Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson (2019), SUNY Cortland linebacker Kyle Richard (2018), Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon (2017), Pitt running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 2021. The Orange Bowl also led a community-wide effort to bring the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship to South Florida. It will be played on Jan. 11, 2021 (2021miami.com). For more information on the 2020-2021 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,200 men and women who cover college football. 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 its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Oct. 28: Jon Dietzen, Wisconsin
• Nov. 4: Alex Charlton, Arkansas State
• Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award