Armed Forces Merit Award presentation at Kansas State Reply

Kansas State President Richard Myers (center) hoists the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writer’s Association of America after receiving the honor Saturday from FWAA Past President Blair Kerkhoff (second from the right) and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler (right). Lieutenant Colonel John Meredith (left) from Fort Riley and Kansas State Athletics Director Gene Taylor look on during the presentation during the Wildcat’s game against West Virginia at Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.

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2017 Armed Forces Merit Award goes to Kansas State Reply

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Teas – Kansas State has been named the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).The partnership of the Kansas State football team with the Iron Rangers has created a bond between the university and the United States Army post at Fort Riley. 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 with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and David Jones, the FWAA’s president, announced here Thursday selection of the Kansas State football team as the 2017 recipient during an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference. Ringler will also be present Saturday at the Wildcat’s game versus West Virginia in Manhattan to officially present the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.

A seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials selected Kansas State from a list of 38 nominations for the 2017 award. U. S. Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a defensive end at Middle Tennessee State University, was honored last November as the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012 followed by Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015. All four individuals were U. S. Army veterans before playing college football.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor the Kansas State football program as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award,” said Ringler. “We had a list of 38 outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to honor only one each year when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

Jones echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that the FWAA is “pleased to team with Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to recognize Kansas State’s involvement with the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley. The FWAA also salutes the other 2017 nominations for their contributions on-and-off the field of play.”

A nominee for the Armed Forces Merit Award since 2013, the Kansas State football team has been a finalist for the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl and FWAA recognition the past two years. The Kansas State relationship with Fort Riley started in 2006 when Lt. Col. Patrick Frank approached former Wildcat coach Ron Prince about partnering his soldiers with the Kansas State student-athletes. The partnership has continued with legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder.

“We are so very honored to receive the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA in recognition of our passionate, long and on-going relationship with For. Riley and the Big Red 1,” said Snyder. “We have such great respect for our armed services and the amazing sacrifices they make for all of us and are so fortunate to live in this country. The interaction Sean, I and our players have with the men of Fort Riley has left a lasting impact on our lives.”

Kansas State Athletics Director Gene Taylor added that “the partnerships that each of our athletic teams have with Fort Riley, including our football team, are a special and unique component of the experience that we provide all of our student-athletes at our school. Both groups have an immense respect for what each does, and it is a tremendous honor for our student-athletes to build relationships and greater understanding of the work and lifestyles of our service men and women, all whom have sacrificed so much for our country.”

In addition to hosting joint workouts, Snyder and his son, associate head coach Sean Snyder, have attended deployment and return ceremonies for the troops at Fort Riley, and they post newsletters from the regiment in the locker room. For each home game, Wildcat team captains carry the Iron Rangers and Big Red Ones Flags out onto the field as two members of the Iron Rangers bring the flags each week and watch the game from the sideline.

“Our guys – and I didn’t realize this at first – they carried names and faces of those guys around. When the Fort Riley troops were over in Afghanistan, the players were looking at the newsletters, and they were concerned about the soldiers’ well-being,” Sean Snyder said.

While many college football teams have a military appreciation day with an appearance by the color guard and a section of soldiers in the stands, K-State takes the tribute game to a higher level. At Kansas State’s annual “Fort Riley Day” game, more than 1,000 soldiers and family members have been treated to a pregame tailgate party with free food and beer and donated tickets.

The school’s football team also has attended physical training and spent a day in the life of a soldier. The Wildcats have recorded numerous videos and written cards to be shared with the unit through their deployments. The Fort Riley troops in return spend personal time with K-State coaching and support staffs.

The partnership between Fort Riley and the football team also has impacted other sports on the Manhattan campus. Each of the university’s sports have paired with a designated unit on campus to begin their own partnerships and support systems.

In an extensive 2013 article in the Kansas City Star Magazine, titled “K-State athletes and Fort Riley soldiers join forces,” Cindy Hoedel wrote that “the football partnership helped start a bigger relationship between the university and Fort Riley in 2008. What separates the K-State/Fort Riley partnership from military outreach programs at other universities is support from the top leaders of each institution.”

Hoedel’s article mentioned a visit to troops in Iraq in 2010 by Kansas State President Kirk Schulz and three faculty members. The group flew by Black Hawk helicopters and traveled by mine-resistant vehicles as they lived in troop housing for five days to see what the soldiers were experiencing.

“I don’t know how many university presidents have flown to Iraq,” said former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, a Kansas State alum, current university president and a retired four-star general in the Air Force. “That speaks volumes.”

The Star Magazine article noted that other universities and colleges near military bases, Louisville, Texas-San Antonio, Syracuse and San Diego State, have approached Kansas State to learn how its military partnership works. Interest is also on the military side.

ESPN Events

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football

AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Florida); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Frisco Bowl (Frisco, Texas); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Collegiate Basketball

AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Hartford, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 presented by State Farm (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

Media Contacts

Tim Simmons, Armed Forces Merit Award Coordinator at 720/244-650 or bfishinc@aol.com

Steve Richardson, Football Writers Association of America at 214/870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com

Bryan Delgado, Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at 817/810-0266 or bryan.delgado@espn.com

Kenny Lannou, Senior Associate A.D. for Communications and Public Relations, K-State Athletics, 785/532-7977 (office), 785/587-7867 (mobile), klannou@kstatesports.com

Anna Negron, ESPN Media, 860-766-2233, anna.m.negron@espn.com

Finalists for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award revealed Reply

Fort Worth, Texas, November 7 — Led by the Kansas State football  program, the finalists have been named for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit  Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

A nominee for the Armed Forces Merit Award since 2013, the Kansas  State football team has been a finalist for the  Lockheed Martin Armed  Forces Bowl and FWAA recognition the past two years.

The Kansas State relationship with Fort Riley started in 2006 when Lt. Col. Patrick Frank approached former Wildcat coach Ron Prince about partnering his  soldiers with the Kansas State student-athletes.  The partnership has  continued with legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder.

Other finalists for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA, are Jose Renderoskeiffer, a Navy veteran and a graduate  linebacker at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rory Coleman, an Army veteran and senior defensive lineman at the University of Central Florida, and Dr. Chris Howard, a retired Air Force reserve lieutenant  colonel and the President at Robert Morris University.  Dr. Howard  also serves as a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

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 with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college  football.”

With 38 nominations considered this fall, the award’s  selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will determine the 2017  recipient.

Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a defensive end at Middle Tennessee  State University where he competed four seasons for the Blue Raiders, was honored last November as the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit  Award presented by the FWAA.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012 followed by Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015.  All four individuals were U. S. Army veterans before playing college
football.

38 Armed Forces Merit Award nominations announced

Fort Worth, Texas  A total of six collegiate players, one college president, 14 college coaches, 12 college and university administrators, two college referees and three programs have been nominated for the 2017 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

With 38 nominations to be considered, the award’s selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will determine the 2017 recipient. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA President David Jones of the PA Media Group (Downingtown, Pa.) will make the announcement the week of Nov. 5.

Steven Rhodes, a defensive lineman at Middle Tennessee State University and four-year letterman for the Blue Raiders, was the 2016 recipient. Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was the initial recipient in 2012. Other honorees have been Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015.

Programs

  • Kyle Boyd, Sophomore fullback, Baylor University (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Ben Brickman, Junior wide receiver, Syracuse University (Marine Corps)
  • Rory Coleman, Senior defensive lineman, University of Central Florida (U. S. Army)
  • Christian Hill, Senior defensive lineman, Arizona State University (U. S. Air Force)
  • Damian Jackson, Freshman defensive lineman, University of Nebraska (U. S. Navy)
  • Jose Renderoskeiffer, Graduate linebacker, Fairleigh Dickinson University (U. S. Navy)
  • College Football Playoff
  • Dr. Chris Howard, President, Robert Morris University (U. S. Air Force)

Football Staff

  • Troy Calhoun, Head Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jake Campbell, Assistant Backfield, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Lt. Col. Robert Green, Cornerbacks, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Steed Lobotzke, Offensive Line, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Ben Miller, Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Maj. Dylan Newman, Defensive Assistant/Senior Military Rep., United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • GySgt. Tim Owens, Assistant Director of Player Development, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • John Rudzinski, Secondary, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Steve Russ, Assistant Head Coach/Def. Coordinator/Defensive Backs, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mike Thiessen, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jim Turner, Offensive Line Coach, Texas A&M University (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Mike Viti, Assistant Football Coach/Fullback, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Maj. Ross Weaver, Assistant Offensive Line Coach, United States Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Mick Yokitis, Wide Receivers, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)

Football Support Staff

  • Jordan Simmons, Strength & Conditioning, Nevada (U. S. Army)
  • Rusty Whitt, Strength & Conditioning, Texas Tech University (U. S. Army)
  • College & University Administration
  • Col. Jon Aytes, Officer Representative, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Cmdr. H. Lamont Gourdine, Deputy Director of Athletics (Military), United States Naval Academy (U.S. Navy)
  • Cmdr. Kevin Haney, Faculty Representative, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Brian Hill, Vice Director of Athletics, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Jim Knowlton, Director of Athletics, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Lance E. LeClere, Orthopedic Surgeon, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • LTC John Nawoichyk, Assistant AD/Military Operations, United States Military Academy (U. S. Army)
  • Capt. Scott Pyne, M.D., Team Physician, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Navy)
  • Steve Senn, Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel, United State Air Force Academy (U. S. Air Force)
  • Capt. Ryan Tully, Military Liaison, United States Naval Academy (U. S. Marine Corps)
  • Referees
  • Raymond Daniel, Official, Mid-American Conference (Army National Guard)
  • Steve Thielen, Official, Mid-American Conference (U. S. Army)

Football dreams come full circle for Armed Forces Merit Award winner

Steven Rhodes claimed the Armed Forces Merit Award in 2016. The FWAA helps name the winner of the Merit Award along with the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

From Middle Tennessee Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. Middle Tennessee defensive end Steven Rhodes’ incredible four-year journey will come full circle in the next week.

Armed Forces Merit Award winner Steven Rhodes, a former Marine and defensive end at Middle Tennessee State, is flanked by
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State (left) and Athletic Director Chris Massaro at the FWAA’s Awards Breakfast on Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa.
Photo by Melissa Macatee.

The senior Marine veteran and Antioch, Tenn., native will accomplish what he calls “two of the biggest goals in my life” all in the span of eight days. He will graduate from college on Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and then attend rookie minicamp with his hometown Tennessee Titans from May 12-14.

“Finally my dream is starting to take place,” Rhodes said. “It’s something not everyone can say they’ve done, to graduate college and get a chance in the NFL. Especially not having any student loans, that’s even better.

“There’s nothing like playing the sport you love and playing for your hometown. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’m excited to be a Titan.”

It’s often said that students mold the person they will become during their four years at college, and especially during their freshman year. But, for Rhodes, that was a little different.
He wasn’t an 18-year-old kid moving away from home for the first time in his life when he stepped onto MT’s campus in 2013. He was a 25-year-old man who had spent the previous five years fighting for his country as a Marine.

“I think the biggest thing I learned [at college] was I can be pushed to new limits and pushed a lot further than I thought I could go,” Rhodes said. “It’s been a lot being a husband, a father, a full-time college student and a football player. It’s like having 10 jobs and it was very difficult, but it definitely helped mold me, and coming through those tough times made me a better man and a stronger man.”

Rhodes became a beloved member of the Murfreesboro community, being awarded the Daily News Journal Person of the Year award in 2013 during his freshman season for the Blue Raiders. He also became a consistent player on the field and got better each season.

He had never played defensive end before coming to MT, but improved with every game and every practice and capped his four years with a career season in 2016. He set personal highs in tackles (41), tackles for loss (8), quarterback hurries (7) and sacks (4.5), leading the team in the latter three statistics.
How Rhodes was able to focus on his craft as much as he was able to over his four years wasn’t just a credit to his own work ethic. It was a family affair.

He and his wife, Adrienne, have two children: Kameron, 5, and Devon, 4. It was their support and flexibility that helped their dad reach his ultimate dreams.

“My family is my support system, my backbone through all of this,” Rhodes said. “My wife was the one who encouraged me to keep going and never give up, and my two boys, my parents, my brother they all kept me going and kept me motivated and helped make this possible.”

As he prepares this week to showcase his talents in front of the Titans, Rhodes will take some time to reflect back on the special four years he’s had. But, sticking true to what he learned as a Marine, he knows there’s plenty of work to do in order to prove himself, and he’s too disciplined to take a break.

The Armed Forces Merit Award recipient also knows there are a lot of people from another family, his fellow veterans, who are inspired by his story, and he won’t let them down.

“It’s possible to achieve your dreams after active duty, and I’m glad I can show that,” Rhodes said. “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster … but everything worked out how it was supposed to.

“I’m just really excited and ready to get back to work and back to football.”

 

Middle Tennessee State’s Steven Rhodes named fifth winner of Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — U.S. Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a senior defensive end at Middle Tennessee State University, is the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

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, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Steve Richardson, the FWAA’s executive director, announced here Friday that Rhodes, who will be 28 in 11 days, is the 2016 recipient.

Steven Rhodes

Steven Rhodes

A seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials selected Rhodes from a list of 16 nominations for the 2016 award.  Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012, followed by Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014 and Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015.  All four individuals were U.S. Army veterans before playing college football.

“On this very special day, Veterans’ Day 2016, we are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to name Steven Rhodes as the fifth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award,” said Ringler. “We had a list of 16 outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to select only one each year when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that the FWAA is “pleased to team with Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to recognize Rhodes’ achievement as a veteran who used his armed forces experiences to benefit his teammates and coaches at Middle Tennessee State University.  The FWAA also salutes the other 2016 nominations for their contributions on-and-off the field of play.”

Rhodes joined the Middle Tennessee football program after serving five years in the U.S. Marines.  Following his enrollment in 2013, the NCAA originally ruled that Rhodes only had two years of eligibility and would have to sit out the 2013 season since he played recreational football on base for a two-year period.

After Rhodes’ eligibility story went national on August 18, 2013, the next day the NCAA issued a statement saying Rhodes could play immediately and had four years of eligibility. Since the August 2013 ordeal, Rhodes has played in 47 games at Middle Tennessee with 27 career starts, including nine this fall for the 6-3 Blue Raiders.

A 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end and fourth oldest player in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Rhodes is the team’s eighth leading tackler with 29 total stops (18 unassisted), with 4.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections, five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.  For his career, Rhodes has 98 total tackles (63 unassisted).

Following graduation in 2007 from Antioch (Tenn.) High School where he played football, Rhodes enlisted in the Marine Corps as a shoulder injury and financial issues initially kept him from attending college.  Rhodes’ “road” back to college football started three years ago when he was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in New River, N.C.  When he was moved to MCAS Miramar, Calif., he started for the Miramar Falcons in 2012.

Even though he only played one season, his Miramar coaches saw the potential he displayed and helped to make sure he reached his goal.  A former Falcon coach helped Rhodes film his games so he could send them to colleges.  With the film from the games, Rhodes was recruited by Middle Tennessee, the school he had planned on attending before sustaining his shoulder injury.

Rhodes credits the Marines for “his healthy perspective and mental toughness.  What the [Marines] do and what they stand for — honor, courage, commitment — it stands for every aspect of my life.”

Motivated by his family, Rhodes states that his wife (Adrienne, formerly in the Navy but now a stay-at-home mom who home schools their children) and two sons (Kameron and Devon) inspire him to excel on the football field and in the classroom.  Rhodes is pursuing a degree in Organized Communication.  Rhodes met his wife while he was in the Marines and she was in the Navy.

“It’s definitely tough,” Rhodes said. “It’s like having several fulltime jobs. I’m a husband first, then a father, then a student-athlete. My freshman year was the worst — just trying to make that adjustment. My wife and I have gotten on the same page. She’s made it as seamless and worry-free for me as possible. We’re moving toward a common goal. It was a tough ride, but I wouldn’t change any of it. It’s molded me into the man I am today.”

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said Rhodes had leadership qualities as soon as he joined the team, but that it took a while for him to have a big effect on the team because he was only around his new teammates at practice.

“Just because you’re a leader in some other capacity, until you get to know people and people get to know you on a personal level, I think it takes a little bit of time,” Stockstill said. “When he was a freshman, everybody on the outside assumed he was going to be a great leader and all of that, which he was. But it didn’t impact the team because the team didn’t know him. Now, he’s established himself not only as a player but as a person, he’s one of our leaders.”

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.  ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.  Collegiate Football — AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Montgomery Kickoff Classic (Montgomery, Ala.); Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth).  Collegiate Basketball — AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s  Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Uncasville, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); State Farm Armed Forces Classic (Honolulu); State Farm Champions Classic (New York City); Tire Pros Invitational (Orlando, Fla.) and Wooden Legacy (Orange County, Calif.).  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 Mark Anderson of the  Las Vegas Review-Journal, 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 1,300 members.

Media Contacts

Finalists for Armed Forces Merit Award revealed

armed forces merit awardFORT WORTH, Texas — Led by 2015 runner-up Steven Rhodes of Middle Tennessee State University, four individuals and the Kansas State football program have been named as finalists for the 2016 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Other finalists for the 2016 AFMA are Fran McMenamin, a Marine veteran playing  on the offensive line at East Stroudsburg University, Naval Academy outside linebacker coach and Marine Robert Green as well as Texas Tech strength and conditioning coach and Army veteran Rusty Whitt.

The partnership between the K-State football team and the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team brought Soldiers and players together at Fort Riley June 17 for a joint physical readiness training event.  Kansas State has been involved with Fort Riley since 2008.

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 with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

The award’s selection committee is made up of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.  The group reviewed 16 “candidates” for the 2016 honor where Rhodes, McMenamin, Green, Whitt and the K-State football program were confirmed finalists for the award.

Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) was honored as the 2015 recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.  Rhodes, who was also considered for the Armed Forces Merit Award in 2013 and 2014, played in the 2013 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

This year’s recipient will be announced this Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11.  The announcement of the 2016 recipient will be made jointly by Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Executive Director Brant Ringler and FWAA President Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012, Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas topped the AFMA list in 2013 and Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University was honored in 2014.

Photo gallery: FWAA Awards Breakfast

These photos were taken at the FWAA’s annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 11 in Scottsdale, Ariz.  Winners of the 2015 Best Writing Contest as well as the Bert McGrane Award winner were honored, among others.

Photo gallery: FWAA annual meeting, breakfast

There photos by Melissa Macatee were shot at the FWAA’s annual meeting and breakfast on Tuesday Jan. 13, 2015, in Dallas.

Armed Forces Merit Award winners Rodriguez, Boyer in Dallas for championship game

Armed Forces Merit Award recipient headlines FWAA breakfast

DALLAS — With the collegiate football season concluding here Monday with the College Football Playoff’s National Championship game in nearby Arlington at AT&T Stadium, one of the final awards of the 2014 will be presented Tuesday to 27-year old Army veteran who played the past three seasons at Clemson University

Daniel Rodriguez will receive the 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America at the writer’s group annual breakfast Tuesday (January 13) in the Landmark Ballroom at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.  The 8 a.m. breakfast will be followed by the press conference with the winning coach and top players from Monday’s title game featuring the University of Oregon and The Ohio State University.

Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Kirk Bohls, the president of the FWAA, will present the award to Rodriguez, who was named the third recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award this past November on Veteran’s Day.

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