Nate Casey, 21, senior linebacker for the Davidson College Wildcats, has been named to the 25th anniversary 2016 Allstate AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) Good Works Team.
On Sept. 15, during what Casey thought was just the kick off for “Tigers on the Prowl” initiative at Davidson Elementary School, Davidson Allstate Agent Robert Chester presented his trophy during a surprise celebration on the ball field.
Being named to the team is a national honor for college football players whose charitable involvement and community service off the field made them stand out among the more than 50,000 student-athletes who participate in the sport. Casey is one of the 24 team members who will come together for a community project in New Orleans before the 2017 Allstate Sugar Bowl, where the 2016 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team will be honored at half time.
Head coach Paul Nichols said the Wildcats recruited Casey because of his family background. There have been three Allstate AFCA Good Works Team members from Davidson in the 25 years since the honor began – two of those are from the 12-sibling family of Ron and Ester Casey in Tega Cay, S.C.
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Casey’s older brother Dan won the honor in 2014 and now he will follow in his footsteps. Nichols said he was, “not sure if they’re the only brother combination to ever be on it (the team),” but they both are examples of the type of athletes that Davidson is seeking.
“They (the Casey family) are all about making sure they leave places better than they found it and they most certainly think of others before they think of themselves,” said Nichols.
Casey said that his drive to serve others comes from his faith and his family. “I believe that we are called to take care of the poor and destitute,” he said.
Leading other student athletes in missions to Costa Rica and Grenada gave Casey the international outreach while he also served close to home.
Casey found additional inspiration while working with Speak Up Magazine – a street newspaper for the homeless in Charlotte – and brought the publication to Davidson, helping to bring the plight of the homeless in the area to light.
In 2014, Casey spent eight days living on the streets to create a documentary for Speak Up to heighten awareness of the homeless. Casey said working with Speak Up, “Telling people’s stories, giving them a voice and bringing dignity to their lives,” has been an “awesome opportunity.”
Many of the stereotypes faded away as he lived with the homeless on the streets. “We assume that they (the homeless) are drug addicts or alcoholics and in reality a lot of the people have gone through other life experiences that have led them to the streets.”
Citing his full, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. schedule, Casey said his driving motivation is, “My faith, I am called to do more than go to school and play football.”
Crediting Davidson College and the people he has interacted with during his time there for helping him Casey said, “I would challenge people to step out of their comfort zone to make a difference because it is amazing and you never know when that next relationship is around the corner. Those relationships can really change your life and help you to change others’ (lives).”
Casey said he doesn’t think he will go any further with football after graduation and may apply for fellowships to attend graduate school next year. He hopes to take his assistance to the homeless internationally while he continues to spend time organizing weekly street outreach programs that provide food and other basics for the homeless.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the players selected this year go to the American Football Coaches Association web site, under 25th Anniversary Good Works Team announced at www.afca.com/article/article.php?id=2784.