Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award

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Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award
Given forCollege football's most inspirational individual or team
CountryUnited States
Presented byDisney
First award1996
Most recentTyler Trent

Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award is presented annually to college football's most inspirational individual or team. The award is one of 21 that are part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA).

Previous winners[edit]

Year Recipient/School
1996 Daniel Huffman, Rossville-Alvin High School (Rossville, Illinois)
Huffman gave up a promising football career to donate a kidney to his grandmother.
1997 Dwight Collins, University of Central Florida
Collins overcame a loss of hearing from meningitis to get a football scholarship at UCF.
1998 Matt Hartl, Northwestern University
Hartl, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1996, returned as a starter in 1997. *The disease returned in 1998, and Hartl died on August 30, 1999, at the age of 23.
1999 East Carolina University
ECU overcame damage to their Greenville, North Carolina, campus from Hurricane Floyd to finish the season 9–3.
2000 Hameen Ali, the College of William & Mary
Ali overcame "a troubled youth, poverty-stricken living conditions and foster homes, among other obstacles."
2001 United States Service Academies
In the aftermath of 9/11, the members of the United States Air Force Academy, United States Military Academy, and United States Naval Academy teams were honored for their academic and athletic achievements, and their commitment to the military.
2002 Dewayne White, University of Louisville
White overcame the loss of both his parents, two fires that destroyed family homes, and a serious knee injury during his senior year of high school, and was selected 2001 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.
2003 Neil Parry, San Jose State University
Parry broke his leg in a game for SJSU; a week later, following an infection and nerve and arterial damage, it was amputated. Three years later, Parry, wearing a prosthetic leg, returned to the field for SJSU.
2004 Tim Frisby, University of South Carolina
Frisby walked on at wide receiver for the Gamecocks at age 39, after a 20-year career in the Army.
2005 Tulane University
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the closure of the campus for the fall semester, Tulane was forced to play all 11 of its games on the road.
2006 Patrick Henry Hughes, University of Louisville
Hughes, Louisville's second recipient, is a member of Louisville's marching band, even though he was born with no eyes and cannot straighten his arms and legs. He shared the award with his father, Patrick John Hughes.
2007 Zerbin Singleton, United States Naval Academy
Singleton overcame personal tragedy and a broken collarbone that initially prevented him from enrolling in Annapolis.
2008 Tim Tebow, University of Florida
Tebow was honored for his "countless hours preaching and providing support to less fortunate people, capitalizing on virtually every opportunity to touch the lives of others."
2009 Mark Herzlich, Boston College
Herzlich was honored for his fight to overcome Ewing's sarcoma, and inspiring his teammates and other football teams to raise money for cancer research.
2010 D.J. Williams, University of Arkansas
Williams, his mother and two sisters fled their home in Dallas to escape a drug-addicted and abusive father. They landed in Arkansas, where they put down roots of their own. Williams used his stature on the Razorbacks football team and spread his story and message to others in groups like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program, the local Boys and Girls Clubs and Children's Hospital.
2011 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team
The Alabama football team was honored for their collective efforts to assist in the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa following the April 27, 2011, tornado that devastated the city. The award was accepted by long snapper Carson Tinker who suffered a broken wrist when he was thrown from his home during the storm, with his girlfriend being one of the 43 fatalities attributed to the storm in Tuscaloosa.[1]
2012 Nate Boyer, University of Texas at Austin
The Longhorns long snapper was recognized for his service as a Green Beret and his work with Darfur refugee camps.
2013 Devon Walker, Tulane Green Wave
Devon Walker has "exhibited tremendous courage and perseverance following a severe spinal cord injury last season, and has become a motivational figure for the football team, the university and the New Orleans community."[2]
2014 Sterling Shepard, Bob Stoops; University of Oklahoma
Stoops and Shepard formed an inspirational bond from tragic death of former Sooners receiver, and Sterling's father, Derrick Shepard 15 years ago. Derrick Shepard was graduate assistant coach and former receiver at the university. Stoops became a father figure to the then six year old Sterling.[3]
2015 Hank Goff, Concordia University (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
"After a nine-month combat stint in Afghanistan in April 2008, Goff struggled with post-combat trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to depression and excessive drinking. It was a dark period during which Goff said he felt like a monster. Goff credits football with helping him find his way back to the light. Today, at the advanced football age of 28, Goff has become a stellar Division II football player (this year, he was a preseason second-team All-American) who has begun to counsel fellow veterans coping with similar post-war challenges."[4]
2016 James Conner, University of Pittsburgh
Returned from a December 2015 diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma and subsequent chemotherapy to run for over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016.[5]
2017 University of Iowa
Created the "Kinnick Wave", in which fans turn toward the children's hospital that overlooks Kinnick Stadium and wave toward patients and their families watching the game from the hospital.[6]
2018 Tyler Trent, Purdue University
Tyler gained notoriety with the university after receiving chemotherapy and camped outside Ross Ade Stadium before the 2017 homecoming game. In 2018, he grew to national lore by predicting Purdue would beat then ranked #2 Ohio State in Tyler's first game back to campus since entering hospice care. Tyler celebrated with the team on the field and in the locker room after the win. Tyler's story has generated thousands of donations for cancer research and created an endowment with the Purdue Cancer Center. Tyler died from the rare bone cancer osteosarcoma on January 1, 2019, at the age of 20.[7]


  1. ^ Deas, Tommy (November 22, 2011). "Alabama wins Disney Spirit Award for efforts following storm". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  2. ^ "Tulane University's Devon Walker to Accept 2013 Disney Spirit Award". Disney Sports News. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Disney Sports Spirit Award and The Home Depot College Football Awards Show". Disney Sports News. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Hank Goff to receive 2015 Disney Sports Spirit Award Thursday on ESPN". Concordia University, St. Paul Athletics. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  5. ^ Eisenberg, Matt (December 8, 2016). "Holly Rowe, Shelley Smith present James Conner with Disney Sports Spirit Award". ESPNW. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  6. ^ Fry, Darrell (November 20, 2017). "Disney Salutes the 'Kinnick Wave' with the 2017 Disney Sports Spirit Award". Walt Disney World. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  7. ^ Murphy, Dan (January 1, 2018). "Tyler Trent, cancer patient who inspired many, dies at 20". ESPN. Retrieved January 1, 2018.