Sept. 21, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- A look of shock overcame Aron White's face. What was supposed to be a lunch with a select group of fifth graders from Barrow Elementary became a surprise announcement from Georgia coach Mark Richt that the tight end was one of 11 Football Bowl Subdivision players named to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team.
"I was definitely caught off guard, but at the same time I was just so humbled and honored to be a part of the Good Works team," White said. "I am very proud and this will probably be one of the most distinguished awards that I will ever receive."
White was told that he would be eating lunch with kids who were named Student of the Month in their respective classes. What he didn't know was that the kids were also in on the secret.
"Coming in here, I was really shocked," White said. "Coach Richt came down and gave his announcement, and even the kids knew and they didn't tell me. They even made a banner for me.
"I was kind of mad at them," White joked. "I didn't talk to them for a while, but we made up in the end. They are a great group of kids. It was a lot of fun to eat with them."
Throughout his career at Georgia, White has been an active member of the community. The fifth-year senior spends some of his off time visiting Camps Sunshine and Kudzu, participating in the MLK Day of Service, assisting with Habitat for Humanity, seeing patients at Egleston Children's Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital, playing in the Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer Golf Tournament and talking with local youth at elementary schools and the Boys & Girls Club.
"My parents always taught me to give back," White said. "They taught me that I'm just the same as anyone else. When you are blessed with stuff, it is important to give to those less fortunate. I think it is important to give back, so I try to give my best and give back to the community."
With this mindset, the Columbia, Mo., native said that interacting with young people is one of his favorite ways to give back.
"It is very rewarding in just how excited they get when you walk in and read them a book that their teacher has read to them 20 times," White said. "Just the fact that you are reading it makes them get excited, and that definitely makes you feel good. It is probably the biggest highlight I have had as far as doing community service because you see right there it is an immediate gratification of what you are doing."
White's time and dedication off the field helped make him the 13th Georgia football player selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, the most of any school in the nation. It also marks the seventh player under Richt to receive the honor since his arrival in Athens in 2001.
"I think it speaks volumes for Coach Richt," White said. "He definitely does a good job encouraging us to do community service. It is something that he holds near and dear to his heart, and it is reflected in our actions. It is something that we embrace and run with, and I feel that we do a good job getting out and trying to stay involved in the community."
Athens, Ga. --- Georgia tight end Aron White is one of 11 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players nationwide named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team on Tuesday, one of the most prestigious off-the-field honors in college football.
For 20 years the award, which is administered by the American Football Coaches Association, has recognized a select group of college football players committed to making a difference in their communities. Georgia leads the nation in Good Works team honorees. White is the Bulldogs' 13th selection since the award's inception in 1992.
"We're all very proud of Aron and his accomplishments as a football player, student and citizen," head coach Mark Richt said. "Aron is a great representative of our program, and this honor is well deserved. He joins a great list of former Bulldogs who have earned this recognition. I think it speaks volumes about the quality of our players that the University of Georgia leads the nation in the number of Good Works Team members."
White, 6-4, 239-pound, fifth-year senior from Columbia, Mo., has a lengthy list of community service contributions, including visits to Camps Sunshine and Kudzu, participating in the MLK Day of Service, assisting with Habitat for Humanity, visiting with patients at Egleston Children's Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital, playing in the Bulldogs Battling Breast Cancer Golf Tournament and visiting with local youth at elementary schools and the Boys & Girls Club. White has taken part in additional service projects with his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha.
"I'm extremely honored to be a part of such an elite group of guys," White said. "The AFCA and Allstate only choose 11 (FBS) football players in the nation. I've very honored and blessed to be a part of that group.
"Coach Richt has done a great job of giving us ample opportunities to give back." White continued. "That's something that he believes in and I think it reflects in a lot of the activities of my teammates and myself. It's really important to give back when you do have things or when you are blessed with a position where people look up to you. When I was younger, there were people who came by and spoke to me and it meant a lot to me and really resonated. I took something from it. Setting a good example for young people means the world to me. "
White received his bachelor's degree in Management with a minor in African-American studies last December and was chosen as the student commencement speaker for the undergraduate fall semester graduation ceremonies. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in Sport Management and also is a student-athlete representative on the UGA Athletic Board for 2011-12.
"For two decades this award has represented one of the great aspects of college football by shining a spotlight on the community involvement of its student-athletes," said Mark LaNeve, Allstate executive vice president, marketing & sales operations, who also serves on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team voting panel. "Allstate is proud to partner with the AFCA to present and grow awareness around this award and continues to be inspired by the commitment and dedication of its recipients."
Equally as remarkable as the service contributions of Allstate AFCA Good Works Teams of the past, this year's roster boasts an impressive list of credentials promoting service and volunteerism. From donating bone marrow to a cancer patient to mentoring children home and abroad to playing the piano for hospital patients, the selfless acts of these student-athletes prove that tackles and touchdowns do not have to come at the expense of greatness off the field.
"The tremendous community service activities these young student-athletes participate in is exceptional," said Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association. "These student-athletes have sacrificed their personal time in an attempt to make their communities a better place. We couldn't be more proud to have these players make up the 20th Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. We are also proud to be partnered with Allstate in recognizing these outstanding student-athletes."
Fans will be able to vote for an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain by visiting ESPN.com and searching "Good Works". By viewing the player profiles on the website, fans can learn more about this year's team members and their selfless acts of kindness. The Team Captain and his fellow award recipients will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a special volunteer project leading up to the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team voting panel includes several former Good Works Team members including former Pittsburgh quarterback Alex Van Pelt, former Georgia offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb and former Notre Dame defensive lineman Grant Irons. ESPN personalities Lou Holtz, who also serves as the national ambassador for the program, and Rece Davis are also a part of the voting panel, joined by current AFCA president and Montana State Head Coach Rob Ash, 1987 AFCA President and former BYU Head Coach LaVell Edwards and Allstate executive vice president Mark LaNeve.
To celebrate the 20th year of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Allstate has partnered with college sports website LostLettermen.com to host a series of Q&A interviews with Good Works Team alumni during the 2011 season. To learn more about these past award recipients and where they are now, visit LostLettermen.com and click on the "Allstate" tab.
Georgia's previous Good Works Team honorees are Alec Millen in 1992, Travis Jones in 1993, Brian Smith in 1995, Matt Stinchcomb in 1997 and 1998, Brett Millican in 2000, Jon Stinchcomb in 2001, David Greene in 2003, D.J. Shockley in 2005, Quentin Moses in 2006, Kelin Johnson in 2007 and Jeff Owens in 2009.