Nov. 21, 2011
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -
The football team was honored with the 2011 Disney Spirit Award on Monday, given annually by Disney Sports to college football's most inspirational player or team. Junior long snapper Carson Tinker will accept the award on behalf of the Crimson Tide that was chosen because of its extraordinary efforts last April to aid tornado victims and help rebuild the Tuscaloosa, Ala., community, ultimately bringing much needed hope to the area.
The Alabama student-athletes immediately reached out to support their community - the same people who have supported them religiously year after year. Tinker put his own loss aside to visit with a 10-year-old boy who lost his mother, father and sister in the twister.
Linebacker Courtney Upshaw raised nearly $20,000 in relief funds in his hometown of Eufaula, Ala., while tight end Preston Dial loaded up an 18-wheeler and drove in supplies from Mobile, Ala. Offensive lineman Barrett Jones lugged a chain saw around Tuscaloosa to remove debris from homes and yards. And the University of Alabama Athletic Department contributed $1 million to the UA Acts of Kindness Fund, which provides relief to faculty, staff, and students of The University of Alabama who are experiencing hardship.
"This award does not represent me, it represents our team, our University and the Tuscaloosa community," Tinker said. "Everyone reached out and pulled together as a family in the face of this tragedy. The tornado took so much from us, but with a spirit of hope and a lot of hard work, we have begun the healing process. I am very proud of how this team and this community rallied together after such a devastating storm."
Despite the April tragedy, the Tide is thriving, going 10-1 so far this season and ranking No. 2 nationally. Offering a temporary escape from the devastation, their play on the field has helped turn sorrow and sadness to smiles and cheers around Tuscaloosa.
"The compassion and generosity that these young men displayed were instrumental in the rebuilding efforts of a community in dire need of physical as well as emotional help, and Disney Sports is proud to honor them for their contributions," said Disney Sports executive Faron Kelley. "The Crimson Tide and the University of Alabama have shown that sports can have a healing power far beyond the field or court."
Kelley will present the award, along with a special video message from 2010 Disney Spirit Award winner D.J. Williams, during The Home Depot College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort on Dec. 8. The 21st annual awards show is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. CT and will be televised live on ESPN.
Tinker and his teammates become the 16th recipient of the award, joining past honorees Daniel Huffman (1996), Dwight Collins (1997), Matt Hartl (1998), East Carolina University (1999), Hameen Ali (2000), the United States Service Academy football teams (2001), Dewayne White (2002), Neil Parry (2003), Tim Frisby (2004), the Tulane University football team (2005), University of Louisville band member Patrick Henry Hughes (2006), Zerbin Singleton (2007), Tim Tebow (2008), Mark Herzlich (2009) and Williams (2010).