Legendary golfer and University of Arkansas track and field athlete’s exemplary actions, both on and off the field, earn Athletes for a Better World top honor
ATLANTA (April 23, 2013) Professional golfer Jack Nicklaus and University of Arkansas’ track and field athlete Nathanael Franks were announced as the winners of the 9th annual Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup by Athletes for a Better World at an awards banquet at the Atlanta History Center on Tuesday evening. The Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup is presented to two distinguished athletes — one collegiate and one professional — who have made the greatest difference in the lives of others and are regarded as “sports’ greatest citizens.”
Franks, a redshirt sophomore track and field decathlete from Damascus, Oregon, helped his Razorback team during his first year of competition claim the 2012 SEC Triple Crown (Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Titles). Franks was a 2013 SEC Indoor Champion and the Razorbacks were indoor national champions. Despite training five days a week for four hours every day, and busy weekends as a core leader with the International Culture Team, Franks accelerated his studies with heavy course loads that allowed him to graduate this past December after only 2.5 years of college. The unused portion of his Chancellor’s Scholarship became available to benefit others. Franks had a double major in Chemistry and Physics with a 3.9 GPA and minor in history and was able to graduate this past December in only 2.5 years.
Handpicked to perform a trumpet solo at the German Chancellery, office and home of Angela Merkel, Franks prepared Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. When he visits grade schools and retirement homes he prefers the surprise factor of his 14 feet telescopic alphorn. Franks is also involved with Recess, a respite program promoted by 99balloons.org for special-needs children and their families. Vacation time has allowed him to work a week with children in unique settings in Oregon and in Amish Kalona, Iowa. In Guatemala, he taught at Escuela Urbana de Educación and in Mansourieh, Lebanon he was a counselor and instructor at two adventure camps.
“The decathlon has instilled in me the values of tenacity, discipline, team-work, and time management. Mastering the 10 events requires extreme dedication and time, which is especially challenging while balancing a demanding academic schedule,” said Franks. “The decathlon is unique among sports because of the close bonds created among opponents during the two-day event. It is not uncommon to give each other advice and pointers, share food and drink, and even offer motivation, applause, and a clap down the runway. This camaraderie that transcends the competition is priceless.”
Nicklaus, regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, is also known for his strong leadership capability and his constant examples of character and service. At his first PGA Tour in 1962, Nicklaus received the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award and his fame grew from there. Nicklaus holds the record for major championships with a total 18 PGA Tour titles and has the third most PGA Tour victories with 73. His history of reaching out and mentoring young golfers is par to none and he and his wife Barbara currently sit as honorary chairman and active chairwoman of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which is based in their current place of residence North Palm Beach, Florida.
“We are so pleased to have awarded these two outstanding athletes with the Coach Wooden Cup tonight,” said Fred Northup, founder and president of Athletes for a Better World. “It’s rare to find such brilliant athletes who succeed not only on the field, but also strive to make the world a better place. Jack is regarded as probably the best golfer of all time and throughout his time in the professional world he’s been an amazing inspiration and role model.
“Nathanael and the other finalists are leading the way for the next generation and their academic and charity work go above and beyond the expectations of many student athletes. These two are truly admirable and their uplifting natures are exactly what Athletes for a Better World looks to showcase for a brighter future,” Northup said.
Nominations for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup are solicited from all colleges and universities from all divisions. The nominations are reviewed by a screening committee and narrowed to a list of semi-finalists who are then voted on by the Vincent J. Dooley selection committee and the National Electors, representing a group of 100+ voters from around the country.
About Athletes for a Better World: Athletes for a Better World (ABW) was founded by Fred Northup in June of 1998. The organization arose out of a need for positive mentoring of young people in sport. As a result, ABW staff and members have been working to create a sports environment where athletes, coaches, fans, and parents provide leadership that makes an identifiable and measurable difference in society. Our commitment to the positive values of discipline, integrity, respect, cooperation, and compassion is the foundation of our existence. Today, athletes, coaches, and parents involved in more than 20 sports from youth leagues to professional leagues in every state have joined ABW and are following the Code for Living.