FATE rewards high school athletes
for substance free living leadership
FATE announced its 2012 winners of the Chris Chamberlain Challenge Award, given annually to the outstanding male and female high school athlete in Oklahoma who do the most to promote substance free living on their teams and schools. The award includes a statue of Chamberlain sculpted by artist Scott Stearman, as well as a $1500 scholarship.
The Chamberlain Challenge award is named after Chris Chamberlain, an NFL Linebacker currently with the New Orleans Saints, who led his Bethany High School football team to a state championship after leading them in a pledge to be “substance free”. His video story can be seen on youtube and at the FATE website, www.fate.org. Chamberlain says “We felt like our football team didn’t go as far in playoffs in previous years because some of our teammates were using substances, so we came up with a pledge, to not smoke, to not drink, to not do anything that would hinder us from being our best. Because of the pledge and hard work we won a state championship.” Chamberlain’s coach at the time, Rob Renshaw, commented “The football team changed the attitude of the whole school”.
FATE calls Chamberlain’s story “The Chamberlain Challenge” and the organization challenges high school and college athletes to do something similar with their teams through a free program called “Oklahoma Life of An Athlete” offered by FATE to Oklahoma high schools and colleges. This year’s recipients were chosen as examples of student athletes who displayed the spirit of Chris Chamberlain in living substance free and being a leader in encouraging others to do the same.
The 2012 male athlete award winner is Clay Mattox, a senior at Yukon High School, where he runs cross country and track. Yukon School Superintendent Kent Mathers, who nominated Mattox, wrote: “Clay is a catalyst…for the past six years he has been an active member and student leader of the YuCan Coalition (a substance abuse prevention group in Yukon). He has helped organize fund raisers and lobbied at the state capitol for passage of the Social Host law. You know whenever Clay steps into a classroom or onto a field he is going to perform with class and desire.”
Two athletes from Bethany High School will share the female athlete award. Caitlyn Biggers and Angela Clifton were nominated together by their soccer coach, Angie Kelley. Kelly wrote “In January, our soccer team completed the online “Life of an Athlete” course as a team and the next day Caitlyn and Angela wrote a team pledge to encourage their teammates to refrain from drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances. They did this on their own after watching the Chamberlain video, without any prompting from me. The team commitment included not only staying substance free but also holding each other accountable and thinking of the team before themselves.” The Bethany girls’ soccer team went to the state championship game this year for the first time ever.
Judges for the competition were Chris Chamberlain, Jenni Carlson, sports writer for the Oklahoman, Van Shea Ivan, producer of Oklahoma High School Sports Express, Cherie Myers, long time girls high school basketball coach, Jared Mitchell, State Director for Oklahoma Life of An Athlete, and FATE’s Executive Director, Jim Priest.
Priest said the award is designed to acknowledge students who are not only making good decisions about alcohol and other drugs but providing leadership and “positive peer pressure” like Chamberlain did. “We think the most effective program to reduce alcohol and other drugs is to get students talking to students, encouraging them to make smart choices. That’s what these student athletes have done.”
Priest noted the organization received many excellent nominations and while it made the decision making difficult, it was encouraging to read about the positive things student athletes are doing around the state. “Anyone who knows of a high school athlete making a positive impact in reducing substance abuse should plan to nominate them next year”, said Priest.
The Chamberlain Challenge awards will be given to the athletes on July 11 at the State High School Awards Banquet sponsored by the Jim Thorpe Association and held at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. For more information about the Oklahoma Life of An Athlete program or the Chamberlain award go to www.okloa.org or call 405-202-8863.