Oct. 21, 2009
UCLA's Derrick Coleman is the weekly nominee for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA (Football Writers Assn. of America) Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season.
The sophomore running back from Fullerton, Calif., has overcome a severe hearing disability, which is the result of a genetic defect. He began wearing hearing aids at age 4, shortly after it was discovered he was nearly completely deaf.
Coleman hasn't let the disability deter him from earning a scholarship and contributing. He wears hearing aids during practices and games, and long ago learned to read lips.
"Derrick has never used his hearing as an excuse or a crutch," his father, Derrick Coleman Sr., told The Los Angeles Times. "That is what I'm proudest of."
Coleman Jr. was UCLA's second-leading rusher last year, as a true freshman. Through six games this season, he's again the Bruins' second-leading rusher and also contributes on special teams.
When he speaks to students with similar disabilities, he brings a positive message - and an example.
"My message is that they shouldn't be embarrassed about wearing their hearing aids," Coleman said. "Hopefully, listening to my experiences can help them overcome their fears and achieve their goals."
Coleman also told the LA Times, "Don't let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. There are no limits."
For the fourth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 330-member, primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida . The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 5, 2010. In 2013, the OBC will again double-host both the FedEx Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships and Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series. For more information on the 2009-10 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, log on to www.orangebowl.org.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,100 men and women who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at email@example.com or 972-713-6198.
2009 FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 23: D.J. Williams, Arkansas
Sept. 30: Mark Herzlich, Boston College
Oct. 7: Darius Nall, UCF
Oct. 14: Ricky Rosas, USC
Oct. 21: Derrick Coleman, UCLA