Practice Makes Purpose
Our student-athletes rise to every occasion, from juggling the time demands of their sport and academics to reigniting their competitive fire after a disappointing loss. We should rise to meet them—sending a message that because they do their best, we will do our best for them.
In 2010, Giovani Bernard arrived in Chapel Hill with the promise of a great college football career ahead of him. Then, on just the third day of practice, a knee injury ended his season, and his prospects looked dire. True to the Carolina spirit, Bernard refused to let adversity overcome him. He took a medical redshirt and worked to come back stronger than ever. In 2011, he not only returned to the team, he led all freshmen in the country in both touchdowns and yards gained. He received the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award as the league’s Most Courageous Athlete—an honor that shone a national spotlight on the Carolina values of determination and leadership. But he’s just one of many standout student-athletes we’ve supported over the years.
By his mid-20s, Tar Heel and NFL star Jason Brown ’04 had achieved both fame and fortune. But he was looking for something more. After retiring from football in 2012, he established “First Fruits Farm” in Louisburg, N.C., and he and his wife Tay Brown vowed to give away the first fruits of every harvest to the needy. Today, First Fruits Farm donates hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce annually. “Carolina’s mission is not temporary, or superficial,” Brown said. “It’s going to last for generations to come. I wanted to take that vision and apply it to my own life.”
These student-athletes, just a few among hundreds, exemplify our dedication to providing opportunity to outstanding individuals who will excel not just in their chosen sports, but in every facet of their lives.