Fulmer wins award

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer has been named the first recipient of the "Grant Teaff Breaking the Silence Award," presented jointly by the American Football Coaches Association and the Jason Foundation Inc. Clark Flatt, JFI President/CEO, made the presentation Wednesday in San Antonio.

The award is to be given annually at the AFCA Convention to the collegiate coach who has made an impact as an AFCA/JFI Ambassador for youth suicide prevention. Phillip Fulmer is one of more than 100 college coaches across the country who actively serve their communities as ambassadors for the organization, which is waging a battle against the "silent epidemic" of youth suicide.

"What I do has been a labor of love," Fulmer said. "The fact that we're helping young people -- that's why we are in coaching. We all are trying to prevent tragedies that affect not only the individual lives of our youth, but also the lives of families, friends, schools and communities.

"I am appreciative of the honor but much more appreciative of the exposure we have brought to this 'silent epidemic' that is teenage suicide."

Flatt said there never was any doubt who should receive the inaugural award.

"We are where we are with the coaches across the nation and the AFCA just because of Phillip's passion back in 1998," Flatt said.

Fulmer became JFI's national spokesperson in May of that year and convinced a great number of his fellow coaches to join the cause during his 2003 tenure as AFCA President.

"It was very meaningful to me that for the first year the award should go to Phillip," Flatt added. "The college coaches he helped bring aboard have made a tremendous impact."

Flatt said suicide is the third-leading cause of death for ages 15-24 and the second-leading cause for college-age students.

"The first thing we had to do was make people aware of this national health problem," Flatt said. "The coaches do a tremendous job of getting public attention, not in a hysterical way, but in a very factual way of saying that here is a national problem but it is one we can do something about."

Donations of $1,000 will be made to both the AFCA Foundation and the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund in Fulmer's name.

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