Senior defensive back recieves national recognition for charitable work
Sports | Tyler Schmidt for The Clarion
J.D. Mehlhorn's extensive charity work includes volunteering at a neighborhood care program in Lakeville and traveling to Slovakia on a missions trip with Good Sports International. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Sports Information
“It’s a humbling thing and an honor to be nominated for this award because I know there are so many deserving people out there.”
Earlier this fall, senior defensive back J.D. Mehlhorn was selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. In order to be selected for this team, a player has to display exceptional work in the community as well as in the classroom. According to the Allstate Good Works Team criteria, “Nominees have to be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or community service and maintain good grades. Candidates have to display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved.”
Needless to say, Mehlhorn goes above and beyond when it comes to meeting these standards. Over the past few years, Mehlhorn has volunteered at Feed My Starving Children, Adopt-A-Park, and the Neighborhood Care Program in Lakeville – an organization that helps citizens in need.
Mehlhorn’s most impactful volunteering came this past summer when he traveled to Slovakia for a short-term missions trip with Good Sports International. During his time there, he helped by serving the kids through sports.
“There are a lot of kids who come from broken homes, so we just spent time with them, developed connections and relationships, and loved on them,” Mehlhorrn said.
According to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), there were a record 150 nominees for the 2013 Good Works Team.
“This year’s nominees uphold impressive service resumes detailing several unique and inspiring stories of servitude," Executive Director of the AFCA Grant Teaff said.
After the AFCA receives nominees from all over the country, a selection committee sorts through the résumés to determine who is the most qualified for the team and selects 22 players. To put these numbers in perspective, there are 366 Division III football programs in America. If the average roster holds 75 players, there are roughly 27,450 Division III football players. That doesn’t even factor in the Division II players who are also eligible for the team.
When asked about Mehlhorn, Head Coach Steve Johnson said, “He’s a great player, a good kid, and a Godly man. That’s what makes a good citizen.”
Bethel doesn’t nominate a player every year. The coaching staff gets together at the beginning of the year and deliberates as to whether or not they have anybody that stands out in the community and classroom.
“We don’t just nominate somebody every year,” Johnson said. “He’s got to be a ridiculously exceptional guy, and J.D. fits that description.”
With his selection, Mehlhorn joins five former Bethel football alumni to make the team. The most recent member of the team was Reid Veilo, a 2010 graduate of Bethel.
Mehlhorn has found himself a part of an elite group of football players. In joining this year’s Good Works Team, he is in the company of
NFL Superbowl Champions Peyton and Eli Manning who were a part of the Good Works Teams in 1997 and 2002, respectively. Not only that, but members of the selection committee include current University of Texas Head Coach, Mack Brown, and current ESPN sportscaster, Lou Holtz.
Later this fall, Mehlhorn will join the rest of the Good Works Team at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La. to do a service project for youth in the area. There he and the rest of the team will partake in a pep rally and will be honored at halftime of the game.
“I’ve never been to New Orleans, and I’ve never been to a bowl game, so I’m pretty excited,” Mehlhorn said. Mehlhorn feels honored to be recognized. He will look to represent not only the Bethel community, but also selfless athletes everywhere.
“I do what I can to serve my community, but there are still so many deserving guys out there. Now it’s my job to honor all those guys by continuing to serve.”