The elite national award recognizes exceptional community and campus service. There were 117 national nominees this year, including approximately two dozen from Division III, and Valesano is one of six Division III players on the 11-player team that consists of FCS, Division II, III and NAIA schools.
Another 11-player FBS team includes honorees from Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama, Duke, Southern Cal, Georgia, Nebraska and Auburn.
For the first time, a captain vote is being held online live, and hosted on ESPN.com:
The top overall vote getter will appear on the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show in December.
All 2012 Good Works members will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a youth clinic and be recognized at the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Valesano is the conference's 23rd all-time honoree of the Good Works award. That ranks the MIAC among the top five of all college conferences. Georgia (14), Nebraska (13) and St. Thomas (13) have the most all-time honorees.
Super Bowl champion quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning were members of the 2002 and 1997 Good Works Teams, respectively.
Past Tommie Good Works honorees are Mark Warder (1998), Greg Kaiser (1999), Mike Westland (2000), Brian Brenberg (2001), Andrew Hilliard (2002), John Kaiser (2003), Paul Sommerstad (2004), Ben Kessler (2005), P.J. Theisen (2006); Pat Sommerstad (2007); Mikkel Haugen (2008); and Jeffrey Hilliard (2009).
"Michael Valesano displays unbelievable character and discipline plus an impressive balance in his life," said UST coach Glenn Caruso. "Michael is the consummate team player who is completely selfless and extremely diligent. He works hard for everything he gets on the field. He's more about the 'We' than the 'Me.' He is also a very appreciating young man who firmly believes in earning his way both on and off the field. He has a genuine desire to help people and give back, in the community and on campus."
The Brainerd native is majoring in Operations Management and has contibuted at linebacker throughout his career. He's coming off a medical hardship season in 2011 due to an early-season injury. He was named conference Player of the Week and D3Football.com's Team of the Week on Sept. 3 after his fumble recovery and 11 tackles helped the No. 3-ranked Tommies edge UW-Eau Claire, 27-24.
On his career, Valesano has 49 solo tackles, 32 assisted stops, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions (one returned 56 yards for a touchdown) and one fumble recovery.
Valesano and three classmates have been working to create the Daily Dribble, a non-profit organization in the St. Paul community (in the process of registering as a 501(c) organization). The group has been in discussions with like-minded non-profits, the city of St. Paul, and other businesses to gain support for their idea. The Dribble Daily goal is to help create access to "an environmentally-friendly infrastructure for soccer to be used as a forum, to unite diverse communities, while helping at-risk youth develop into leaders and experience success."
(To learn more, check out the website: www.DribbleDaily.org)
“We want to go into urban areas with high levels of ethnic diversity that are challenged by high poverty and low income," Valesano explained. "Our goal is to develop some sort of soccer infrastructure. Whether that be a turf field, grass field, street court, or roof-top court. We want to create a safe, environmental-friendly space for kids to help bridge the gap between ethnically diverse communities through a common love: the sport of soccer.”
Valsesano previously made a January 2011 service trip to San Lucas, Guatemala through St. Thomas' VISION program. On that four-week trip, he stayed at a church and lived out of a backpack. He joined fellow St. Thomas volunteers in helping rebuild houses that were destroyed by mudslides. They also helped build a 'Women's Center' and a road.
His volunteer service resume also includes:
--Working 12-15 hours per week at a Sport Performance Gym in Woodbury, as strength and speed coach, for youth ages 9-18.
--Volunteer reader at local elementary schools with UST's "Reading Recess” program
--Volunteer at campus’ annual Up ‘til Dawn fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s hospital (multiple years)
--Volunteer with Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity in hometown of Brainerd
--Volunteer at community/neighborhood clean-up
--Volunteered at the National Football Foundation Minnesota banquet (last three years)
--Volunteer at 2011 St. Thomas Football Golf Alumni event
--Volunteer St. Thomas football recruiting functions on-campus during the spring/summer
Click here to view 2012 AFCA news release: