Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team

Lou Gehrig
Phi Delta Theta

To further Lou Gehrig’s legacy and his storied baseball career that began at the collegiate level at Columbia University, we are proud to partner with Lou's college fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, and announce the inaugural Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team to annually recognize the giving character and community impact of collegiate baseball players.

Honorees were nominated by their schools, and the team was selected based on outstanding achievements in three key areas:

  • Demonstrating a substantial commitment to their community through service and philanthropy.
  • Embodying the generous spirit and character of Lou Gehrig.
  • Making remarkable contributions to the success of their respective teams.

Following the selection of the team, the player who garnered the highest number of votes by the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Voting Committee was named Captain and has the opportunity to collaborate with Phi Delta Theta and the Live Like Lou Foundation to organize an on-field ceremony dedicated to honoring him and contributing $4,000 to support a family affected by ALS in the local community.

As a result of a tremendous response that resulted from the call for nominations, Phi Delta Theta and Live Like Lou have named the Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team, an honorable mention team, and an Honorary Captain to recognize an individual associated with college baseball who has made a lasting impact on the ALS community.

The 2024 Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team

John West – Boston College

John West is a living testimony of what it means to be a man In Service to Others. His magnetic personality makes his contributions to the community even richer. Participating in the Stuff the Truck campaign this year, John helped the Boston College athletic department pack 4,245 Thanksgiving meal bags with Catholic Charities for families from vulnerable backgrounds.

West, also a proven advocate of inclusion, has played an integral role in fostering inclusive environments at Boston College, serving as a member of Team Impact, matching children facing serious illness and disability with college teams to create life-changing experiences. He actively ensures that their Team Impact teammate Miles is welcomed at practices, games, and events. Additionally, John has been active with the Brighton Main Street Business Trick or Treat, the Pete Frates Foundation, ALS Family Charitable Foundation, Boston College Youth Little League Day, and is the recipient of the Welles Crowther #19 award, given to the Boston College athlete who most embodies the motto men and women for others.

Serving as the men’s baseball representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), John has proven to be of unquestionable moral character and a leader for student-athletes at Boston College and nationwide, advocating for enhancing the student-athlete experience. This past fall, SAAC was able to log over seven hundred new donors through the Project Life Bone Marrow registration drive. John’s exemplary actions resulted in him being invited to the National Medal of Honor Learning and Education Center Luncheon, where he met and heard from former National Medal of Honor recipients, our country’s most prestigious award and a symbol of the pinnacle of leadership.

Team Captain and pitching ace on the field, John led the BC baseball team to its most successful season in school history. He made 17 appearances and was the team leader in opposing batting average (.208), runs allowed (35), hits allowed (52), and second on the team in ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts, and games started.

“At the age of thirteen, John was by his dad’s side as he battled ALS for four years. John lost his dad and committed to fighting the disease ALS. John’s unselfish and infectious personality make him a beacon of energy and positivity for anyone who meets him. He is the ultimate teammate and ultimate role model for serving others in all his circles. John stands for everything you want in a player, a student, and a citizen. We are lucky and very grateful to have John as part of our lives as we continue to fight against ALS.” -The Frates Family

As Captain of the Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team, John will be recognized during the team’s annual ALS Awareness Game during the upcoming season and will collaborate with Phi Delta Theta and the Live Like Lou Foundation to support a family affected by ALS in the local community.

RJ Austin – Vanderbilt University

RJ Austin is more than just a standout player on the field; he’s a pillar of support within his Atlanta and Nashville communities. Passionate about nurturing the next generation, Austin has dedicated his time to organizing and leading free baseball clinics and camps for youth members. His commitment to empowering young athletes reflects his belief in the importance of giving back and fostering a love for the game among the youth. RJ also takes pride in supporting Special Olympics Tennessee as they provide year-round sports training and competition for more than 17,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

On the field, Austin’s contributions to his team during the 2023 season were nothing short of remarkable. His performance earned him the prestigious titles of MVP and All-Tournament at the SEC Tournament. Throughout the season, Austin consistently delivered clutch plays, from driving in crucial runs to hitting game-changing home runs. His ability to come through in pivotal moments showcased his resilience and determination, propelling his team to victory time and time again.

With each swing of the bat, Austin left an indelible mark on the field, demonstrating his skill and passion for the game. His memorable moments, such as hitting his first collegiate home run and delivering game-winning hits against top-ranked opponents, solidified his status as a key player on his team. Both on and off the field, Austin’s impact resonates, embodying the essence of a true team player and community leader.

“RJ is a wonderful representation of what a baseball player looks like. He plays the game with tremendous passion and aggressiveness which aligns with everything that Lou Gehrig was. RJ‘s spirit goes well beyond the baseball field, as he is continually impacting young kids, older adults, and a special commitment to community service. His combination of human spirit, care, and competitiveness, make him a very special human being.” -Tim Corbin, Head Baseball Coach, Vanderbilt

Karter Fitzpatrick – Wayne State University

Karter Fitzpatrick accumulated forty-five service hours during the 2023 season, bringing his total community service hours as a student-athlete at Wayne State to 125 hours. He has been a key player in the Detroit Lions Game on Cancer initiative in partnership with the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, aiding in raising to support those battling the disease. Karter and his teammates raised more than $126,000 directed at this initiative. Additionally, Karter has contributed much time to grow the game of baseball amongst Detroit youth by volunteering with the Detroit Tigers Play Ball kid’s camps, the Courageous Inc. MLK day camp, and youth baseball practice. Beyond Fitzpatrick’s work to raise money for cancer and giving back to the game of baseball, he has dedicated many hours to improving the community in Detroit by contributing to shoe and clothing drives, lunch-making, clean-up efforts, and donating equipment. Some of the organizations he has provided service to include the Detroit Police Athletic League, Warrior Strides, #Lunchbag Detroit, the Carleton Clothes Drive, and Team Impact.

Beyond Fitzpatrick’s external volunteering, he has been a consummate student-athlete by finding time to further his professional development through working as an engineering aid for the community advancement firm OHM Advisors.

On the field, Karter Fitzpatrick amassed a 10-1 record, eight complete games, and. 2.66 ERA during the 2023 season. He is the reigning Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Pitcher of the Year from a Wayne State Warrior team that won the regular season and conference tournament championships with a program record of forty-two wins. In part due to his 3.72 GPA as a civil engineering major, Karter was awarded the GLIAC Conference Commissioner’s Award for academic and athletic excellence. Fitzpatrick was also named NCBWA Second Team All-American, to the ABCA/Rawlings, NCBWA, and D2CCA All-Region First Teams, and to the All-GLIAC and All-Tournament Teams.

“Lou Gehrig was the consummate professional and an exceptional example for all aspiring student-athletes. Karter Fitzpatrick has successfully produced a student-athlete resume across his collegiate tenure. His competitive preparation and success on the field of play is a result of his determination, commitment, and work ethic. His athletic success is highly complimented by his academic achievement including a 3.7+ GPA within a demanding Civil Engineering curriculum. In addition, he has graciously generated approximately 125 hours of community outreach impacting our Detroit region by helping raise funding, awareness, or simply providing volunteer service. This is a tremendous achievement for Karter, one that he has earned through individual accomplishment, but also through the support of his teammates. Within the game of baseball, we all strive to reach the leadership of Lou Gehrig. This is a great honor in the direction of Karter Fitzpatrick and our program is very proud of him.” -Ryan Kelley, Head Baseball Coach, Wayne State

Rodney Green Jr. – University of California, Berkeley

With an eye for empowering the youth in his communities, Rodney Green Jr. (RJ) uses his platform as a college baseball player to give back. Through Loyal to My Soil, RJ works at youth camps and clinics geared towards re-engaging local youth with the game of baseball. With the Richmond (CA) Police Activities League, he helps with various events, including backpack giveaways, turkey drives, toy drives during the holidays, as well as volunteer umpiring for his hometown Richmond Little League. With The Black Neighborhood, an organization dedicated to providing safe spaces for black communities, Rodney has volunteered with food and clothing drives for the homeless and facilitates youth empowerment programs that promote wellness, connection, and progress.

Rodney was a team captain and one of the most consistent performers, both offensively and defensively, for the Cal Golden Bears in 2023. He started and played in all fifty-two games, hitting .293 with fifty-one runs, sixty-one hits, fourteen HR, thirty-eight RBI, thirty-two BB and twenty-nine stolen bases. RJ’s performance led to being named to the 2023 All Pac-12 First Team, the 2023 All Frisco Tournament Team, and he was selected to the 2023 United States Collegiate National Team.

“RJ is a beacon of hope for his community. His success has encouraged more kids locally to follow their academic and athletic dreams.” -Noah Jackson, Associate Head Coach, University of California, Berkeley

Ben King – Georgia Institute of Technology

Ben King is the epitome of a Georgia Tech student-athlete. He excels in the classroom and on the field and devotes time to the community—becoming one of the most engaged student-athletes on campus. With his desire to go into medicine, Ben diligently seeks volunteer efforts in Atlanta that help others while learning in his field. His community involvement includes:

  • Good Samaritan Health Center, Atlanta, Volunteer Medical Assistant Intern
  • Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Volunteer
  • Dream on 3, Captain and Founder of Georgia Tech Collegiate Dream Team
  • Covid-19 SOS Hotline, Volunteer Caller
  • Georgia Tech Student-Athlete Advisory Board, President, Vice President, Chairman
  • NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
  • ACC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Representative
  • Boy Scouts of America Peach of an Athlete Award Winner
  • ACC Top Six for Service

Now Team Captain for the Yellow Jackets, Ben overcame a number of injuries during his first two years on The Flats to become Georgia Tech’s most consistent pitcher last season, making twenty-five appearances, and registering a 6-2 record with a 3.73 ERA. Ben is a four-time ACC Academic Honor Roll recipient and member of the 2023 All-ACC Academic Team and CSC Academic All-District.

“Ben King has been a role model for our team for his entire career, and I can’t think of anyone better suited for this award. He went from a walk-on to our most valuable pitcher in 2023. He has been president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board at Tech, an academic All-District selection in an ultra-competitive biology major at Georgia Tech, and a team captain. In addition to this, he has been a part of several community service projects with our team and other athletes at Tech. Next year, he will enter medical school and ultimately enter a profession to continue serving others. For our season this year, he will wear No. 21 to honor former MLB and Georgia Tech pitcher Jim Poole who passed away this year from ALS.” -Danny Hall, Head Baseball Coach, Georgia Tech

Nick Kurtz – Wake Forest University

Dedicated to both on-field excellence and community service, Nick Kurtz is a multifaceted individual making an impact both within and beyond the ballpark. Off the field, Nick has been a beacon of support for various causes, organizing events like Seizure Awareness Day on campus and volunteering with organizations like the North Carolina Epilepsy Alliance and NC Fusion Soccer Club. His involvement in annual traditions like Hit the Bricks, A Climb to Remember, and Festival on the Quad showcases his commitment to charitable endeavors, benefiting causes ranging from cancer research to community engagement.

On the diamond, Nick is a force to be reckoned with. His standout 2023 performance saw him earn All-American and All-ACC honors and led to being named a 2024 preseason All-American, All-ACC, and members of the Golden Spikes Watch List. With an impressive stat line, including a second-place finish in multiple categories within the ACC and top-10 national rankings in various offensive metrics, Nick consistently showcased his prowess at the plate. Notably, his explosive start to the season, highlighted by multiple home runs and RBI, earned him national recognition and set the tone for a remarkable campaign. His defensive prowess, demonstrated by his elite glove work and near-perfect fielding percentage, further solidified his status as a standout player.

Beyond the numbers, Nick exemplifies leadership and dedication, evident in his consistent performance, resilience, and contribution to team success. Whether making plays on the field or making a difference in the community, Nick continues to inspire both teammates and fans alike with his passion for the game and commitment to making a positive impact wherever he goes.

“Not only is Nick a great baseball player, but he also represents everything we are trying to build here at Wake Forest. His hard work and dedication to this game have made him one of the top prospects in all of college baseball, but what people might miss is that Nick is involved far beyond the field. He is passionate about the causes he puts his heart into, and I’m so proud of how he represents our program." -Tom Walter, Head Baseball Coach, Wake Forest

Brandon Peace – Ripon College

Brandon Peace personifies the core values of intellectual inquiry, integrity, stewardship, and service that Ripon College works to instill in its students. He participates in the Foundation Walk for the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, rings bells during the holidays for the Salvation Army, coaches youth baseball camps, assists in holiday book drives, and participates in the St. Ben’s Community Meal Program. In addition, Brandon contributes to the ALS Association of Wisconsin and the Live Like Lou Foundation.

On campus, Brandon is a member of the Order of Omega, a member of Phi Epsilon Kappa, holds the position of warden for the Wisconsin Gamma Chapter of Phi Delta Theta, is a member of the 2024 Ripon College Senior Class Gift Committee, and is a member of the Ripon College 1851 Club, a philanthropic organization that supports Ripon College’s mission and provides resources for the enhancement of campus life. Moreover, Brandon has been named to the dean’s list three times and Academic All-Midwest Conference twice.

In 2023, Brandon became one of Ripon’s go-to guys out of the bullpen and had the ability to spot-start. He was second on the team in appearances and was almost always used in high-leverage situations.

“This is my twenty-third-year coaching at Ripon College, and Brandon has proven to be one-of-a-kind. He is easily one of the most loyal and simply all-around generally great people I have ever coached. He is continually looking for things that will benefit the greater good and will always give you everything he has to offer. His all-around college experience is simply the tip of the iceberg for his impact as he moves beyond his college years.” -Eric Cruise, Head Baseball Coach, Ripon
“Brandon is excelling academically as a double major in business management and exercise science with a minor in sociology. He has received multiple awards showcasing his academic and athletic success, and he assumes leadership roles on the field, in the classroom, and within the campus community. I am particularly impressed with his recognition of the importance of philanthropy; I was delighted to award him the unique honor as an undergraduate member of the Ripon College 1851 Club, reflecting his own giving and his role on the Ripon College Class Gift Committee.” -Dr. Victoria N. Folse, Ripon College President

Colton Stegman – Union College (KY)

The Bulldog baseball team received the 2023 Union College Community Service Team of the Year Award, and senior utility player Colton Stegman led the way in every campus or community service project where the baseball team contributed. While maintaining a 4.0 fall GPA and a 3.75 spring GPA, the importance of both campus and community service is clear when looking at Colton’s resume. On campus, Colton volunteered his time through many small but important acts – removing weeds, maintaining rock beds, pressure washing and painting athletic stands, volunteering at every football game (parking, grill, chain crew, ball boy), serving as a timer and lap counter at swim meets, and helping to maintain the softball field.

In the Barbourville, Kentucky community, Colton volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club, the City of Barbourville, and the East Barbourville Baptist Church through Halloween and Easter activities, Christmas backpack drives, youth play times, and golf events.

On the field, Colton was a true utility player for the Union Bulldogs in 2023. He was a staple in the outfield, having played in forty-eight of the team’s fifty games, hit .292 with five home runs and fifteen stolen bases, and filled in at first base when the team’s starter went down for close to ten games. Colton was an integral piece of the team that helped Union win their first conference tournament championship in seventeen years, the first thirty-win season in eight years, and the biggest turnaround in program history.

“Colton is as steady as they come. He just takes care of business on a daily basis in every phase of his life. He is a “first and last” type of young man; the first one to show up and the last one to leave. Academically, he earned both Union College Dean’s List and Presidential Laureates Honors, earning his bachelor’s degree in December, and he is currently working on his MBA. On the field, “Steggy” was a huge part of our championship run last season and is a tremendous leader by example.” -Chris Lewis, Head Baseball Coach, Union College (KY)

Tommy White – Louisiana State University

Third basemen for the 2023 National Champion LSU baseball team, Tommy White donates a portion of his NIL earnings to Empower 225, an organization in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, aimed to empower youth to escape the cycle of violence and poverty by providing them with resources such as educational support, life skills training, career preparedness, housing, and mentorship. The partnership began during the 2023 season, and Tommy has committed to doubling his donation in 2024. Along with his NIL pledge, Tommy actively participates in community service events with the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to Remember to promote awareness of and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and the Miracle League, an organization that gives children with any type of disability or special needs the opportunity to play baseball.

A first-team All-American, Tommy helped lead the Tigers to the 2023 National Championship batting .374 with twenty-four doubles, twenty-four homers, 105 RBI, and sixty-four runs scored. He finished number one in the nation in RBI (105), number three in total bases (198) and number four in RBI per game (1.59). In the SEC, Tommy completed the season number one in RBI, number two in total bases, hits and doubles, number four in home runs, number six in batting average, and number seven in slugging percentage. Voted to the College World Series All-Tournament Team, Tommy batted .351 in eight games with two doubles, two home runs, eight RBI, and five runs scored.

“We are grateful for LSU baseball player Tommy White’s generous support, fueling Empower 225’s mission in 2024. His leadership shines bright as we join hands to uplift at-risk youth in the Baton Rouge community. This young man’s generous donation is a game-changer that will make a lasting impact in 2024 and beyond.” -Empower 225

Honorable Mention Team:

Connor Goodman – University of Maine

Lawson Harrill – Cambell University

Dylan Hoy – University of Louisville

Dylan Jeffries – University of Mount Olive

Jacob Lojewski – Florida Gulf Coast University

Luke Longo – New Jersey Institute of Technology

Mason Nichols – University of Mississippi

Nick Powers – Michigan State University

Joe Sheets – Columbia University

Pete Frates – Boston College (2003-07)

Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, holds a special place in the heart of college baseball and the ALS community. Diagnosed with ALS in 2012, Pete became a beacon of hope and resilience, using his platform to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. His courageous battle against the disease, coupled with his unwavering determination, inspired millions worldwide. Pete and his family, friends, and many, many supporters — collectively known as ‘Team FrateTrain’ — made it their mission to raise education, awareness, and funds for a cure for this dreaded disease. In the process, they helped to create the worldwide sensation ‘Ice Bucket Challenge,’ which raised over $220 million to fight ALS.

Within college baseball circles, Pete’s legacy looms large as a symbol of strength and perseverance. His alma mater, Boston College, and countless other collegiate programs have rallied behind Pete’s cause, organizing fundraisers, awareness campaigns, and tribute events in his honor. Pete’s impact transcends the boundaries of the baseball diamond, as his story continues to motivate athletes, fans, and supporters to join the fight against ALS. Through his tireless advocacy and unyielding spirit, Pete Frates has left an indelible mark on college baseball, inspiring a generation to come together in the quest for a cure and offering solace and support to those affected by ALS.

The Peter Frates Family Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit established to financially assist ALS patients with the enormous financial burden of home health care. As the patient progresses on their ALS journey, these out-of-pocket expenses grow exponentially. Our assistance will help allow these patients to stay in their home surrounded by the love and support of their loved ones where they truly belong.

“Be passionate, be genuine, be hardworking, and don’t ever be afraid to be great.” -Pete Frates

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