Fort Smith native and Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn has selected the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club and Springdale-based A Level Up to receive proceeds from an award he was given by Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Some of the proceeds will also go to Women’s Hope Clinic in Auburn.
In partnership with the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame, Malzahn was recently named the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winner for the Football Bowl Subdivision. In his first year at Auburn, Malzahn turned around a program that finished 3-9 the year before and took the team to the college football national championship. The title game saw Auburn fall to Florida State by a score of 34-31.
As Coach of the Year, Liberty Mutual awarded Malzahn $50,000 to support his favorite charities and $20,000 toward the scholarship fund of the Auburn University Alumni Association.
Jerry Glidewell, director of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club, said officials with the organization are “humbled and honored” to receive $20,000 from Malzahn through the award. Malzahn, whose parents, Edie and Ray Ruhman still reside in Fort Smith, grew up at the club, according to Glidewell.
“Gus Malzahn is a former member and employee of the Evans Boys & Girls Club, where he excelled in basketball, baseball and football during his youth. In his teen years, he began volunteer coaching at the Club, including basketball, football, soccer and baseball. Gus also worked at the Evans unit and was a groundskeeper at Hunts Park. He played baseball for Kerwins American Legion team,” Glidewell explained.
Glidewell said one of Malzahn’s first coaches is still active at the club.
“Malzahn's midget league football coach Adam Webster, has been a volunteer football coach at the Club for the past 40 years, including 36 consecutive seasons with the McDonald’s midget league team,” Glidewell said.
A Level Up seeks to motivate people to move them “a level up” from hopelessness and achieve their full potential through leadership training, life skills building, and hand-on experiences.