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FOOTBALL: Valesano nominated for AFCA service award

St. Thomas University football fifth-year senior Michael Valesano has been nominated for the American Football Coaches Association 2012 Good Works Team.

The award, which recognizes exceptional community service, has 117 national nominees, including approximately 24 in Division III.

The Brainerd native is majoring in operations management and has contributed at linebacker throughout his Tommies career. He’s coming off a medical hardship season in 2011 due to an early season injury.

In his Tommies career, Valesano has 33 solo tackles, 31 assisted stops, six tackles for loss, three sacks, and two interceptions (one returned 56 yards for a touchdown.

Valesano and three classmates have been working throughout 2012 to create the Daily Dribble, a non-profit organization in St. Paul which is in the process of registering as a 501(c) organization). The group has held numerous meetings/discussions with non-profits, the City of St. Paul, and other businesses to gain support for their cause.

Their mission statement: “The Dribble Daily Organization provides accessibility to 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.”

Their website is

“We want to go into urban areas with high levels of ethnic diversity that are challenged by high poverty and low income,” Valesano said in a news release. “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.”

Valesano made a January 2011 service trip to San Lucas, Guatemala, through St. Thomas’ VISION program. On his four-week trip, he stayed at a church and lived out of a backpack. He was part of a group that helped rebuild homes 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 youths 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 Brainerd.

• Volunteer at community/neighborhood clean-up.

• Volunteer at the National Football Foundation Minnesota banquet (last three years).

• Volunteer at 2011 St. Thomas football/golf alumni event.

• Volunteer for St. Thomas football recruiting functions on-campus.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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