TEMPE, Ariz. – The Tempe Sports Authority Foundation has announced the recipients of its 24th Annual Courage Awards, including two Sun Devils in head men’s tennis coach Matt Hill and football student-athlete Tim White. The Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is the third honoree for this year.
The Courage Awards celebrate those who have shown courage and heroism in circumstances of adversity.
Two words can be used to describe the Sun Devils’ pair of honorees for this year: battle-tested and victorious.
Hill fought and defeated osteosarcoma, a common type of bone cancer, when he was just 19 years old, 16 years ago. Upon bravely winning his battle, life put into perspective, he decided to take his passion for tennis and turn it into a career and a way to help others.
Never having previously played tennis, he battled once again, this time onto the third doubles team at Ferris State University, one of a few schools in the country that offered a professional tennis management program.
From there, Hill worked his way to an assistant position at high-caliber SEC programs at Alabama and Mississippi State before earning his first head coaching opportunity at South Florida. This summer, he moved his family to Tempe to take over the reinstated Sun Devil men’s tennis team.
White’s battle came in the form of having eight brothers and sisters as part of a family that was often homeless and slept in a car or under a bridge for stretches of his youth. In his younger years, the family would go from hotels to homelessness as his parents fought for their children’s safety and wellbeing and picked up what jobs they could find. Adding to the adversity, his only brother whom he considered his “mentor” was killed four years ago.
Not joining organized sports until high school, White competed in track and field, easily posting top times with no prior experience. A natural athlete, he first played football in junior college while running track in the offseason. His triple jump at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in 2013 would’ve been good enough for 12th place at the 2012 Olympics.
At ASU, White knew he could be successful in both track & field and football while also getting a quality education and he competes at the highest level on both teams. Most recently, he was named to the Pro Football Focus All-Pac-12 team, ranking third in the conference in punt returns and in the top-10 in punt return yards among all power-5 players this season. Academically, White also excels, tabbed Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention in 2016.
A number of local charities benefit from money raised through table sales and the auction accompanying the event, with the Foundation raising over $1,000,000 to date, benefitting underprivileged children of the Tempe and surrounding communities.
Past recipients include Jim Abbott, Anthony Robles, Mike Utley, Tommy John, Cory Hahn, Amy van Dyken-Rouen, Joshua Sweeney, Sam Schmidt, John Wilhite, Eric LeGrande, Colonel Greg Gadson, Joe Brown, Mark Herzlich, Aaron Ralston, and Ron Santo, among others.
The awards celebration will take place on Monday, Mar. 20, 2017 at the Tempe Mission Palms in Tempe, Ariz. A no-host cocktail reception and silent auction (6 p.m.) precede the live auction, dinner, and awards ceremony at 7 p.m.
To reserve a table for the event, visit the event website HERE and click “Reserve Your Table Today” at the top left. For more information, contact Susan Brow at (480) 940-4039.