Football Writers Association of America Oct. 2, 2013
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kallan Louis
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Linebacker endures hardship from Hurricane Katrina
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DALLAS (FWAA) – East Carolina outside linebacker Gabe Woullard is the second weekly nominee for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award that will be announced at the end of the season.


Woullard, a 6-3, 227-pound senior from Biloxi, Miss., became an East Carolina starter for the final eight games of the 2012 season and has never given up the spot. He has survived to play despite his family's ordeal during Hurricane Katrina, his father's absence while serving in Iraq, and a playing career that has led him to three high schools and three colleges because of the aforementioned events.

"Moving around just made me stronger, made me jump into a new situation and learn fast," Woullard told The Greenville Daily Reflector. "I've seen a lot. I've taken that and brought it here."

In 2005, when Katrina hit the Mississippi Coast, Woullard's home in Biloxi's back bay took a direct hit from the storm's surge. The family escaped unharmed, but the house was badly damaged. His father returned from serving in Iraq and took the family to the Los Angeles where he fulfilled a dream and became a police officer.

Woullard played three years of high school football at two different California high schools. He left for the Chicago area for his senior season and played at Oak Park-River Forest High School. He then attended Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater as a freshman and was part of a national championship team. He headed back to Pierce College in California for his sophomore season where he was recruited by East Carolina.

For the eighth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce weekly nominees during the season. A blue-ribbon panel of FWAA members will determine the winner from all of the nominees.

The Courage Award was created by ESPN's senior columnist Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

The Orange Bowl is a 351-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3, 2014. Other Orange Bowl core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, Orange Bowl Swim Classic and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the 2013-14 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, visit

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at or 972-713-6198.

2013 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 25: Eric Fieilo, San Houston State
Oct. 2: Gabe Woullard, East Carolina
Oct. 9: Bryson James, South Alabama
Oct. 16: Anthony Larceval, San José State
Oct. 23: Jim Weaver, Virginia Tech
Oct. 30: L'Damian Washington, Missouri
Nov. 6: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Nov. 13: Case McCoy, Texas
Nov. 20: Coaching Staff, Minnesota

Related link:
Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award