Top row from left to right: senior Justin Gurth, senior Austin Dambach, senior Jack Fris. Bottom row from left to right: fifth-year Pete Haffner, senior Cross Wilkinson, senior RaShawn Allen. These six student-athletes were recently named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Lehigh football triples record for NFF award winners


Six Lehigh football student-athletes were named to the 2022 National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society.

This marks the first time in program history Lehigh has had more than two players named to the society in a given year. 

After being named to the honor society, senior offensive lineman Jack Fris said he wishes he could go back and show his freshman year self how far he’s come.

As a Division I athlete and an industrial systems engineering major, Fris said there were many times freshman year when he wanted to give up, but he continued to stay the course and leaned on his family and friends. 

The criteria for the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society are: completing all years of eligibility at an NCAA, NAIA or sprint football program, maintaining at least a 3.2 GPA throughout and starting or significantly contributing throughout the previous season.

This year, 1,574 student-athletes were honored, coming from 315 schools.

“This is a huge achievement and it is so nice to be recognized for my work,” Fris said. “It has been a really challenging four years with many bumps on the way, so I am really proud of myself for being able to stick with it.”

Along with Fris, the Lehigh honorees include seniors Justin Gurth, RaShawn Allen, Austin Dambach, Cross Wilkinson and graduate student linebacker Pete Haffner. 

“We have special seniors this year,” Fris said. “This class is incredibly driven and puts 100 percent effort into whatever we are doing. We really wanted to be role models and I think our effort is completely reflected in the fact that we had so many of us reach this accomplishment this year.”

Gurth explained that he, like Fris, initially struggled to strike a balance between football and school, and had to develop time management skills over his career.

As a finance major, Gurth said he ultimately found success through planning ahead and waking up early to get his work done.

“It is really all about staying organized,” Gurth said. “I did not want to be doing homework and studying after practice or late at night, so I learned to stick to a pretty tight schedule over the week to space everything out.”

Haffner, who graduated with a degree in finance last spring and is pursuing a graduate degree in accounting, said the key to balance was asking for help. 

“Whether it is football or school, don’t let it snowball to the point where you get so far behind that you can’t recover,” Haffner said. “Everyone, especially coaches and teachers, are willing to support you.”

Gurth, Haffner and Fris all attributed their individual successes to the team.

Gurth explained that this academic achievement is a bigger picture than just the senior class alone, it is a reflection of the program working to raise the team GPA.

“I am really proud of every single one of our guys because it shows how much we value academics on top of everything else that we have going on on the field,” Gurth said.

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