Training a New Knights Fan



Nov. 21, 2013

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By Andy Seeley

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - Noah Hart wants to become an athletic trainer when he grows up. Now, thanks to a recent experience with members of UCF's sports medicine staff and a Knights' football player, his career aspirations are as strong as ever. And he and his family have become Knights fans, as well.

Noah is a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Sunrise Elementary School in Palm Bay, Fla., where he also takes part in the Gifted Student Program (GSP). When Noah chose athletic training for his fifth-grade career project, Becky Turner, Noah's GSP teacher and a UCF graduate, put him in contact with UCF Director of Sports Medicine Mary Vander Heiden. A visit to campus was set up for Nov. 7, just two days before the Knights' big game with Houston.

Assistant Athletic Trainer for football Jud Fann gave Noah and his mother Jessica Hart a tour of the sports medicine facilities and other areas at the football complex. Jessica said Fann's and Vander Heiden's interaction with Noah was amazing.

"Jud was extraordinary with Noah," Jessica sad. "He made it exciting and was just a great role model for Noah. Mary was wonderful and came out to speak to us at the end to see how Noah liked it. Everyone took time away from their busy schedules to make sure Noah was having a memorable experience. It was truly overwhelming the gratitude I felt to the staff and it was something that will stay with Noah a lifetime. He was speechless and in awe. He took every bit of information Jud told him and put it in his report. His smile when we left the tour said it all. It stayed there for days." An even bigger smile was on Noah's face when he actually got the opportunity to meet one of the Knights. A chance meeting with senior captain and offensive lineman Jordan McCray was the highlight of the day for the younger Hart.

"It was really cool. My favorite part was getting to go in the tunnel and meeting Jordan McCray," Noah said. "It was my first time meeting a college football player. I realized I would get to meet many when I become an athletic trainer."

Noah was so impressed with and excited to meet McCray, that he went home and started working on UCF and Jordan McCray-themed art work.

"He loved it," Jessica said. "He even drew a picture of Jordan and submitted it to Sports Illustrated for Kids."

When Noah made his presentation in class, he did so dressed as a Knight fan from head to toe.

"We had to write a paper on the description of the career, salary, education and biography of a famous person," Noah said. "I made a posterboard with descriptions below every place Jud took me. I had to do a presentation in front of my class. I wore all UCF clothes."

Noah's newfound Knight fandom has spread throughout his family as well.

"His favorite team was Alabama until he met Jud and Jordan," Jessica said. "I have never watched college football, only the NFL. That changed after this experience. I have been rooting for the Knights ever since. Noah's brother and sister have been recruited as well. UCF apparel has been added to all three of their Christmas lists and we have already acquired a bag with Jordan's number on it."



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