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Gaelin Elmore to receive Wilma Rudolph Award on Saturday

Gaelin Elmore is shown addressing the crowd after he received the University of Minnesota’s Richard Pinky McNamara Student-Athlete Award. 1 / 2
Gaelin Elmore (87) is shown in action for the University of Minnesota Gophers football team last season. 2 / 2

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11

This is Gaelin Elmore’s favorite Bible verse and they are the words by which he lives.

Elmore is set to receive the highly prestigious Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award at a ceremony on June 11 at Dallas, Texas. The award will be presented at the 2016 National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) Convention Awards Luncheon. Elmore is one of five collegiate student-athletes from across the nation to be receiving this award.

Elmore is a 2014 graduate of Somerset High School. He was recruited to play football at the University of Minnesota. In his two seasons with the Gophers he’s played in 25 games. Elmore was a two-time all-state football selection at SHS.

The N4A used these words to describe Elmore’s plight and the reason why he was a unanimous selection for the Wilma Rudolph Award.

“By the age of five, Elmore had faced more hardships than the average person may face in a lifetime. After being homeless multiple times, separated from his siblings, observing drug-addicted parents, and forced to run away from foster homes due to abuse, Elmore found an outlet by playing sports. For his entire childhood, Elmore bounced from one foster home to the next before being reunited with his father for only a short time before drug-addition once again interfered. Thankfully, Elmore’s high school football coach (Bruce Larson) stepped in and gave him a place to live and a chance to do something meaningful with his life. With his coach’s help, Elmore was able to receive a full scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota, a place with a support system that he now considers to be family.”

When he was 13, Elmore was befriended by the Emmert family of Somerset. Elmore and Jack Emmert were playing together on an AAU basketball team. The Emmerts brought stability to Elmore’s life. When Elmore was in high school, his father was incarcerated. Coach Larson stepped in, taking over Elmore’s parental responsibilities. The Larson family will be accompanying Elmore to Texas when he receives the Rudolph Award.

Elmore uses tattoos to keep important people from his life close in his thoughts. One of his tattoos is a compass on his forearm. Inside the compass are the initials “B.L.” and “K.L.” for Coach Larson and his wife, Kelly.

“A tattoo is forever,” Elmore said. “It shows my appreciation. It’s a constant reminder.”

Elmore has come through his life’s turmoil and challenges with remarkable poise. He credits religion for part of that. He joined Athletes In Action (AIA) when he reached the Twin Cities campus. Athletes in Action is an international Christian student movement.

“AIA has helped me to make (religion) a priority. I’ve always been religious, but it was never at the forefront,” Elmore said.

Elmore understands he’s been fortunate and he hopes to help others by passing along his experiences.

“Being a communications major and being able to tell my story, it’s able to create change. I understand I want to work with kids more,” he said.

Elmore has always been a natural with kids. There were times after crowds filed out from SHS basketball games, that he could be found back in the gym, playing ball with younger kids.

“I love kids, that comes from having a lot of nieces and nephews,” he said. “Especially in Somerset, I want kids to know they can do things.”

Elmore is in the midst of working a two-week AIA camp for Christian athletes. When that is completed, he plans to dedicate the rest of his summer to football.

“To become the best player and athlete I can be,” he said.

Elmore is setting high personal and team goals for himself.

“My goal is to lead the team in sacks, to be a constant force, to put my name on a national scale,” he said. “My goal is to be an All-Big Ten selection, but the team success comes first.”

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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