Former athlete congressionally honored

An organization honored North Alabama alumnus Will Baston on Capitol Hill, along with former student-athletes around the country Sept. 26. These 25 individuals were honored for their athletic accomplishments, work and involvement in politics.

Baston played baseball and football at UNA as a pitcher and punter. He currently works as a legislative assistant for former presidential candidate and current Texas senator Ted Cruz. Baston graduated in 2009 and according to SportsInformation, averaged over 40 yards a punt and was a member of two conference championships, as well as four NCAA playoff teams.

“Lead1, a group representing the athletic directors of NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools, hosted the inaugural Best Staff Student-Athletes on The Hill Contest in the Rayburn House Office Building,” according to The Hill.

Lead1 represents athletic directors of schools of the FBS. The Congressional Luncheon is an annual meeting held in Washington. To be invited, the organization or groups a person worked with must nominate the individual. The nominations were open to all college graduates and all staff positions.

“You have to be able to work together to get the job done. So I think at the end of the day, it’s coming up here and being a part of that individual office, or committee, working with others to accomplish the same goal,” Baston said in an interview with The Hill.

Multiple lawmakers, such as Cheri Bustos from Illinois, Dutch Ruppersberger from Maryland and Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

The Lead1 Association began in 1986 with 97 athletic directors and has grown to 131 since then. Its official website states it aims for dedication to the success of student-athletes, both in the classroom and on the playing field, and in college and afterward.

The group had its meeting venue relocated to Washington D.C. in 2017, where it planned to hold the event again in 2018. Their official mission statement is “Supporting the athletic directors of America’s leading intercollegiate programs in preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders.”