by Steve Johnson
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — Benedictine College football player Reed Levi’s appearance during halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans as part of the Allstate and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team® is the culmination of years of giving back to his teammates, college and community.
The national recognition for the 2023 Benedictine graduate, a standout tight end for the Ravens football team, is rare for a player from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The honor goes to only 22 players across all of college football (11 from NCAA Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision and 11 from all other college football divisions).
“They pick 11 guys from across four different divisions of football that really embody what good works mean and what it means to be part of your community,” Levi said, “so it is just really humbling, and I am super-honored to be a part of it.
“It’s an honor and a testament to the culture that we’re building at Benedictine, and it feels good to give back to a community that has given me so much.”
While being seen on national television during one of the college football championship semifinal games is huge, Levi said that sometimes the simpler things mean a little more.
He was coaching a flag football team for the Atchison Recreation Commission, just one part of his involvement in the community where Benedictine is based, before the 2023 college season began.
Tragedy struck in the fourth game of the season when he suffered a broken leg on the field. He had a broken fibula, a dislocated ankle and had torn nearly every ligament in his leg. The first-team All-Conference and All-American tight end’s football career was over.
During his recovery, he went to a friend’s house to watch a football game, and when he arrived, his entire flag football team was there to greet him.
“All those kids had brought me a football they signed, and they got me a little care package,” said Levi. “It was just pretty cool that there’s the big recognition and everything, but there are also those little things that mean so much more.”
In addition to coaching youth football, he was a Bible study leader, led student athletes in the annual Atchison Clean-Up Day, worked with the Student Athletic Leadership Council to implement the High Five Friday initiative with Atchison elementary school students, was a student host for Benedictine’s Scholarship Ball, served as a tutor in the Student Success Center, was a Gregorian Leadership Fellow, and was a student ambassador for the college’s office of admission.
He also made presentations on campus and to Atchison-area elementary and high schools on the importance of Black History Month and spoke as well on gentrification and urban housing to the Kansas House of Representatives.
“Reed Levi is a tremendous student athlete here at Benedictine College,” said head football coach Joel Osborn. “He gives his time and talent to so many people and organizations.
“We talk about loving and serving others as a pillar of our program. Reed does that within our football team, college and community of Atchison. He brings positive energy and always has a great day.”
Although he has always been committed to service and philanthropy, Levi credits Benedictine for giving him the opportunity to excel in all areas of his life.
“Benedictine College really gave me the roots of who I’m going to be,” he said. “I’ve learned so much through the football program, on the field, off the field, in the classroom.
“There are just so many lessons — real core values like responsibility and accountability. And on top of that, the biggest thing Benedictine taught me was to never be afraid to practice your faith.”
So, what’s next for Levi?
He married his longtime college sweetheart on Dec. 29, 2023, is completing an MBA, is set to start a new job and is excited about married life and raising a family.
So, 2024 is already looking like a stellar year for the Benedictine grad.