Hope College basketball player Ben Gardner heeded the words of his Christian faith and important people in his life, deciding to make helping others a priority. He is drawing national recognition for his charitable efforts.
Gardner has been selected as one of 20 student-athletes named to the 2016 Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Teams®.
The senior guard from Carmel, Indiana (Carmel HS) is one of 10 men’s honorees overall and one of five from NCAA Divisions II and III and the NAIA. In its fourth year, the Allstate NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® honor college basketball athletes who have dedicated themselves to bettering the lives of others.
Members of the Allstate NABC Good Works Team® will be invited by Allstate to be recognized at the 2016 NABC Convention and 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four®. They will participate in a community service project to benefit the host city of Houston.
Being selected as a member of the Allstate Good Works Team places Gardner at an elite level in the world of college basketball, Hope men’s basketball coach Greg Mitchell said.
“To achieve what he has on the court and in the classroom is outstanding in itself. But to be recognized for his volunteerism and service is simply remarkable,” Mitchell said. “Ben has humbly used his talents, gifts and leadership skills to benefit others in need. There's no better way to represent our basketball team and Hope College as a whole than the way Ben has. I’m proud that he has provided us all with a model of how to be a true difference-maker in a world that is in such need!”
Gardner co-founded the Jesse G. Clothing line with a childhood friend that is sending a portion of its proceeds toward helping youth in Ethiopia.
Gardner said he is honored to become Hope’s third recipient and join former Flying Dutchmen Grant Neil (2014) and Colton Overway (2013) as selections to the Allstate Good Works Teams®.
“I am grateful that Coach Mitchell nominated me,” Gardner said. “The importance of community service is something I have learned throughout my life through various mentors and reading Scripture. I have been fortunate to join my good friend, Riley Rapp, in helping serve people in need in Ethiopia.”
A public accounting major, Gardner has made the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Honor Roll three times. He earned All-MIAA Second Team recognition as a junior last season.
This season, Gardner leads seventh-ranked and MIAA co-leading Hope in scoring at 15.4 points per game. He became the 37th Flying Dutchmen player to reach 1,000 career points.
Gardner was one of the 154 nominees from the NABC. There were 103 nominees from the WBCA.
The record-setting 257 nominations were narrowed down to the final team rosters by voting panels led by former Duke University student-athlete, two-time NCAA champion and seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill and 10-time WNBA All-Star and University of Tennessee student-athlete Tamika Catchings. The voting panels are comprised of former coaches, esteemed college basketball athletes and media members.
“There is no program that recognizes and promotes the outstanding selfless humanitarian acts performed by men’s and women’s collegiate athletes more than the Allstate Good Works Teams,” said Jim Haney, executive director of the NABC. “In four years, more than 850 student-athletes have been nominated for charitable works in their communities, across America and around the world. The 10 young men and 10 young women selected for the 2016 teams have added to the legacy of helping to clothe, feed and shelter those in need while nourishing hope and strengthening faith.”