The Clevenger Award is Indiana University’s highest honor for former student athletes, recognizing excellence both on and off the field. This lifetime achievement award acknowledges exceptional dedication to IU. In 2015, IU honored NBA Hall-of-Famer and former Pacers coach, Bobby “Slick” Leonard, donor Bill Couch, MD, and Phil Westfall. A past president of the IU Alumni Club of Chicago, and Indianapolis, as well as the IU Varsity Club and Alumni Board of Directors, Phil kicked and punted for IU from 1962-1965, and continues to serve the university as one of the top volunteers nationwide.
Here is Phil Westfall’s acceptance speech, from the Awards Ceremony in Bloomington, Indiana.
Let’s Dig In!!!
I’m not the most famous of this year’s award recipients, but I am certainly the most grateful.
I want to congratulate Bill Couch and Slick Leonard who are also receiving this Clevenger Award tonight.
Also, Dr. Ken Gros Louis who is the recipient of the Bill Orwig Award.
I would like to recognize my Children who are here: (Please stand) Chris from Houston, TX, Signe from the Chicago suburbs, and Noah from Carmel, IN.
And, a friend from Springfield, OH that I’ve known since before Kindergarten: Dick & Kelly Wiggins, and from Indianapolis: Buddy & Ann Berhardt. And, my “Best Friend” at IU, Liz McCrea.
Thanks to each of you for being here tonight.
I’d like to thank the I Men’s Association, the Clevenger nominating committee, the IU Athletics Department, and all others that are responsible for nominating me for this great Honor.
Looking out and seeing my former teammates, Dick Coachys, Harold Mauro, Jon Ginter, John Durkott, other Dickens’ Boys, and everyone else here tonight, fills me with a sense of both joy and gratitude. I share this award with you, and everyone else who had the opportunity to work with Coach Dickens at IU.
I am the 16th of the Dickens boys to receive this award, and we honor his memory tonight as well.
You know, I’ll never forget the first time when Coach Dickens called my number. First game sophomore year.
It was time to go in and Kick a Field Goal. My first Field Goal for IU. We were moving the Ball, but an incomplete 3rd down pass made it 4th and 8 on their 9 yard line.
We were playing Kansas State, and it had been raining during warm-ups and for most of the first half.
(I think I whispered.)
But then I looked at those 10 other guys. And they looked at me.
I looked over the sidelines at Coach Dickens.
Then I looked up at the scoreboard.
And I found the motivation I needed.
As a Kicker, I played a unique position. I had the opportunity to do something to change the game. Coach Dickens told me to put it between the Uprights.
I did it!!! 3 Points!! Good for a 26 yard Field Goal.
That moment has stuck with me through all my work with IU, both on and off the playing field. When things have to get done, you have to put your feelings aside, and do your best to deliver. Coach Dickens always said, ‘you practice like you play’. For me, what I tried to put in practice was a commitment to serving my team mates, the alumni, and everyone associated with IU in the best way that I could. I always believed I played for IU, not at IU.
A friend of mine from Chicago once asked me, “Phil why do you do all the stuff you do for IU?” And I wished I had some sort of smart philosophical answer. I simply explained that when people call on me, I try to do the best I can. It’s IU!!
Over the years, there were people that needed me. And I needed to give back to the school that had given so much to me.
There was always an opportunity to change the score, and to make a difference – and I’m grateful to IU for all the opportunities that have come to me over the years.
So, as past president of the IU Alumni Club of Chicago, Chairman of the IU Varsity Club of Indianapolis, and Board member of the IU alumni club of Indianapolis, when IU people call, I try my best to deliver.
You know there’s an old saying that says “there’s no ‘I’ in team”.
But something that I’ve come to realize over the years is that there is always room for “you” in IU.
Each of us has a contribution to make, each of us has something to give, each of us has a responsibility to share a never-ending respect for this great institution – and that’s why this award means so much to me.
I was talking to someone who recently received a national award, and he told me that recognition is great, but what everyone really wants to know is: what are you going to do now?
For me the answer is simple: I’m going to keep on doing my best to give back to an institution that has meant so much to me, and continues to need our support.
Just as I still have a few good throws left in this right arm, and a few more Kicks in this leg, I also have a few more ideas of how I might contribute to IU.
As long as I’m still kicking, I want to try and change the game for IU. How about you?
Those boys from Columbus are going to be here tomorrow, and we have to be ready. Ready for the big game, but also ready to build the future for this great school.
My question for you is: How can we put more of “you”, into IU?
I accept this award on behalf of my family, my friends, my teammates, The I Association, and everyone here tonight.
I share this award with my family, who is here tonight with me.
Most importantly, I share this award with someone who can’t be here tonight, my wife, Sandee. We were married for 49 years. She passed away this past January. Through all the years, even before my very first Field Goal, or very first Punt, she was always by my side, always so supportive of everything I did for IU.
I dedicate this award to her, and to her memory.
Thank you all for this great honor, thank you for many years of great memories, and thank you for the memories that are yet to come. This Honor is better than I deserve.
I am Phil Westfall
IU Class of 1965.
I am a Dickens’ Boy.