Eastern Michigan’s Brian Dooley Chosen For 2023 Disney Spirit Award

Offensive Lineman Donated Scholarship to Teammate Undergoing Financial Hardships

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Dec. 4, 2023) – Helping one’s teammate is part of being a college football player. But Eastern Michigan offensive lineman Brian Dooley took that to another level, donating his scholarship to a teammate, an incredibly selfless act that earned him the 2023 Disney Spirit Award. 

Dooley captured national attention earlier this season at EMU when he donated his football scholarship to one of his teammates. It was a significant gesture by Dooley given that walk-on Zack Conti had been working multiple jobs and donating blood plasma for money to pay for college. Conti’s struggles have been further complicated by the fact that his mother has been fighting polycystic kidney disease and needs a transplant.

“At Walt Disney World we love the amazing stories that come out of college football every year,” said Adam Ball, vice president of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “And we also love the challenge of trying to find one, like Brian Dooley’s, that embodies the indomitable spirit that is at the core of this very special award.”

Since 1996 the Disney Spirit Award has been presented every year by Walt Disney World Resort to the most inspirational figures in college football. The award was created to honor people like Dooley who demonstrate an indomitable spirit and a willingness to help others.

Dooley, whose mother is a nurse and father is a truck driver, is in his final season at Eastern Michigan. He and his family are now paying for college themselves. Dooley said the decision to donate his scholarship was an easy one and he hopes it inspires others to help out in their communities.

“I think it’s just the beginning. If people see what I’ve done they might take it to a whole new level,” said Dooley. “I wish I could do more. To me it wasn’t that big of a deal what I did. I was just doing it for one of my brothers. So, hopefully I can do a lot more now.”

Dooley, a graduate student majoring in criminal justice, has routinely found ways to lift others around him. As a team captain, he has let his teammates take his place during the pregame coin toss, giving them the chance to represent the team. Off the field, he has performed more than 100 hours of community service, including reading to young students, building and refurbishing parks and participating in EMU’s “Victory Day,” an event supporting those with cognitive and physical impairments.

Dooley is the 28th recipient of the Disney Spirit Award and the first from Eastern Michigan University. He will be presented with the trophy during the “Home Depot College Football Awards” on ESPN on Dec. 8 (7 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST).

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