Boca Raton, Fla. -
Typically, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “student-athlete” is what that person has accomplished on the field, court, track, etc. Yet as Florida Atlantic University football kicker Greg Joseph has shown, the word “student” comes first and foremost. The graduate student has exemplified what the NCAA views is the true meaning of student-athlete through his work in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
The NCAA has stressed that participation as a student-athlete will complement academic education while teaching life skills not available in the classroom. The organization, as well as FAU, believes growing as a person, both on and off the field, and getting a degree is a student-athlete’s top priority. Joseph, who is in his first year as a graduate student, boasted a 3.665 undergraduate grade point average in the MBA program and is the vice president of the FAU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Joseph began his MBA after finishing his FAU undergraduate degree in exercise science and health promotion in August 2016.
“We’re student-athletes first,” said Joseph. “That’s why I try to put so much into my academics; overloading each semester so I could graduate early. It helps so much with time management and just seeing the bigger picture because football is not going to last forever. There is life after football, so the people I meet and the relationships I build are extremely important to me.”
A hometown product, Joseph received his second Conference USA Spirit of Service Award, in recognition of his efforts at FAU and within the surrounding community, on Wednesday. Joseph has supplemented his SAAC role with steady work, including being a pivotal member of the Let’s SAAC Hunger initiative, organizing a team volunteer troupe for the Jason Taylor Foundation’s annual “Cool Gear for the School Year” program, coaching youth soccer and working with The Giving Tree to provide gifts for children during the holidays.
“The first (Spirit of Service Award) kind of caught me off guard because I was just doing community service because I liked to do it,” stated Joseph. “It is cool that the work is still being noticed. It is motivating because I just want to do more and more because it is a good feeling inside to know you are doing something worthwhile.”
For the SAAC Hunger initiative, Athletics partnered with FAU’s College of Science to gather food, water, clothes and other items for those in Haiti who were devastated by Hurricane Matthew. According to Joseph, more than 2,600 pounds of food and other needed items were sent to the country in November and December.
“I just see how people are, and sometimes they could be in a better position with just a little help,” said Joseph. “I honestly like seeing when you do little things, like painting the corner of a house, and how happy it makes the homeowner. Obviously, I didn’t get to see the faces of the people in Haiti, but I am sure it helped and it is just an awesome feeling inside. Rather than sit around and watch a movie, I’d much rather try to help people in my free time.”
Joseph has kept himself busy during the fall semester as he also organized a group of about 30 football players to take part in the Solid Waste Authority Recycled Paint Donation Program. Joseph and his teammates painted the home of a family in need. He looks to build a lasting relationship with this program one that will be continued after he leaves FAU. Joseph and his teammates also adopted a disadvantaged local child as part of The Giving Tree’s holiday gift program to provide necessities and holiday gifts.
The Boca Raton native gives a lot of credit to his mother for inspiring him to do the community service work that he does.
“My mom is amazing. With her schedule, she tutors, teaches, heads up the math department at a Jewish Day School and still finds a way to give back. That’s probably where I get it from,” added Joseph. “She definitely goes out of her way to help anyone. I saw that from a young age, and it really instilled that value of how important and how big of a difference caring can make.”
On the gridiron, Joseph had a record-setting season, knocking home 11-of-15 field goals with a 100 percent PAT completion rate. Going into his final season as an Owl, Joseph has made 93-consecutive PATs, missing only one in three seasons.
“Honestly FAU was just willing to give me an opportunity. At first, things didn’t really go my way, but I kept working and eventually it all worked out.”
With his impressive resume, Joseph will work to take his talents to the National Football League, but will have his degrees to fall back on.
"I will give (professional football) my best shot. Do I think I have the ability…absolutely, and I have all the confidence in myself. I also know the statistics about people going into the league, so I am preparing myself, just in case. I believe this MBA will open a lot of doors for me, so I will see where it takes me.”
When he is not busy studying, practicing or giving back, Joseph, who was born in South Africa, enjoys going to the beach, coaching youth soccer, playing soccer and spending time with his family who lives in West Boca.
“I played soccer my entire life, until the week before I started playing FAU football. I grew up playing soccer with all of these guys and now four high school teammates go here (FAU), and I live with them. I also go to my grandma’s house every Tuesday.”