NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick today awarded a full, need-based scholarship to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student wrestler during the team's season kickoff in the center of campus.
Harvick, a wrestling standout in high school, presented the Kevin Harvick Athletic Scholarship to Nick Heilmann, marking the first stage of the Kevin Harvick Foundation's three-year commitment for an annual, full scholarship to UNC for one need-based student athlete.
"Athletics -- wrestling in particular -- were a huge part of my life for so long and helped strengthen me both physically and mentally," Harvick said. "Therefore, it is very important to DeLana (wife) and me to support a student athlete who really could use the financial help and do a little something to possibly change his life for the better. People who helped me along the way, whether in wrestling or racing, played a big role in molding the person I have become. We're hoping Nick benefits in a similar manner."
The Kevin Harvick Athletic Scholarship is intended to enable collegiate student athletes to pursue their dreams of obtaining an undergraduate degree while participating in athletics. The University of North Carolina is the second college with whom the Kevin Harvick Foundation has partnered to provide scholarships to student athletes. The first was awarded in 2010 at California State University-Bakersfield, Harvick's hometown. Harvick wrestled at North High in Bakersfield, and donated money and raised funds in 2008 to refurbish the school's wrestling room after its condemnation.
"The financial assistance that we receive as an Olympic non-revenue sport through the Rams Club by our valued donors is absolutely critical to the success of our program," said C.D. Mock, UNC Wrestling head coach. "We can't thank Kevin and DeLana Harvick and the Kevin Harvick Foundation enough for their support of wrestling at UNC."
Upon his arrival at UNC on Monday, Harvick toured the wrestling team's facility and addressed the athletes. Following the scholarship presentation to Heilmann, Harvick served as an honorary coach for the 20 wrestling team members who battled in the "Rumble in the Pit" for starting positions on this year's squad.