J.T. Thomas was the first Black to play football at FSU; he also was the first FSU Black All-American football player, and first Black student athlete to graduate, with a degree in business. He went on to play ten years in the National Football League (nine seasons with the Pittsburg Steelers, where he was part of four Super Bowl winning teams, and one with the Denver Broncos). A native of Macon, GA, he now resides in Pennsylvania where he is a successful businessman, and is involved in several civic and community organizations.
Dr. Derrick Brooks
James “J.T.” Thomas Heart of A Champion – 2013
Dr. Derrick Brooks was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1995 National Football League (NFL) Draft, where he remained to play his entire 14-season professional career. He is widely considered one of the best linebackers in NFL history. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection and nine-time All-Pro, Brooks was named Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Dr. Brooks graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in business communications from Florida State University (FSU) where he was a three-time first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, two times first–team All-American, and a member of the Seminoles 1993 National Championship team. In November 2010, FSU retired Seminoles jersey number 10 in honor of Brooks. He went on to earn his Master’s in business communication from FSU in 1999, and his Doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Leo’s University in 2006.
Recognized as often for his hard work in the community as he is for his hard hits on the football field, Brooks has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2000 Walter Payton/NFL Man of the Year award, the 2003 Bart Starr Award, the 2004 Bryon “Whizzer” White Award, and the 2008 JB Award through the NFL Players Association, all of which recognize an NFL player annually for his commitment to the communities in which he lives.
Dr. Brooks was appointed to the FSU Board of Trustees by Governor Jeb Bush in 2003, where he served until 2011. He has also served on the Florida Department of Education Foundation, St. Leo’s University and Brooks-DeBartolo Charities, Inc. In 2007 he was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist as the Chairman for the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness – helping to eliminate the problem of childhood obesity in the State of Florida. By partnering with the DeBartolo Family, he was able to realize a lifelong dream with the opening of the very first traditional charter high school in the Tampa Bay area – Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School. Through his foundation, Derrick Brooks Charities, Inc., he has made it his life’s mission to positively impact the lives of youth in the Tampa Bay area and beyond, through educational programming and mentoring.
Dr. Brooks is married to Carol and has four children; Brianna, Derrick, Darius and Dania. He is currently the President and part owner of the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League.
Ms. Alicia “Ice” Gladden
James “J.T.” Thomas Heart of A Champion – 2013
Ms. Alicia M. Gladden, fondly known to many as “Ice”, was a 2003 graduate of Orange Park High School (Florida). As an honor student graduating with a 3.97 grade point average and standout high school basketball player, she received a full athletic scholarship to Florida State University (FSU).
Ms. Gladden made a name for herself on and off the basketball court. She was one of the top scorers and best defensive players in FSU women’s basketball history. She was a four-year starter at guard from 2003 to 2007 and is the only Seminole to capture ACC All-Defensive Team honors three times. Her name dots the FSU record book in nearly every category and sits atop the steals list. She holds the FSU record for steals in a career (275) and in a single season (101 in 2004-05). Additionally, she was a three-time All-ACC selection, picking up honorable mention honors during her sophomore season in 2004-05 and Third Team honors her final two years in 2005-06 and 2006-07. She led FSU in scoring her junior and senior years, and led the Seminoles to their first-ever NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance in 2007. She was part of the first FSU team to go to three straight NCAA Tournaments. She ranks 10th in FSU history in scoring (1,403 points) and also ranks in FSU’s top 20 in rebounds, assists and blocks. Ms. Gladden was also a standout in the classroom, capturing the ACC Academic Honor Roll award four straight years, and making the Academic All-ACC Team in 2006 and 2007.
After graduating from FSU in 2007 with a degree in Sports Management, Ms. Gladden went on to enjoy a successful professional basketball career playing in Poland, Luxembourg, Romania and Serbia. In 2012, she returned home to start her coaching career and to have the opportunity to instill her love for the game to young girls. She spent the 2012-13 season as the assistant coach for Creekside High School in St. Johns County, Florida. Her dedication was a way for her to continue using basketball as means to help others.
Ms. Alicia M. Gladden was tragically killed this year by a driver who had been drinking. While basketball was the stage on which “Ice” reached the world, her calm, quiet and humble nature is how she will be remembered. Always quick to flash her infectious smile, Ms. Gladden had a kindness and heart that will be forever missed.
(Ms. Gladden’s father David, mother Frances and brother David acceped the award, presented by Coach Sue Semaru, on her behalf.)
Mr. Gerald K. Johnson, II
Outstanding Student – 2013
Mr. Gerald K. Johnson, II, is a junior majoring in Education from Jacksonville, Florida. With an esteemed passion for athletics, and how participation in sports can positively impact students, Gerald is currently the Vice President of Seminole Student Boosters, Inc., at Florida State University (FSU). His primary responsibility as Vice President is to organize events and create marketing strategies that will build a connection between enrolled students at FSU and student-athletes. He has been the Chairman of the Student Government Campus Recreation Board for the past two years, in which he allocates a budget of $5.2 million throughout the seven subdivisions of the Campus Recreation department. While pursuing his Bachelor of Science degree in Education, Gerald has gained much experience in teaching by volunteering at various local community centers and assisting teachers at FSU High School in Tallahassee, Florida.
Mr. Johnson prides himself in continuously bettering his University through leadership positions, service involvement, inspiring upcoming student leaders, and being a community role model. As a freshman, he immediately became involved in Student Government and became of member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Inc. During his sophomore year he interned with the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Franchise and volunteered with ESPN College Gameday. He is one of the founding members of FSU’s Sports Management Student Association, which is an organization that provides students networking opportunities with professionals and other students in the field of sports and the sports management program. He is also the first ever Campus Content Editor of the FSU student newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau. As a member of Student Government, he has served on the 2013 Local Fees Committee, the 2013 Student Academic Programs Funding Committee, and was a member of the Campus Recreation Associate Director Search Committee.
Mr. Gerald K. Johnson, II, is a proud member of Garnet and Gold Key Leadership Honorary and the recipient of the 2013 Mores Leadership Award. Mr. Johnson is a 2012 graduate of the LeaderShape Institute and a yearly volunteer assistant varsity basketball coach at Amos P. Godby High School in Tallahassee, Florida.