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UNC athlete recognized by NASCAR driver

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Nick Heilmann is a redshirt sophomore wrestler and a recipient of Harvick’s scholarship.

Established in 2010 by NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick and his wife, DeLana, the Kevin Harvick Foundation aims to support programs across the country that improve the lives of children.

And although he may no longer consider himself a kid, UNC redshirt sophomore wrestler Nick Heilmann was recently recognized by the foundation as the latest recipient of the Kevin Harvick Athletic Scholarship.

On Monday, the Harvicks presented Heilmann with a full, needs-based scholarship, marking the beginning of the foundation’s three-year commitment to annually award a full scholarship to one UNC student athlete in need.

“It’s nice to have someone who’s nationally recognized in sports donate to Carolina wrestling. And for me to be the actual recipient of the scholarship is a huge honor,” Heilmann said. “Kevin Harvick is obviously a great athlete, so for this to come from someone like him definitely motivates me to continue work hard.”

Coach C.D. Mock said the scholarship could not have been awarded to a better person.

“Nick is just an all-American kind of guy who works really hard.

It’s all about family, and he comes from a very strong one with great morals and values, which is what Nick stands for,” Mock said. “So I don’t think Kevin could have a better guy that he’s supporting here at UNC.”

While the foundation awarded its first scholarship in 2010 to a student athlete in Kevin Harvick’s hometown of Bakersfield, Calif., the Harvicks wanted to give back to the collegiate athletic community surrounding their current residence in Kernersville.

“We thought it was really important for us to also give back to our current community,” DeLana Harvick said. “Education is extremely important to both Kevin and I. And me being a huge Carolina fan, it was sort of a no-brainer as to why we’re going to partner up with UNC.”

Originally, the scholarship presentation was set to be a part of Monday’s “Rumble in the Pit” event — an opportunity for UNC wrestlers to kick off the season by competing for starting spots in wrestle-offs.

But because of inclement weather, the event was canceled, which gave Harvick a chance to personally display his support of the team.

“The mental aspect of wrestling and everything you learn in this room can be applied to every aspect of life, no matter what you do,” Harvick said to the wrestlers while recounting his experiences as a high school wrestler. “As wrestlers, you’re going to push through and make things happen while many others won’t.”

For Harvick, who was named an honorary wrestling coach of the day, his commitment to the team is aimed to give UNC wrestlers the support he believes they deserve.

“Whether in high school or college, a lot of wrestling programs don’t get the attention that they should for the effort these guys put in,” he said.

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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