Whittell senior Harrison earns Gene Upshaw Scholarship Award

Whittell senior Ben Harrison (not pictured) won the annual Gene Upshaw Scholarship Award. Accepting the award on Ben's behalf were his parents. Pictured are (from left) Carol Chaplin, President/CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitor's Authority, Ben's mom and sister, Jan and Claire, Teri Upshaw, Corinna Osborne, general manager of Edgewood, Gary Quinn from MBC Sports and Peter Harrison.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

STATELINE, Nev. — George Whittell High School senior Ben Harrison was awarded the 11th annual Gene Upshaw Scholarship Award this year at the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe.

Harrison’s scholastic achievements, leadership positions, community service and a well-written essay earned him the $5,000 award.

NBC Sports and Edgewood Companies both contribute equally to the scholarship, which is awarded to individuals possessing characteristics of leadership, community service, and academic excellence.

Terri Upshaw, Gene’s widow, was at Edgewood on July 13 to present the award that was initiated in memory of the NFL Hall of Famer and longtime NFLPA executive director. The scholarship assists the ongoing education of young leaders.

“It’s an honor to be named the Gene Upshaw scholarship winner,” Harrison said in prepared video while he interns this summer at a tax firm in Scotland. “I’d like to thank the two entities giving me the money, NBC and Edgewood. I moved to Tahoe 10 years ago, and I learned to golf here. Teri, I wanted to say thank you so much for this. The foundation means a lot to me.”

Harrison also recognized his parents for pushing him to succeed and said he plans to use the money for textbooks and buying a laptop computer.

Harrison has maintained a 4.6 cumulative grade point average for three years. He has gained recognition from teachers and peers for his organizational and leadership skills. He is Whittell’s student body president and is dedicated to volunteer work, with the GWHS Key Club and the Interact Club. He plans to compete on ski, soccer and cross country teams.

Harrison said his specific study interests include finance, computer science and data science.

Gene Upshaw (1945-2008) was a popular nine-time participant in the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course each summer. He was a part-time resident for more than 30 years at his second home in North Lake Tahoe.

The Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund was created by Terri Upshaw in 2009. Since then, the fund has raised nearly $1 million for pancreatic cancer research, traumatic brain injury-quality medical treatment and care for cancer patients and their families, sustainability and advancement of medical technology. The fund supports the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, which opened in 2012, ( and the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research. (

In 1987, after a playing career with the Oakland Raiders, Upshaw was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

As executive director for the National Football League Players’ Association, Upshaw was known for his honesty, hard work and attention to the well-being of his players and everyone around him.

After Upshaw’s passing, NBC Sports and Edgewood Companies collaborated and established the scholarship to honor Upshaw’s life, work and connection to the Lake Tahoe community.

“We have a long legacy and commitment to our community to really make sure that we have a stewardship approach to things,” said Corinna Osborne, general manager of Edgewood. “And our philanthropic approach and platform has always been education. It’s near and dear to our hearts as a company and as ownership.”

Gary Quinn, vice president of programming and owned properties for NBC Sports said, “This scholarship is a highlight of the week for me. Having students research his career and what he represented is beautiful, because in this crazy world, Gene represented what was right.”

Harrison’s parents and sister were there to receive the award for Ben.

Peter Harrison, Ben’s dad, is proud of his youngest of four sons, but says there’s still much to do.

“We’re proud, but there’s still a long way to go,” Peter Harrison said. “Life is a journey and things are good so far. But you’ve got to keep working and contribute, be a good person. Lots of things, good and bad, can happen in college, so we hope we stay on track. We’re extremely grateful for the support of NBC and Edgewood. Ben’s very honored and would love to be here.”

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