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As part of the Dolphins’ Football Unites initiative, the organization awarded its inaugural Project Change Scholarship on Wednesday and the recipient was Valicia Browne of Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca Raton.
Browne will be attending Florida State University in the fall and will pursue a double major in biochemistry and sociology.
The scholarship was funded by Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross and the team first started accepting applications in November. The goal of the scholarship is to target students to impact their lives so they can make a change in their community.
Browne’s goal is to return to South Florida after college and establish medical clinics to provide affordable healthcare for underserved communities.
“I’m truly honored,” Browne said. “I support everything that the Miami Dolphins do in terms of giving back to communities and that really aligns with my goals and my community services endeavors. To be recognized for my work in the community is really incredible. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to really give back to my community and give back to South Florida and create positive change, and with this scholarship I’ll be able to do that.”
Browne was recognized at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southern University and was accompanied for the announcement by her parents and two siblings.
“I’m lost for words,” said Browne’s mother, Fiona. “I cannot tell you how proud myself and husband are of Valicia and all her accomplishments. She has always been dedicated to her books and what she’s passionate about. We are very grateful and very thankful to the Project Change program and to be a member of the Miami Dolphins family, it’s beyond words. We are forever grateful.”
Valicia Browne said her community service involvement began when she was a child in Brooklyn, New York.
“My parents and I we would go to the homeless shelters and we would cook for them and feed the homeless, particularly on holidays,” she said, “and ever since then seeing their faces light up when we would give them a hot meal that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have, it ignited in me a passion for community service and giving back.”
Wake willing: Defensive end Cameron Wake has been a full-time starter pretty much his entire career, but he’s more concerned at this time with helping the team win than his status. Wake has started 112 of his 132 games with the Dolphins, but he came off the bench for the first five games of the 2016 season as the team looked to ease him back into action after his Achilles injury. Wake said he was fine with going back to that role next season if that’s what the coaches determine is best for the team. “I feel that I have NFL-starter ability,” Wake said. “I don’t think that’s ever been a question. But, like I said, working harder versus working smarter. Could I play every down? Obviously yes. I’ve shown that. Is that in the best interest of the team? Is that in the best interest of myself? Question mark. I don’t have this, everybody look at me. I must be a starter. That’s just not my mentality. I want to do whatever is going to help the entirety of the team, so if it means me being a third-down guy, let’s do it. If it means I have to start and play every down, I’ll take that role on too. I’ve done both. And I think I’ve been fairly successful either way. Again, it’s going to come down to the personnel, the scheme and what’s going to work out for everybody involved. I don’t have an ego that I need to have that starter by my name. Whatever needs to happen happens. Let’s get it done.”
— Hard Rock Stadium (@HardRockStadium) June 13, 2018
World Cup fever: The news Wednesday morning that the 2026 World Cup was awarded to North America could mean great things for Hard Rock Stadium eight years down the line. Miami is among the cities that bid to host games for soccer’s biggest event, although those decisions might not be made for a couple of years. In the immediate future, Hard Rock Stadium will play host to three international soccer matches in the near future — FC Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City FS on July 28; Manchester United vs. Real Madrid on July 31; and Colombia vs. Venezuela on Sept. 7. Dolphins Vice Chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel said more matches could be on the way. “International soccer is going to be a big thing here,” he said. “We hope to get one of the big games and be one of the final places for the World Cup when it comes here.”
Southern Miss support: Rookie sixth-round pick Cornell Armstrong got a Twitter shout-out from former Dolphins cornerback and fellow Southern Mississippi alum Patrick Surtain after being drafted in late April and the two actually met recently at a player engagement event featuring Dolphins alums. “I actually talked it up with him,” Armstrong revealed. “I’m supposed to hopefully get in contact with him this summer, try to get some knowledge and just see where he goes from there.” Surtain did have some tips to pass along in their initial meeting. “He told me to go out there and get as many reps as I can,” Armstrong said. “Don’t hide in the back. Go out there and just do what I do. Do what I did to get here and just play ball.” Surtain, a Dolphins second-round pick in 1999, was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the best cornerbacks in franchise history. “I YouTubed his videos and I just like the way he played,” Armstrong said. “I’m going to have to go back and break them down some more. I’m definitely going to have go back and try to steal some tips.”
The name game: Armstrong was known as “C-Nell” during his days at Southern Miss, but these days he’s going by “Big Country.” That was the nickname given to him by new defensive backs coach Tony Oden. “Big Country because I’m from Bassfield, Mississippi. You know, Mississippi is country, so Big Country is my new name until, I guess, I get out of this rookie shell and I can get my C-Nell back. I’m OK with Big Country.” Armstrong said other nicknames among rookie defensive backs are “Surfer” for cornerback Jalen Davis because he’s from San Diego; “Snoop” for cornerback Jonathan Alston because his dreds and long hair are reminiscent of rapper Snoop Dogg; and Minkah Fitzpatrick is “Tide” because he played at the University of Alabama.
Ford’s fight: Wide receiver Isaiah Ford has been busy making up for lost time this spring, back in action after missing his entire rookie season with a knee injury. Despite the year off, Ford says his confidence level is high. “I’m extremely confident,” he said. “I’ve had a year to just pick everyone’s brain, just to learn and understand the terminology.” Ford says despite the Dolphins’ depth at wide receiver, he hasn’t concerned himself with what else is going on at the position. “(The key is) just being available whenever my number is called,” he said. “If I just focus on what I have to do, I’ll be fine.”