Jill Lee

Senior CLASS Goes Beyond the Stats and Grades

by Jill Lee March 11, 2015 in

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Let’s be honest. The first things we usually look at when we read the bios of the Senior CLASS Award nominees are their stats and grade-point averages. What are they doing on the court or field, and how are they performing in the classroom? Undoubtedly, those are important categories—nonnegotiable, in fact. But if we skim over the middle two categories—character and community—we’re really missing out on the absolute best parts of these student-athletes.

One of the great things about the Senior CLASS Award is that it recognizes competitors for standing out as athletes, students and as basic humans. These men and women play hard and study hard, but they do so with integrity, respect and selflessness. It’s not rare for their community service notes to be equally as long as their competition stats or for their character description to feature detailed quotes from their coaches about how honorable they are in every aspect.

Take Kathlyn Medina for example. As a senior on the reigning National Champion Florida Gators’ softball team, Medina and her teammates walked through the final stages of life with 16-year-old cancer patient Heather Braswell, who had been “adopted” as part of the team through the Friends of Jaclyn Organization. When they won their title last June, they did it in her honor, as she’d passed away just 10 weeks earlier. Compassion like that requires a kind of CLASS that has little to do with lecture halls or a ball diamond.

Or look at Tyler Hawes, a senior finalist from the BYU men’s basketball team. After the devastating tsunami that rocked the Philippines in 2013, Hawes—who had become endeared to the country’s people while serving there on an extended missions trip—took to YouTube to start a viral campaign to raise funds for the relief efforts. Again, totally out of the expected behavior for a Division I college athlete with a full schedule.

Then there’s Elizabeth Williams—one of the top women’s basketball players in the nation. As a senior at Duke and three-time All-American, Williams has earned a reputation as one of the most well-liked and well-respected athletes in the country. And she’s so involved with community service that it’s easy to see why. During her time at Duke Williams has tutored elementary students, spent time visiting senior citizens at a local assisted living home, led Bible studies, given campus tours to incoming students, read to local children, served as a basketball camp counselor, helped with after-school recreational programs and, yes, even more. Truly inspiring.

These are the kinds of stories we can’t miss when looking at the outstanding Senior CLASS Award candidates. They’re outstanding for more reasons than points per game or straight A’s. These athletes are the whole package—well-rounded men and women who are respectable, selfless and full of Senior CLASS.