Athletics News

C-USA Spirit of Service Honorees Recognized for Spring 2013

Go C-USA! Ashley Gue
Ashley Gue

June 11, 2013

IRVING, Texas - Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced the 12 student-athletes that will receive the C-USA Spring Spirit of Service Award. The C-USA Spirit of Service Award is designed to recognize the community service efforts of the league's student-athletes, based upon significant community service, good academic standing and participation in their elected sport.

The Spirit of Service award is presented three times throughout the season, with these honorees representing Conference USA's spring sports: baseball, men's and women's golf, women's rowing, softball, men's and women's tennis and men's and women's outdoor track and field. Marshall softball student-athlete Ashley Gue and SMU rower Emily Carstens are repeat recipients of this award.

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Jill Jelnick, East Carolina, Softball
Holly Anderson, Houston, Softball
Ashley Gue, Marshall, Softball
Natalie Turk, Memphis, Women's Golf
James Ragan, Rice, Men's Golf
Emily Carstens, SMU, Women's Rowing
Charlotte McLoughlin, Southern Miss, Women's Golf
Candice St. Etienne, Tulane, Women's Track & Field
Allyson Brooks, Tulsa, Women's Rowing
Lannah Campbell, UAB, Softball
Mario Samson, UCF, Men's Tennis
Abiola Onakoya, UTEP, Men's Track & Field

East Carolina's Jill Jelnick has given back to the Greenville, N.C., community and achieved success in the classroom and for the Pirate softball team. Jelnick maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA as an English major and was a member of the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Second Team and a three-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll selection and Academic Medal recipient. She has been involved with more than 20 community outreach events, which included serving as captain of the 2013 Relay for Life and numerous SAAC initiatives. Jelnick was also in charge of the softball team's 2nd Annual Pink Ribbon game to help raise awareness for breast cancer research. She produced a video of the team speaking about breast cancer and providing facts in between innings, while also organizing give-away prizes, a pink ribbon dedication board, publicity and pink ribbon attire for the team. A native of Aliso Viejo, Calif., Jelnick has twice been selected to the C-USA All-Academic softball team.

Holly Anderson is a senior third baseman on the Houston softball team, earning 2013 All-Conference First Team and NFCA All-Region Second Team honors. She led the league with a school-record 16 doubles, while placing second in home runs (12), RBI (53), slugging percentage (.648) and total bases (118) to help lead the Cougars to a NCAA at-large berth. A two-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, Anderson is a health major originally from Dickinson, Texas. In addition to her athletic and academic achievements, she has volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, provided free instruction at softball clinics and visited with and read to local elementary school children. Along with her teammates, they worked the "Kids Zone" before home football games, supervising the children and painting faces. The softball team also "adopted" a 12-year-old cancer patient, inviting her on the field and spending time with her in the hospital and on the phone during her final days.

Marshall's Ashley Gue continues to make her mark in her hometown of Huntington, W.Va., as a three-time recipient of the Spirit of Service Award. The senior captain led the Herd softball team to its first Conference USA championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Gue also earned a spot on the C-USA All-Tournament Team and finished her career ranked No. 2 in school history for stolen bases. Gue has been involved in more than 21 community service activities in the Huntington area and visited the Dominican Republic as part of a mission trip with her church. She is an active member of softball's Lil Sis Program, and has worked with the March of Dimes, St. Jude's Walk, Marshall Sweetheart Clinic, Operation Christmas Child, City Mission Ministries and the Marshall FCA. A biomedical sciences major with a minor in chemistry and psychology, Gue has made the Dean's List each semester and is a four-time selection to the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll.

Memphis sophomore golfer Natalie Turk already has several accomplishments as a Tiger student-athlete. A native of Brentwood, Tenn., Turk maintains a 3.80 GPA as a health and human performance-exercise and sport major. She has made the Dean's List all four semesters and is a two-time selection to the C-USA Commissioner's honor roll, while competing in 19 rounds of golf for the Tigers this season. During the past year, she organized a visit for student-athletes from various sports to tour St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and speak to patients. Turk was a volunteer "celebrity," answering phone calls to collect money for St. Jude's during local radio station WGKX-FM's St. Jude Radiothon. She also took part in the Martin Luther King Day of Service, spending the morning of MLK Day at Shelby Farms Park working on beautification projects. Turk also participated and interacted with presenters at the Mid-South Access Center for Technology Fair which showcased projects done by children and adults with disabilities.

James Ragan, a sophomore student-athlete on the Owls' men's golf team, is not only a leader on the Rice campus but has served as a national ambassador. Ragan founded Triumph Over Kid Cancer, a regionally recognized philanthropic group that works to raise funds and awareness for pediatric bone cancer. Triumph Over Kid Cancer has raised more than $750,000 for pediatric cancer research. Since his 2006 diagnosis of osteosarcoma, he has served as a national spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids and became the first MD Anderson Cancer Center patient to serve as an ambassador for the nationally renowned treatment facility. In addition to this and his participation on the golf team, Ragan maintains a 3.84 grade point average. He has twice been named to the Rice University President's Honor Roll and the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, he averaged 76.33 strokes per round on the season.

SMU senior rower Emily Carstens earns her second Spirit of Service honore. A native of Tulsa, Okla., she has made an immediate impact with her service to the Dallas community. She served as the SAAC Vice President of Community Service, organizing the Let's SAAC Hunger and SAAC Thank-a-Thon programs. Carstens continues to work with the Big Brother, Big Sisters of Dallas and has worked as an English-to-Spanish translator at the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center. She has also volunteered at the Genesis Women's Center, Promise House, North Texas Food Bank and the Stonewall Jackson Elementary School and Foundry Church Halloween carnivals. Carstens is a four-time selection to the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll as a business management major, with a minor in biological sciences, women's and gender studies. A 2013 All-Conference USA selection, All-Academic team member and captain of the Mustang rowing team, Carstens holds the second-fastest erg time in SMU history.

A member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Southern Miss sophomore golfer Charlotte McLoughlin is active in many community service functions. She participated in the Girl Scouts opening day ceremony, Read Across America for Hattiesburg, Miss., elementary schools and Operation Christmas Child, an annual service drive to put together Christmas boxes for area children. McLoughlin, a native of Metarie, La., also volunteered with First Tee of Greater New Orleans and the St. Angela Merici Catholic Church youth group retreat. A broadcast journalism major, McLoughlin earned a spot on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.

Senior track & field student-athlete Candice St. Etienne served as vice president for Tulane's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which was involved in five major initiatives this year. SAAC raised $60,000 for Tulane football player Devon Walker, who was severely injured in a Sept. 8 football game at Tulsa, by selling t-shirts and wrist bands at home football games. For the Second Harvest Food Bank, she helped collect more than $3,400 during the holiday season. During Wave Days, an annual event hosted at the Louisiana Superdome, SAAC partnered with elementary schools to educate 500 students about the possibility of going to college and continuing their education. She also participated in the Shadow a Student-Athlete Day, where 60 Harriet Tubman Charter students to follow individual student-athletes through a typical morning, attending classes and walking around the Uptown Campus. Lastly, St. Etienne participated in the Samaritan's Feet event, purchasing new shoes - sometimes the very first pair of new shoes - for children at Martin Behrman Elementary. A May 2013 graduate with a degree in neuroscience and a minor in Spanish, she plans to enter LSU Dental School in the fall of 2013. St. Etienne was an integral part of the Tulane outdoor track and field team in the 400 meter hurdles and the 4 x 400 meter relay team. She also received the 2013 Wilson Award, considered to be the most prestigious won by a Tulane student-athlete.

Tulsa senior Allyson Brooks of Moorestown, N.J., was a member of the Varsity 8+ Tulsa crew and earned All-Conference honors this season. She participated in a number of community service projects, including working with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Center for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, Tulsa Zoo and Lift Up America, distributing Tyson's chicken. Brooks also volunteered for Tulsa Rotary's Shop with a Cop, partnering with Tulsa police officer to help children shop for Christmas gifts. An exercise sport science major, Gorman was a two-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, earned four mentions on the Tulsa Dean's List and was named to the President's List in Summer 2011.

Junior pitcher Lannah Campbell was a leader on the UAB softball team that captured a C-USA regular season title and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional. A 2013 All-Conference USA First Team selection and NFCA Second Team Mideast Region pick, Campbell led a trio of UAB pitchers with a 14-6 record, struck out team-high 180 batters and helped the Blazers to a school-record 40 wins on the season. During her three-year career at UAB, Campbell has been involved with numerous children's service opportunities in Birmingham. She has spent time reading to children during Glen Iris Elementary School's Dr. Seuss Week and at the Child Development Center this past February. She also visited the Alabama Children's Hospital and the VA Hospital in Birmingham with her teammates. In 2012, Campbell visited Bryant Elementary School and worked the fall festival at Glen Iris Elementary School. Campbell, a native of Satsuma, Ala., is an exercise science major at UAB.

UCF senior Mario Samson serves as team captain of the Knight men's tennis team and co-chair of the UCF SAAC Community Service committee. He participated in the inaugural Knights Without Borders trip, going to Panama to help repair an orphanage and organized UCF Athletics' Gingerbread House of Hope program during the holiday season, which provided donated toys to Pinecrest Elementary. Samson also volunteered at Relay for Life, Miracle League and participated in UCF Athletics pen pal program, writing to students at Jackson Heights Middle School once a month about topics including motivation, importance of staying in school, peer pressure and health and nutrition. He received the UCF PRIDE Award for work with UCF SAAC. A civil engineering major from Miami, Samson was named to 2012-13 Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll and plans to attend graduate school at UCF.

UTEP junior sprinter Abiola Onakoya qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Round in the 400m and 4x400m relay and was the anchor of the 4x400m relay that earned a spot in the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a personal-best time of 3:06.88. He claimed two gold (400m and 4x400m relay) and one bronze medal (200m) at the 2013 C-USA Outdoor Championships, leading the Miners to their first championship title since 2008. A native of Ijebu Ode, Nigeria, Onakoya also accumulated 20 hours of community service hours during the 2012-13 season volunteering his time to serve the El Paso community. Onakoya helped UTEP's Project Move by offering assistance to La Posada Home by assisting in house renovations and playing with children from the community. Onakoya was an academic decathlon judge for a middle school and provided children with valuable feedback for future competitions. He was an active member of UTEP's Let's SAAC Hunger campaign and volunteered at the Miracle League of El Paso and the 50/50 raffle collecting donations for the student advisory committee.

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