Fall Spirit of Service Winners Announced
Dec. 19, 2012
IRVING, Texas - Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced the 12 student-athletes that will receive the C-USA Fall Spirit of Service award today. 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 will be presented three times throughout the season, with today's honorees representing Conference USA's fall sports: football, soccer, volleyball and cross country.
2012-13 FALL C-USA SPIRIT OF SERVICE HONOREES:
Senior Antonio Palmer is a member of the East Carolina cross country and track & field teams. A health and fitness specialist major, Palmer stays active in the community with a number of projects. He has been involved with the Friends of Greenville Greenways, the Building Hope Community Life Center, The Salvation Army and the First Born Community Development Center Food Bank. The Gaithersburg, Md., native has also worked on a number of ECU athletics initiatives, including Letterwinners Weekend and the Track & Field Invitational.
Houston senior defensive tackle Ameen Behbahani closed out his collegiate career by playing in 11 games with six tackles for the Cougars this season. He was involved in a number of community activities, volunteering with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Wade Smith Foundation's Reading with the Pros program. Behbahani was also a member of the EOC Sexual Assault Prevention Committee and was a counselor at Dr. Bott's Science Camp. A kinesiology-sport administration major, Behbahani hails from Plano, Texas.
Freshman soccer player Jack Hopkins of Marshall played 17 matches for the Thundering Herd and netted four goals, while taking an active role in the Huntington, W.Va., community. The physical therapy major from Birmingham, Ala., reads to local elementary school students, is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, helps lead food drives and volunteers his time with Habitat for Humanity. Hopkins spent a portion of his summer volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti.
Representing Memphis is junior football player Jacob Karam, a native of Friendswood, Texas. Karam graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in university studies with concentrations in communication studies, legal studies and political science from Texas Tech in December 2011. He is currently pursuing a master's of arts in liberal studies and earned a spot on the C-USA All-Academic team in his first season with the Tigers. While Memphis student-athletes are involved in many community service projects through the athletic department's Life Skills office, he has given of his time in efforts which have extended beyond the opportunities coordinated by the department. Karam played piano during a St. Jude Children's Research Hospital outing for its patients to Wolfchase Galleria Mall. He said the most rewarding part of the event was having students come up and tell him their favorite song and then he accompanying them on piano while they sang into a microphone. He has also played piano and spent time with children doing arts and crafts at the Memphis Target House, a long-term patient residence affiliated with St. Jude. Karam has also played piano weekly at the Catholic Student Center and been a reader at the U of M's Campus School on several occasions.
Rice junior Michael Kutzler, a Fort Worth, Texas, native, is a three-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll member and a linebacker on the Owls' football team. The political science major participated in the International Students Football Clinic, the Challenger Football game, West University Elementary Field Day, student move-in and the Texas Children's Hospital visit this fall, as well as staying involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters events and the local Cub Scouts. Kutzler is a former walk-on student-athlete who earned a scholarship and led the team in special teams tackles in 2012 and returned a fumbled kickoff for a touchdown against Southern Miss.
SMU sophomore Lauryn Bodden started 17 games for the Mustang women's soccer team and serves as vice president of public relations for SAAC. She is very active and passionate about serving the Dallas community, volunteering at the Promise House-Wesley Inn Program, Kids Get Fit Dallas, National Girls and Women in Sport Clinic and Special Olympics. She also took part in a Girl Scout's soccer clinic this fall. Bodden is active with Relay for Life and has completed more than seven mission trips. As part of Conference USA's "Let's SAAC Hunger" initiative, Bodden organized collection points and spearhead the publicity for SAAC's food drive campaign. As a result, SAAC collected more than 1,500 canned goods and $1,300 accounting for 5,079 meals or 9,965 pounds that benefited the North Texas Food Bank. In goal, she recorded four shutouts, including two in conference play, and tallied 63 saves for the season and finished with a 1.26 goals against average. Bodden also tallied seven saves in SMU's upset of No. 8 UCF Oct. 17. The Tampa, Fla., native maintained a 3.449 cumulative GPA as a communications major.
Stephanie Ledgerwood of Southern Miss is an all-conference cross country runner, a standout student and community leader. She finished third at this year's C-USA Cross Country Championship and never finished lower than 15th at any meet this season for the Golden Eagles. Ledgerwood has impacted children in the Hattiesburg, Miss., area through literacy promotion at NR Burger Middle School and by encouraging students during a pep rally at Grace Christian Elementary to do well on state exams. She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, First Baptist Church Hattiesburg, the Yuma Regional Medical Center, Woodward Junior High and the Hattiesburg Police Department. Ledgerwood is a three-time C-USA Academic Medal winner and a three-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll member with a 3.93 GPA in forensics from Yuma, Ariz.
Junior cross country runner Callie Turlington represents the Tulane Green Wave as a Spirit of Service winner. A member of SAAC as the Community Service Representative, she has participated in Tulane Fan Day, Shadow A Student Athlete Day, Wave Days and the Cactus Youth event on the Tulane Campus. She assisted with the Let's SAAC Hunger Food Drive benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank. Turlington also served as a running mentor for 25 young girls as part of the Girls on the Run Program and helped raise more than $50,00 for the Devon Walker Fund at events surrounding Tulane football games. She is a two-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Tulane 3.0 Club. She ran in four meets and posted her best finish with a ninth place effort in the Screamin' Eagle Invite and ran a season-best 19:33.2 in the 5K at the Conference USA 5K.
Tulsa senior football player Cory Dorris started 50 of 51 career games for the Golden Hurricane. He has 204 career stops, 27.5 TFLs for -109 yards and 11.5 sacks for -67 yards, as well as five fumble recoveries and three caused fumbles in his career. The All-Conference USA first team selection became the fifth current Tulsa player to surpass 200 career tackles and has seven career blocked kicks (5 PATs, 2 FG). A native of Tulsa, the marketing/management major does so much for his hometown. He volunteers for Bit by Bit, Northeast Oklahoma's premier therapeutic riding program that was created to make a difference in the lives of individuals with special needs through the use of equine assisted therapy. Dorris has also been a big brother in Big Brothers-Big Sisters for three years, and volunteered for the Salvation Army and Camp Dry Gulch, spending two days with a group of special needs children playing water sports, go cart racing, bumper cars, arcade video games, basketball, billiards and "made up" games.
Alison Woods of UAB eclipsed both 3,000 assists and 1,000 digs during her senior volleyball season. The medical industrial distribution major from Franklin, Tenn., boasts a 3.53 GPA and is a three-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor member. Woods is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Race for the Cure and Tornado Relief, while also working with children through the Ronald McDonald House, Pump It Up and Blazer Buddies.
UCF senior Tishia Jewell was recipient of the prestigious Senior CLASS Award and adds this Spirit of Service recognition among her many honors. She has volunteered countless hours at numerous local organizations, including The Haven for Children (for abused and neglected youth); Szuba Guardian Care Solutions, Inc.; Women's Center in Brevard; and Relay for Life. She has also served as the lead volunteer at the Creative School for Children and has worked as a volunteer coach at the Central Florida Kraze soccer fields. Jewell earned her bachelor's degree in psychology in just two years at UCF, and is pursuing two master's degrees. A native of Satellite Beach, Fla., she has been recognized as a NSCAA/Adidas Collegiate Scholar All-American and is a three-time selection to the C-USA Academic Honor Roll. This year, she was named to the C-USA All-Academic Team for the second-straight year. On the soccer field, she became the program's career assists (36) leader in 2012. As a team captain, Jewell helped lead the team to its highest national ranking (No. 6) in the past two decades this season. She is a three-time all-Central Region honoree, a three-time All-Conference USA honoree and a 2011 NSCAA All-American.
UTEP cross country runner Risper Kimaiyo repeats as the Fall Spirit of Service winner. She is a four-time All-America selection who became the first woman in program and conference history to claim back-to-back Mountain Region titles. The 2012 C-USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year finished fifth at the NCAA Championships posting a personal-best (19:41.0) in the 6K race. A native of Iten, Kenya, Kimaiyo has completed 12 hours of community service this season. She is an active volunteer that has helped in Tots for Trots, where she assisted runners throughout the event. She has also volunteered during the soccer tailgate, where she played arts and crafts and interacted with kids. She has also been a part of Minerpalooza and 50/50 Raffle Ticket Sales. Kimaiyo is a representative at SAAC meetings, where she helps come up with community service events and discusses rule implementations with other student-athletes. A two-time selection to the Conference USA All-Academic cross country team, Kimaiyo maintains a 3.56 GPA as a pre-nursing major.