Peru State women's golf student-athlete Marisa Pribnow (Lincoln) has been named the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) recipient of the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character award.
Pribnow noted she is very honored to be named as the Heart's Walker Award winner. Pribnow said, "I have been blessed with having such an outstanding support system throughout my collegiate career with my family, coaches, teammates, professors, and friends." In terms of her activities, Pribnow added, "It is very important to me to give back to the community and to serve others, especially when you are in a leadership role."
The NAIA Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award for student-athletes is one of the most prestigious awards in the NAIA and was created in association with National Sports Foundation, a group of sports organizations that promote and recognize sportsmanship. Dr. Walker was a former president of the NAIA and president emeritus of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The award honors outstanding student-athletes for their academics, athletics, leadership, and dedication to living the core values of Champions of Character.
In order to be nominated, a student-athlete must be at least a junior in academic status with a 3.0 grade point average or higher; be involved on campus and community leadership; embrace the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character, and have athletic achievements. Pribnow had to submit a resume and an essay on how she demonstrated one of the core values of the Champions of Character. Also, three letters of recommendation were required as part of the nomination process.
Pribnow, a junior English teaching and coaching major, has a cumulative 3.885 grade point average. Some of her academic achievements include being on the Dean's List for four semesters, Honors Program, Board of Trustees Scholar, and membership in Sigma Tau Delta – the international English Honor Society.
Some of Pribnow's campus activities include Student Senate, Student Ambassador, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Resident Assistant, Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) – recently elected as the communications officer, and a member of the women's golf program which has the highest team cumulative grade point average.
Current teammate Emie Hausmann (Columbus) submitted one of the letters of recommendation. An excerpt from Hausmann's letter states "To start off, you will not find someone who will be there for you in seconds like Marisa. If any of her teammates call her needing help, she is there right away. This is on and off the course. Marisa is the one we turn to when we need help in our golf game if Coach Hahn is not around."
Pribnow's athletic honors include two golf letters, being the team's SAAC representative for two years, Heart All-Conference First Team for two years, five-time Heart Golfer of the Week, four-time Athlete of the Month for Peru State, Graceland University individual medalist, and earning top ten finishes in ten different tournaments in the past two years.
Other campus and community service activities in which Pribnow has been involved include SAAC's Make A Difference Day, coordinating with Hausmann a holiday card campaign for deployed Nebraska soldiers, St. Elizabeth's hospital volunteer, Lincoln Diocese Youth Ministry Outdoors Camp Leader for four years, summer Bright Lights Program volunteer, Special Education Career Day volunteer, Special Education Prom volunteer, and high school golf camp instructor for four years.
Former Bobcat golf coach Brett Hahn was pleased to learn of Pribnow's conference recognition. In his letter, Hahn stated, "Marisa is the epitome of the core values of the NAIA Champions of Character. She possesses the integrity to do things right while making sure that she respects all individuals. Marisa handles responsibility well and displays sportsmanship not only on the golf course, but in other athletic venues when supporting her fellow Bobcat student-athletes. Her effort with various community service projects demonstrates her servant leadership."
Pribnow's other letter of recommendation came from her academic adviser, Dr. Daniel J. Holtz, Professor of English at Peru State. Part of Holtz's letter states this about Pribnow, "Like any student-athlete, she has to balance the love for her sport with the reality of needing to do well academically. From my more than 35 years of college teaching, I have not seen anyone more clearly exemplify the qualities of a student-athlete than she does."
Pribnow's nomination has been forwarded by the conference to the NAIA national office for judging with the other conference nominees. The winner will be announced in September as part of the NAIA National Awards Day.