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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Feb. 22 – A total of 13 student-athletes from Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A member schools have been selected to receive scholarships through its Scholar-Athlete Award program.
Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 22nd year of sponsoring the award, will give a $1,000 college scholarship to 32 individuals who represent their member school in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament. The first 30 scholarships are awarded proportionately by school classification and the number of student-athletes involved in those classes; and there are two at-large honorees which can come from any classification.
Each of the scholarship recipients will be honored at halftime ceremonies of the Class C Boys Basketball final game at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing on March 26. Commemorative medallions will be given to other finalists in recognition of their accomplishments.
The Class A Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Lindsay Marie Anderson, Byron Center; Kenneth John Baker, Holland; Taylor Marie Birman, Plymouth; Laura Glass, Portage Northern; Matthew Hing, Ann Arbor Pioneer; Courtney Jenkins, Pinckney; Emerald Joiner, Saginaw Arthur Hill; Nicholas Landgraf, Berkley; Justin Zachary Nance, University of Detroit Jesuit; Jennifer Sliva, Battle Creek Lakeview; Megan Marie Smith, Birmingham Seaholm; Erik Winnega, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse; and Zachary Zott, Lake Orion.
Overviews of the scholarship recipients of the Class A Scholar-Athlete Award follow. A quote from each recipient's essay is also included:
Lindsay Marie Anderson, Byron Center. Played three years of varsity in three sports – basketball, soccer and volleyball. Captained soccer team for three seasons, and basketball and volleyball for one. Won team Best Defensive Player honors in all three sports, and as volleyball team Most Valuable as a senior. All-conference selection in soccer and volleyball. In addition to two years in the National Honor Society, she was a class officer all four years of high school. Tutors other students in five different subjects. Attending the University of Michigan to study Pre-Dentistry.
Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is not a word that can be characterized by any number of expressions, sayings, or definition. Sportsmanship can only be learned through the experience one has through the moments they encounter in the game with other competitors. It is an acquired lifestyle – a choice that one makes to humbly take part in competition.”
Kenneth John Baker, Holland. Won seven varsity letters in baseball, soccer and swimming. Was All-State and all-conference in swimming; 2nd Team All-State and academic All-State in soccer. Team captain in all three sports. Took sports skills into the community as an official in baseball and soccer; and a lifeguard and Special Olympics swimming coach. Spent four years in LEAF Sustainability Club, a local recycling effort. Participated in three years of competition theatre and forensics. Two-time class president and member of National Honor Society. Will further educational career at Marquette University or the University of Wisconsin and study engineering.
Essay Quote – “Although our team did not win very many games, we learned to accept the gift of others and treat them with respect. This is a life skill that I will use every single day of my life. This is sportsmanship.”
Taylor Marie Birman, Plymouth. Team captain in basketball and lacrosse whileearning five varisty letters. Won hoop squad’s top defensive player award as a junior. Earned league Scholar-Athlete honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. Ranked at the top of her graduating class. While member of National Honor Society, participated in its tutoring program. Has worked throughout high school with Trinity Church's food bank. Plans to study psychology or human medicine while attending the Honors College at Michigan State University.
Essay Quote – “This is exactly what sportsmanship is all about: it’s the character that you demonstrate at all times, no matter what the scoreboard says. What will matter is how you represented yourself out there, how your treated other players, and how you developed your character along the way.”
Laura Glass, Portage Northern. Eleven varsity letters in her high school career, playing basketball, golf and soccer. Captained teams and won all-conference honors in all three sports. Was a three-time Most Valuable Player in golf, and won All-State honors twice. Spent four years in school Fellowship of Christian Athletes, community service programs, and as a tuba player in wind ensemble. Also involved in National Honor Society and Latin Club. Will attend Bethel College in the fall.
Essay Quote – “No matter the outcome, sportsmanship should be omnipresent. Winning with class is equally as important as losing with class; it is neither justifiable to brag about winning nor complain about losing and take away from the victorious side.”
Matthew Hing, Ann Arbor Pioneer. Played on four teams that qualified for MHSAA Lower Peninsula Tennis Finals. Was on a doubles tandem on championship squad in 2007, and played Number Two Singles when team finished second in 2010. Reached semifinals in both tournaments. Two-time tennis team captain. Received Senior Award For Academic Excellence. Volunteers to assist middle school students in academics and tennis. Member of Pioneer Key Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Student Council. Will pursue Pre-Med studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Essay Quote – “Sportsmanship is essential in educational athletics because it is the force that most defines whether one’s sports experience is enjoyable or unbearable. Once sportsmanship is stripped from the equation, teamwork, enthusiasm, an self-esteem are soon to follow.”
Courtney Jenkins, Pinckney. A seven-time letterwinner in golf and tennis. Was captain of links squad. Won conference all-academic honors in both sports. Four-year participant in student government. Member of school chapter of Business Professionals of America Club and National Honor Society. Was selected school’s Outstanding Business Student as a junior. Has mentored freshmen for two years and participated in Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Won 10-year award from Foundation Dance Ministry in ballet. Economics and Pre-Law studies are planned at either Hope College or Denison University.
Essay Quote – “As a golfer, I have a duty to uphold the integrity of the game. I love the competition, but I also embrace the responsibility to play within the regulations of the game.”
Emerald Joiner, Saginaw Arthur Hill. Lettered three times in basketball, and twice in softball, track and volleyball. An all-conference honoree in all three sports, and won team Most Valuable Player in volleyball as a junior. Twice captained hoop squad. Qualified for MHSAA Finals in track in the discus and shot put. Performed piano and voice solos throughout high school at winter and spring concerts. Volunteers as a local youth sports coach and as a pianist. National Honor Society member. Plans to attend Saginaw Valley State University to study music education.
Essay Quote – “I attend an inner-city school, and there are difficult challenges that many of my teammates have to face every day. I hope that the challenges that we face together in sports will help us all to face and conquer life’s challenges.”
Nicholas Landgraf, Berkley. Played varsity ice hockey, soccer and track; winning 11 letters. Won All-State recognition in soccer, along with all-conference honors. All-league academic honors garnered in all three sports. Participant in National, Science, Math, and Spanish Honor Society programs. Has served as a math tutor. A student ministry leader at his church. Winner in Voice of Democracy speech competition as a sophomore. Will study Pre-Med or engineering at Northwestern University.
Essay Quote – “When you are on a team, athletic camaraderie transcends all other discriminating factors to create a unified organization with the common goal of winning. Sportsmanship in this sense is about putting the team before yourself, and putting the organization and school before your own selfish interests.”
Justin Zachary Nance, Detroit U-D Jesuit. A four-year performer in both swimming and diving, and track and field. Also won First Honors Academic Award and Scholar-Athlete Award at his school all four years. President of the National Honor Society, captained debate team and serves as editor of the school newspaper. Involved in Student Senate, Tutoring Club, and a local food delivery project. A participant in a summer leadership camp at the U.S. Military Academy. Serves as a certified lifeguard and swimming instructor. Would like to attend Columbia University or the University of Michigan and study business and law to pursue a career in corporate law.
Essay Quote – “It is not important to be the best; it is only important to do my best. I have learned that true sportsmanship is the ability to walk away from a loss or a win contently knowing that I performed by best. Sportsmanship has brought me happiness, friends, and success.”
Jennifer Sliva, Battle Creek Lakeview. Twice lettered in basketball, softball and volleyball; and lettered once in track and field. An all-conference performer in softball and volleyball. Was team captain in basketball, softball and volleyball. Won academic All-State honors in volleyball. Four-year member of student government, and a three-year participant in the National Honor Society. Serving as editor of school yearbook in 2010-11. Honored by the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association for yearbook layout skills. Ranked at the top academically of her graduating class. Plans to major in business at either Michigan State University or Miami University in Ohio.
Essay Quote – “While young players have a fire inside them to be the best, they must learn to control that fire. Being a competitive player, I frequently find myself faced with situations where I must overcome my will to win in order to be courteous to my opponents.”
Megan Marie Smith, Birmingham Seaholm. Captained swim team as a senior, and qualified for MHSAA Finals for four straight years. Won All-State honors as part of relay team and was academic all-conference for three years. Also, four year varsity water polo player and senior captain. Four-year varsity member of marching band and was senior drum major. President of National Honor Society at her school, participated in student government, and served as president of her senior class. President of Seaholm Offers Support, a community service program. Would like to attend Georgetown University of Duke University, and pursue nursing or Pre-Med studies.
Essay Quote – “I have been fortunate to have coaches and parents set good examples as I have grown up. Now it is my turn to lead by example as captain of my swim and water polo teams. I will always show respect for my sport and my team by behaving in a manner that would make by coach, team and school proud.”
Erik Winnega, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse. Will wrap up high school career with four letters in baseball, three in wrestling and two in football; and captained all three teams. All-conference on the diamond and the gridiron, and qualified for MHSAA Finals in wrestling twice. Second team All-State in baseball as a junior. Academic all-conference honoree in all three sports. Has received Certificate of Scholastic Achievement on three occasions and a school Presidential award for Educational Excellence. Active in National and Match Honor Societies. Has volunteered locally with Kiwanis, Relay for Life and Special Olympics. Will attend the University of Michigan and study engineering.
Essay Quote – “It does not matter what an opponent does to you or a teammate, you must refuse to let your emotions get the best of you and channel your energy into something positive for your team. I learned this the hard way, and I will never again conduct myself in a way that anyone can put my sportsmanship into question.”
Zachary Zott, Lake Orion. A three-time letterwinner in baseball and football, and a team captain in both. Won Academic All-State honors in baseball, and was an all-conference performer in football. A member of his school’s National Honor Society and was a math tutor for two years. Has participated for four years in his local church’s Project Shalom, performing community service projects, and was a group leader in this effort. Will play football at Butler University, and will be enrolled as a Pre-Med student in the Honors Program.
Essay Quote – “In my eyes, the importance of sportsmanship is exactly this: that in displaying great sportsmanship one promotes others to have a sense of humility about themselves and an immense sense of respect for others.”
Other Class A girls finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Annie-Norah Beveridge, Ann Arbor Huron; Sarah Pink, Auburn Hills Avondale; Emily Lindsay, Davison; Makenzie Frodle, Fraser; Megan Bergeron, Grosse Pointe North; Victoria Balogh, Harrison Township L'Anse Creuse; Tara Lowe, Hartland; Jenna Mitchell, Holly; Devan Walworth, Holt; Kyla Walworth, Holt; Lauren McGlinn, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix; Megan McDonald, Livonia Churchill; Courtney Rouse, Midland; Jamie Sanderson, Midland Dow; Abigail Blanchard, Rockford; Nicole Ozminkowski, Saline; and Lauren Danielle Fitzpatrick, Warren Woods-Tower.
Other Class A boys finalists for the Scholar-Athlete Award were: Stuart Starkweather, Bay City Central; Ryan Haag, Bay City Western; Jesse James Metz, Bay City Western; Adam Ketai, Birmingham Groves; Sam Anderson, Birmingham Seaholm; Jeff Sattler, Byron Center; Eric Mowery, Fenton; T.J. VanSlooten, Grand Rapids Northview; James Arthur Guest, Grosse Pointe North; Austin Wissler, Marquette; Joseph Lautrup, Mattawan; Parker Millington, Milford; Tyler Day Jones, Owosso; Andrew D. Rademacher, Rockford; Daniel R. Adsit, Salem; Mackenzie Sovereign, Traverse City Central; Jack Stevens, Traverse City Central; and Brandon Harnos, Wayne Memorial.
Previously announced were the scholarship recipients in Classes B, C and D. The Class B Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Kelsey K. Carney, Jackson Northwest; Brandon Gregg, Edwardsburg; Breanne Lesnar, Freeland; Nick Olesak, Gladstone; Gabriel B. Raymer, Caro; Patrick D. Roberts, Chelsea; Caroline Shinkle, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood; Leigh Slater, St. Clair Shores South Lake; and Joseph Walbridge, Richland Gull Lake.
The Class C Scholar-Athlete Award honorees are: Collin A Breit, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian; Sam Davis, Potterville; Michael Thomas Elliott, Traverse City St Francis; Chelsey Ewald, Unionville-Sebewaing; Alexandra Spaulding, Watervliet; and Jenna Whipple, Potterville.
The Class D Scholar-Athlete Award scholarship recipients are: Kelsie Lyn Blamer, Mio; Heather Lantis, Hillsdale Academy; Eric Anthony Lisznyai, Hillsdale Academy; and Garrett Slavik, Fulton.
Students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average, and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.
Farm Bureau Insurance, one of Michigan's major insurers, has a statewide force of 450 agents serving more than 450,000 Michigan policyholders. Besides providing life, home auto, farm, business and retirement insurance, the company also sponsors lifesaving, real-time Doppler weather tracking systems in several Michigan communities.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,600 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract approximately 1.6 million spectators each year.