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PSU Softball player named recipient of ECAC Award of Valor

PSU Softball player named recipient of ECAC Award of Valor

Ali Keith returns to field after overcoming personal illness

            CENTERVILLE, Mass. - Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Commissioner Dr. Kevin T. McGinniss announced today the five recipients of the 2013 ECAC Award of Valor. Bucknell University's Leonard Joseph (Whitesboro, N.Y.), University of New Hampshire's Cameron Lyle (Plaistow, N.H.), Plymouth State University's Ali Keith (Northfield, N.H.), Clark University's Reed Powell (Worcester, Mass.) and Emmanuel College's Craig Schoaf (Raynham, Mass.) will be honored at the 2013 ECAC Honors Dinner sponsored by Jostens, held in conjunction with the 25th Annual ECAC Convention and Trade Show that will be held September 29 - October 1 at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, Mass. The Honors Dinner is on Sunday, September 29 at 6:30pm. To register and attend the ECAC Honors Dinner, please visit ecac.org/convention.

            The ECAC Award of Valor is awarded annually and was established in 1985 to honor Eastern College Athletic Conference student-athletes whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serves as an inspiration to all.  The recipients of the Award of Valor exemplify strength of character and perseverance deserving recognition as being truly triumphant. 

Leonard Joseph - Bucknell University - Track & Field

            When Leonard Joseph placed 11th in the hammer throw at the 2013 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., he became the first two-time All-American at Bucknell is 36 years. One of the most decorated throwers in the history of the University, Joseph also captured Patriot League and ICAAAA gold medals in the hammer throw during the 2013 Outdoor Track and Field season, is the school record-holder in the hammer throw and helped lead the Bison to four consecutive Patriot League outdoor team titles.

            "Lenny may have been one of the most focused and invested student-athletes that I have ever known,"  said Kevin Donner, Head Coach for Cross Country & Indoor/Outdoor Men's and Women's Track & Field at Bucknell University. "He came from a very tough family background and was not your stereotypical Bucknell student. He really invested into the Bucknell athletic and academic scene in full force.  His number one goal was to be an All American in which he succeeded and of course he led us to numerous Patriot League Team Championships."

            Off the track, he is one of the most inspiring student-athletes to ever attend Bucknell. At the age of 10, circumstances forced Joseph out of his childhood home and into his aunt's basement. He eventually moved in with his high school principal and was driven to do whatever he could to succeed at Bucknell. As a freshman with the Bison, Joseph had doubts whether he was a good fit and contemplated leaving the school. Through his perseverance and dedication to both academics and athletics, Joseph graduated with honors in May 2013 with a degree in Psychology and a 3.53 cumulative grade point average, earning Academic All-Patriot League Team honors and Capital One Academic All-District Team accolades. 

            Donner went on to say, "Bucknell was very good for Lenny and Lenny was very good for Bucknell.  He was a dedicated student who pushed himself to the academic limit as well.  I look for Lenny to be in our Hall of Fame in 10 years." 

Cameron Lyle - University of New Hampshire - Track & Field

            After competing in the first three meets of the 2012-2013 Outdoor Track and Field season, taking second place in the shot put during two of those events, Cameron Lyle was notified by the Be The Match registry that he was indeed a bone marrow match. Lyle decided to forgo the remainder of his senior season and collegiate career to donate his bone marrow and save the life of an anonymous recipient who was battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In recognition of his selfless act, Lyle was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week. Lyle rejoined his Wildcat teammates in spirit for the America East Championships and the ICAAAA meets after his procedure was completed. He was named the first America East Award of Valor award winner in June 2013.

"As a member of the men's track and field program, Cam put in countless hours in the weight room and in the track working on his events, but he did not hesitate to be the donor," said Jim Boulanger, Head Coach of the University of New Hampshire Men's Cross Country and Track & Field Programs. "He is a sensitive, thoughtful and caring individual. He chose the only thing one could do and that is to help prolong a life. Someone you do not know and have never met would benefit from your youth, vigor and marrow. I have coached for 40 years and Cam will always be a champion to those who know that life is more important than sport." 

Ali Keith - Plymouth State University - Softball

            Ali Keith entered her junior year at Plymouth State University in the fall of 2010 as the top returning pitcher on the softball team. On the second day of classes, Keith was informed what she thought was just a nagging cough, was in fact Hodgkin's lymphoma. She began rigorous treatment that included chemotherapy every other week for six months. After six months of treatment, Keith was declared cancer-free in March 2011. By May 2011, the cancer had returned and forced her into another round of chemo, followed by a stem cell transplant in the fall. She spent a month in the hospital, followed by two months in a bubble. Once again deemed cancer-free, she was able to enroll at Plymouth State for the 2012 spring semester and was able to participate on the first day of practice. Keith has now been in remission for two years and served as the Panthers' captain during both her junior and senior seasons.

            "Watching a 20-year-old handle this with class and dignity, and with the determination to conquer, it had a huge impact on me and her teammates," said Plymouth State University Softball Head Coach Bruce Addison. "I don't think I have met someone who has inspired so many. We all can learn to face adversity from Ali for sure." 

Reed Powell - Clark University – Basketball

            Growing up less than 500 yards from the Clark University campus, Reed Powell knew exactly where he wanted to play college basketball. As a freshman, Powell appeared in all 25 games for the Cougars, making five starts and averaging nearly 20 minutes of action per contest. His sophomore season, he tore his Anterior Crucial Ligament, sidelining him for the entire 2007-2008 season and limiting his abilities as a junior. Powell helped lead Clark to the New England Men's and Women's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) basketball championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament the following season, advancing to the second round.

            As he was preparing to begin graduate school, Powell was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident. He suffered a broken clavicle and scapula, shattered ribs, punctured both lungs, lacerated his spleen and was bleeding internally. Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma. While in the coma, his heart stopped, but the medical team was able to revive it. Powell lost 50 pounds and was in the Intensive Care Unit for six weeks and returned home in time to start his MBA. By March, he had made the decision to apply for, and was granted, a waiver to complete his final year of eligibility. Powell played in 20 games for the Cougars last season. In May 2013, the Clark University Department of Athletics announced the creation of the Reed Powell Award, which will be given periodically to the student-athlete who exhibits the most remarkable levels of perseverance, bravery, emotional strength, physical fortitude and courage.

            "This award signifies something so many of us in the Clark University community already knew – Reed Powell is an amazing young man with unquestioned will and determination," said Sean Sullivan, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Clark. "We are unbelievably proud for all that he has accomplished." 

Craig Schoaf - Emmanuel College - Cross Country

            On Monday, April 15, 2013, 10 student-athletes from Emmanuel College volunteered to work the finish line at the Boston Marathon. It marked one of many "Marathon Mondays" in which student-athletes make the 1.6 mile trip down Boylston Street from campus to help in one of Boston's biggest sporting events. Craig Schoaf was not among the 10 volunteers at the finish line. Schoaf, a freshman on the Emmanuel Cross Country and Outdoor Track & Field Team, was on campus when he first learned of the tragic events that took place just a few feet from where the volunteers had been stationed.

            Fearing the worst, he sprinted to the finish line and encountered a horrific scene. He searched desperately for his teammates, only to be informed they had been relieved of their duties and sent back to campus roughly 20 minutes before the bombings. Rather than return to campus to join his teammates, Schoaf went to work alongside Boston's first responders. Over the course of the next six hours, he helped hundreds of displaced runners, many of which had no means of communication or places to go. Schoaf walked the runners, one-by-one, to hotels and various meeting points throughout the city to ensure they would be accounted for and receive the necessary care. It wasn't until after dark that he finally returned to campus.

            "We are very proud of Craig and his effort in the aftermath of Boston Marathon tragedy. In honoring Craig with the ECAC Award of Valor, the ECAC recognizes the amazing courage, empathy and bravery he showed assisting others immediately following the bombing," said Pamela Roecker, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Emmanuel College. "Craig was only a freshman at the time, but he was fearless and tireless in his effort assisting runners and families in their time of need. Emmanuel College prides itself in having a student body that is socially aware and community service orientated and Craig certainly epitomizes this on every level. Thank you to the ECAC for selecting this young man as an Award of Valor recipient—you could not have selected a better Saint!" 

For more information visit www.ecacsports.com 

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