Florida Tech Named Finalist For NCAA Division II Award of Excellence

By  //  December 26, 2015

representING the Sunshine State Conference

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech submitted a video highlighting the Panthers’ partnership with The Scott Center for Autism Treatment and Team IMPACT for consideration for the 2016 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence. The theme of the video is “Special Kids Become Special Panthers.” It centers on a special day FIT hosted for children from the two organizations. The day featured a medal presentation at halftime of the Nov. 7 Homecoming Football Game against then No. 1 West Georgia.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech is one of 25 finalists chosen for consideration for the 2016 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence.

The Panthers’ nomination, titled “Special Kids Become Special Panthers,” was picked to represent the Sunshine State Conference. The nomination highlights the athletic department’s partnership with The Scott Center for Autism Treatment’s social skills group and Team IMPACT.

“I’m extremely proud of our coaches and student-athletes for their commitment to working with children in our community who have special needs,” Athletics Director Bill Jurgens said.

“These children have learned sports skills, formed great relationships with our teams and have become part of the Panther family. Being a finalist in the NCAA Division II Award of Excellence is a tribute to the Florida Tech coaches and student-athletes, who have given so much of their time and positive energy to improve the quality of life of these special kids.”

A video, produced for the nomination by Barry Eager ’89 from Phantom Productions of Florida, centers on a special day dedicated to the children from these two special groups. That special day was Panther Football’s Homecoming Game versus then No. 1 West Georgia.

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During halftime, FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony Catanese, Board of Trustee, football legend and autism advocate Doug Flutie, and Jurgens presented children from the social skills group and Team IMPACT with an Honorary Panther Medal.

The video includes footage from the halftime ceremony, from social skills group sessions and Team IMPACT signing day ceremonies.

It also features interviews with Dana Gadaire, who oversees the social skills program at The Scott Center, and two student-athletes whose teams have a child from Team IMPACT: senior men’s lacrosse player Alex Carlson and sophomore softball player Amanda Kahn.

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In total, 22 institutions and three conferences were named finalists for the award, which recognizes positive initiatives that occurred in 2015.

The national winner and two runner-up recipients will be announced during the NCAA Division II Business Session at the 2016 NCAA Convention on Jan. 16 in San Antonio. The winner will receive a nationally televised football or basketball game during the 2016-17 season and $1,500.

The first runner-up will receive $1,250, and the second runner-up will receive $1,000. All prize money is expected to be used on future community engagement initiatives.

Doug Flutie (left) and FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony Catanese (right) present medals to children at halftime of the Nov. 7 football game. (Florida Tech image)
Doug Flutie (left) and FIT President and CEO Dr. Anthony Catanese (right) present medals to children at halftime of the Nov. 7 football game. (Florida Tech image)


School: Goldey-Beacom College

Conference: Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference

Event: Halloween 5K Costume Run and Fun Walk in conjunction with the Bras for the Cause. The event raised funds and awareness for breast cancer.

School: California State University-Stanislaus

Conference: California Collegiate Athletic Association

Event: Anti-bullying assemblies. The student-athlete advisory committee at California State-Stanislaus held a series of anti-bullying assemblies in the fall at four local elementary schools.

School: Johnson C. Smith University

Conference: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Event: Purple Game of Honor. Johnson C. Smith senior volleyball player Gracyn Doctor and her younger sisters lost their mother, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, during the tragic shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. To promote non-violence and pay tribute to the victims, Johnson C. Smith held a Purple Game of Honor during a home match Oct. 1 versus Johnson & Wales University, where Gracyn’s sister, Kaylin, is a freshman volleyball player. All attendees were asked to wear purple.

School: University of Mount Olive

Conference: Conference Carolinas

Event: Meet the Coaches. Members of the university campus and the local community were given the opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet reception and a courtside dinner with the Trojan coaching staffs.

School: St. Thomas Aquinas College

Conference: East Coast Conference

Event: Touching Bases, Touching Lives. The St. Thomas Aquinas baseball team partnered with the Rockland County chapter of Touching Bases to teach community members with disabilities the fundamentals of baseball.

School: Arkansas Tech University

Conference: Great American Conference

Event: Fight On Against Childhood Hunger. The Arkansas Tech athletics department partnered with the River Valley Food 4 Kids for the Fight On Against Childhood Hunger Initiative. The “Fight On” campaign helps to provide food and backpacks to local children outside of free or reduced lunch school programs.

School: Wayne State University

Conference: Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Event: W-Day/Week. Each year, the Wayne State athletics department puts on a week of events to celebrate women and the remarkable strides and accomplishments they have made within athletics.

School: University of Indianapolis

Conference: Great Lakes Valley Conference

Event: Rory and Braden’s Night. Rory and Braden’s Night was a collaborative effort between the UIndy men’s and women’s soccer teams to honor the Team IMPACT child on both of their rosters. Both young Greyhounds started for their respective teams and kicked off the match, with the help and understanding from the opposing team, the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Conference: Great Midwest Athletic Conference

Event: Conference SAAC Leadership Summit. The Great Midwest Athletic Conference conducted a student-athlete advisory committee leadership summit in Louisville on May 18-19. Student-athletes from each of the conference’s eight member institutions attended the event, which included professional development, resume-building seminars, networking education, community service and community engagement.

School: Central Washington University

Conference: Great Northwest Athletic Conference

Event: Avory Night. Central Washington athletics and Lincoln Elementary School joined forces to sponsor a local child in medical need. The event provided financial and emotional support for the child, Avory, and empowered the students to help through charitable service in their communities.

School: Lee University

Conference: Gulf South Conference

Event: Volley for a Cure: Real Heroes Wear Pink. The Lee women’s volleyball program partnered with the MaryEllen Locher Foundation, a local charity, to generate awareness about breast cancer and raise funds to support local families. This year’s event raised more than $20,000 and included a survivors luncheon, a pre-game Pink Party, a silent auction, a conference volleyball game and the awarding of the Volley for a Cure scholarship.

School: University of Arkansas, Fort Smith

Conference: Heartland Conference

Event: Toy Toss. Fans were asked to bring a new soft toy to a game, and when the Lions scored their first point, fans tossed the toys onto the court in celebration. The toys were collected from the court by members of local Boy Scout troops and delivered to the Salvation Army, which distributed the toys to children of needy families for Christmas.

School: Palm Beach Atlantic University

Conference: Independent

Event: Annual Trunk or Treat. On Oct. 30, the school’s student-athlete advisory committee hosted its annual Trunk-or-Treat event, which provides children in the community a safe place to play carnival games, enjoy snacks and trick-or-treat.

School: Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Conference: Lone Star Conference

Event: Legends at Kingsville Community Appreciation Day. Nearly 200 Boy Scouts and their chaperones took part in pregame activities, attended a football game free of charge and later “camped out” while watching a movie on the stadium’s video board. The event also served as the public launch of Wheels to Go, an initiative serving elderly and disabled fans by providing wheelchairs and student volunteer wheelchair attendants at every gate to transport guests to their seats.

School: Notre Dame College (Ohio)

Conference: Mountain East Conference

Event: Falcon Excellence in Sport Yearly Awards (“The FESPYs”). This student-run awards ceremony highlights the accomplishments and involvement of Notre Dame (Ohio) athletics.

School: Missouri Western State University

Conference: Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association

Event: Blood marrow drive. Two Missouri Western State alumni have a daughter with leukemia who needs a bone marrow transplant. Missouri Western State student-athletes went through training in order to run a bone marrow drive in an attempt to help the girl and any others who need bone marrow.

Conference: Northeast-10 Conference

Event: Team IMPACT matches. The 15-member conference became the first in Division II to be fully matched with Team IMPACT, as at least one team from each member school has “signed” a Team IMPACT child to its roster.

Conference: Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference

Event: Mental health awareness videos. The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committees created short public service announcements on mental health awareness. Member schools also designated an event during the fall athletic season that focused on bringing mental health awareness to their campuses and communities.

School: Academy of Art University

Conference: Pacific West Conference

Event: National Coming Out Day. On Oct. 11, 2015, the Academy of Art athletics department celebrated National Coming Out Day at its women’s soccer match. The theme for the event was LGBT awareness and was executed through many different initiatives.

School: Augusta University

Conference: Peach Belt Conference

Event: Military Appreciation Day. For the Jaguar Military Appreciation Week event on campus, all nine colleges of the university engaged in military initiatives throughout homecoming week. This included the unveiling of a game-day Ring of Honor for Fort Gordon soldiers and a swearing-in ceremony for new recruits.

School: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Conference: Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference

Event: “Don’t Say.” This initiative educated the campus community and the public regarding inappropriate language directed toward various groups both in and out of the realm of sport. The campaign was modeled after a popular initiative undertaken by student-athletes at Duke University.

School: Metropolitan State University of Denver

Conference: Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference

Event: Third Annual TEAL Day. In honor of Aubree Maul, a former MSU Denver softball student-athlete who battled ovarian cancer, the school hosted TEAL Day on April 11. The event began as a supportive effort during Maul’s treatment in the first year and became a celebration of her return in the second year. Now in its third year, it serves to raise awareness among campus and community members.

School: Wingate University

Conference: South Atlantic Conference

Event: Make-A-Wish Day. The Wingate University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosted Make-A-Wish Day in conjunction with the Bulldogs’ home football game Oct. 31. The Wingate SAAC granted a wish to a Forest Hills High School senior as part of a halftime celebration.

School: Central State University

Conference: Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

Event: Bringing Awareness to ALS: #TeamTrona. The main events included an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, an ALS charity basketball game, a Walk to Defeat ALS held in Fairborn, Ohio, and an online ALS fundraiser event.