Central Washington Finalist For DII Award Of Excellence
CWU's held
CWU's held "Avory's Night" to recognize 12-year-old Avory Clarke and to promote the work of Sparrow Clubs USA.

Monday, January 4, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – Thanks to their work to honor a 12-year-old fan with chronic health ailments, Central Washington University is among 22 schools and three conference selected as finalists for the 2016 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence.

Central Washington was recognized for “Avory’s Night,” a joint effort between the CWU athletic department at Lincoln Elementary School in Ellensburg, Wash. The event honored 12-year-old Avory Clarke, a sixth grader at Ellensburg’s Kittitas Elementary, who was born premature and has struggled her entire life with chronic asthma and allergies. Avory’s ailments often result in missed school time and limit her ability to participate in extracurricular activities.

Avory was named an honorary coach for the Wildcats’ Thurs., Nov. 12 volleyball contest against Saint Martin’s and was fully involved in the team’s activities that evening, which included making the ceremonial first serve. In addition, an assembly to honor Avory and to raise awareness for the program’s partner organization, Sparrow Clubs USA, was held the previous Tuesday at Lincoln.

“A large portion of our student-athletes attend the assembly for support and to show other students that they help out the community too,” said Claire Cox, Central Washington’s external affairs and corporate sponsorship graduate assistant. “Many of the Lincoln students know Avory and her family, so the feeling of support from both the students and our CWU student-athletes meant a lot to her.”

Central Washington also used the match to promote Sparrow Clubs USA and to instill their motto of “Kids Helping Kids In Medical Need.”

“All of our CWU volleyball players decorated posters for Avory and hung them on the gym walls before the game,” Cox said. “The personal touch really excited her and her family.”

Finalists for the Division II Award of Excellence were selected for creating events or activities that exemplify any of the six Division II attributes: learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service. Each finalist school and conference will receive $500.

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

The Division II Award of Excellence seek to acknowledge activities associated with Division II partner Make-A-Wish, Team IMPACT, military appreciation, community engagement, game environment, student-athlete leadership development and educational programming.

Western Oregon was the GNAC finalist for the award in 2015 for creating an “Athletics Fan Fest” that connected fans and student-athletes through student-led activities.

Bellarmine University won the 2015 award for an effort the athletics department conducted that allowed a young cancer patient to experience a lifelong dream. Patrick McSweeney, a 15-year-old diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2004, suited up and started for the Bellarmine men’s basketball team when it took on Louisville in an exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center.