Courtesy of Cameron Weidenthaler, Wayne State Assistant Media Relations Director
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Wayne State University athletic department is one of 25 finalists for the 2016 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence, an accolade recognizing positive initiatives taken on in 2015. WSU is being honored for the second consecutive year.
The annual W Day/W Week, which is a week of events to celebrate women and the remarkable strides and accomplishments they have made within athletics, is the event being recognized. In April of 2015, WSU celebrated its sixth annual W Week, which featured a brunch in the Multipurpose Indoor Facility (MIF) where Angelique Chengelis, a longtime motorsports writer for The Detroit News, who became an analyst for ESPN's and ABC's coverage of NASCAR in 2007, was the keynote speaker. Her in-depth racing knowledge has led to numerous appearances as a panelist on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," "SportsCenter" and ESPNEWS over the years. She has also been a regular contributor to sports talk shows in Detroit.
"This is quite an honor to be recognized by the NCAA as one of the finalists for the prestigious association with the Award of Excellence," said Director of Athletics Rob Fournier. "There are so many initiatives throughout the country that honor service and outreach by student-athletes, that this identification is uniquely special. The coincidence of that acknowledgment is that the W Day/Week celebration has been our effort to distinguish the accomplishments and contributions of female student-athletes (and their predecessors who often were denied opportunities) and their positive influences on intercollegiate athletics. This will make that on-going celebration even more significant."
Additionally at the 2015 W Day Brunch, that year's class of "The Women Who Made A Difference" was recognized. The class consisted of Kelsey Chapman (Track & Field, 2013), Susan (Gierschick) Kopins (Swimming and Diving, 1983-87), Tanya Joseph (Tennis, 2010-13), Lauren (Kessler) Couls (Cross Country, 2007-10), Elizabeth (Klemme) Darga (Softball, 1983-84), Kristi (Pieper) Skladanowski (Volleyball, 2003-06), Stephanie Stone (Women's Basketball, 1977-81), and Shante Wilkerson (Fencing, 2010-14).
Other activities during W Week included a Movie Night at the Emagine Theater in Royal Oak, a Wellness Warrior Health Fair at the Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center, a Domestic Violence Awareness presentation and WSU student-athletes who recorded at least a 3.5 term grade-point average for the Fall 2014 semester being recognized at the 15th annual Student-Athlete Academic Recognition Luncheon. The week concluded with the Basic Needs Drive where over 40,000 items were collected and collated into 1,300 basic needs bags that were distributed at Cass Park.
Each finalist – one representing each Division II conference and an independent representative – will receive $500 for its event or activity that exemplifies any of the six Division II attributes: learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service. The winning events include initiatives benefiting Make-A-Wish, Team IMPACT, members of the military and other community groups.
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 seasons. 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.