Several Student-Athletes Receive University Skookum Award of Excellence

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Six Golden Bears student-athletes were honored with the Western New England University Alumni Association Skookum Award of Excellence during a ceremony last Sunday at Rivers Memorial Hall. Maria Francese (softball), Anne Mercer (martial arts), Kevin Parma (men's soccer), Alana Regan (women's cross country), Matt Sherry (men's cross country) and Tyler Unwin (men's tennis) were among 15 Western New England students who earned the award.

The Skookum Award of Excellence was established in 1989 by the University Alumni Association as a way to recognize students' outstanding achievements. The Skookum Award recognizes the commitment and dedicated service of WNE students throughout their college career by their demonstrated leadership roles on campus, community service/volunteer experiences, and participation in co-curricular activities. The word Skookum means excellence in the Chinook Indian culture. This annual award process takes place each spring semester to prepare for the Skookum Awards dinner the following fall.

"As the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative, I am just so proud of our student-athlete Skookum award winners. In this day and age when the headlines are filled with stories about self-absorbed and singularly focused college athletes who treat academics as an afterthought, these special young men and women serve as a reminder of everything that is good about intercollegiate sports," said Sharianne Walker, Department of Sport Management chair. "Their myriad achievements in the classroom, on campus and in the community are just remarkable and inspiring. For me personally, to see the number of student-athletes in this year's 2013-14 Skookum class and hear their stories reaffirms that the lessons taught through sport - commitment, leadership, perseverance, hard work and service - are powerful and transformative.

This special group of student athletes - Maria, Anne, Kevin, Alana, Matthew and Tyler - are truly amazing young people who embody what Division III athletics, our University and our athletic program are all about.