Johnson County Community College
Kendyl McDougald receives Lea Plarski Award
Kendyl McDougald receives Lea Plarski Award
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Recognizing her achievements in the classroom and community, the NJCAA Executive Committee announced Johnson County Community College sophomore thrower Kendyl McDougald as the recipient of the 2014-15 Lea Plarski Award.
“I can’t begin to express how proud I am of Kendyl for winning this award,” said Johnson County throwing coach Phil Groves. “I always want to be able to say three things about our student-athletes here at JCCC – they are great students, outstanding athletes and even better people. I can’t think of any individual who better embodies those ideals.”
The NJCAA’s Lea Plarski Award is handed out annually since 1995 in the name of former NJCAA President Lea Plarski as recognition of her tremendous service to the NJCAA and two-year college athletics. The award is been presented to an NJCAA student-athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence, athletic ability and achievements – qualities that were the cornerstones of the Plarski “era”.
“This award not only represents Kendyl and her family but raises the bar for her teammates in the Cavalier family,” said Johnson County director of athletics Carl Heinrich. “She has set an example of how student-athletes can utilize time management and be successful. Very few have gone through our program that have done what she has done.”
Majoring in International and Environmental Studies, McDougald concluded her honors program in the spring of 2015 semester with a 3.81 grade-point average (GPA) in 80 credit hours of work. Honored by the NJCAA in June for her academic achievements, McDougald was one of just 741 student-athletes across the nation to receive the Superior Academic Achievement Award – the second-highest academic honor an individual can achieve in the association.
McDougald earned a place on the President’s Honor Roll in three of her six full-time semesters at Johnson County, posting a 4.0 GPA in each of those terms. The Olpe, Kansas, native also qualified for the Dean’s Honor Roll in the spring of 2013, leaving just one semester in her time at Johnson County in which she didn’t qualify for an academic honor roll.
When McDougald wasn’t practicing her throws or studying for exams, she still found time to contribute to the local community. Following her passion for the environment, McDougald volunteered with Bridging the Gap – a non-profit organization focusing on making the Kansas City region more sustainable. She also volunteered at Johnson County’s TREE JCCC event, planting trees throughout the campus. During the 2014-15 academic year, McDougald participated in a work study for the Johnson County Community College Center for Sustainability.
“The many volunteer activities that Kendyl participated in has taught her many life lessons that she will incorporate into her future endeavors as well as a network of people she has met that she will continue to be a part of,” Heinrich said. “Her greatest strength is when you are around her she has the ability to make you feel good about yourself. Not many people have the ability to do that.”
Another cause close to McDougald’s heart has been solving the hunger problem, both at home and abroad. Volunteering for the National Association of Letter Carriers, she took part in the Stamp Out Hunger campaign – America’s largest, one-day volunteer food drive. McDougald carried the cause overseas while studying abroad, serving food to the homeless in Xi’an, China.
“Coming from a small community, I have had the pleasure of serving alongside teammates, classmates and friends in various ways,” McDougald said. “During my second semester at JCCC, I participated in the Cavalier Leadership Development Program where Mark Johnson quoted Jackie Robinson, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.’ This resonated in me. I have been positively affected by individuals from varying departments here at JCCC and I have always enjoyed meeting, working and serving with new people.”
Earning recognition from her college for her campus and community involvement, volunteerism and scholastic achievement, McDougald received the Johnson County Community College Outstanding Student Award.
Despite the numerous accolades McDougald received off the field, she was just as exceptional on it. At the 2015 NJCAA Track & Field Championships, the sophomore claimed an individual title in the javelin throw – narrowly winning the event by four inches. She also earned indoor second-team All-East Jayhawk Conference in the shot put with a runner-up finish, and outdoors was the conference champion and region runner-up in the javelin, which earned her first-team All-EJC and second-team All-Region VI.
Although McDougald highlights this moment as a tremendous accomplishment in her lifetime, it is the recognition she has gained through her academic success and community involvement that she is most proud of.
“While earning that national championship was an amazing achievement in my athletic career,” she said, “the Lea Plarksi award goes one step further. To be recognized for more than athletics is a credit to the inspiring individuals I have had the opportunity to study, work, train and serve with here at the college and community.”
Groves echoed those sentiments. “While winning a national championship is the highest individual honor of our sport, I’m far more proud that she received an award that recognizes young people for being outstanding students and citizens,” he said. “After all, there will eventually come a day when Kendyl stops competing at the highest level but the integrity, sportsmanship, work ethic and social responsibility that she has developed while at JCCC will serve her throughout her life.”
That day is still down the road however, as McDougald is set to compete for MidAmerica Nazarene in the NAIA.
“I think Kendyl will be a strong competitor at the next level,” Groves said. “She has a much better understanding of the technical and training demands of throwing the javelin far. I have no doubt that she will have continued success.”
Before McDougald finishes out her collegiate career with the Pioneers however, she’ll spend the next academic year in Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals.
“This cultural immersion program provides the opportunity to study, work and live abroad in a country that is called, Europe’s Green Leader,” McDougald said. “My educational and career goals are in international and environmental education.”
Whatever lies ahead in McDougald’s future, her experiences and passion are proof that she will play a huge role in improving the world around her.
About the NJCAA Since 1938 the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has been the governing body of two-year college athletics, offering athletic and academic opportunities to college students. The NJCAA is the second largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states. Each year nearly 60,000 student-athletes compete in one of 28 different sports and the organization sponsors 48 national championship events and nine football bowl games. NJCAA Headquarters has been located in Colorado Springs, Colo., since 1985. For more information visit www.njcaa.org.