Awards by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association to the outstanding
senior athletes from its member schools during the 2008-09 academic year have been announced by Commissioner David Neilson.
Nora Kuiper of Hope College has been presented the Sheila Wallace Kovalchik Scholar-Athlete Award and Jed Christiansen of Calvin College has received the Albert H. Deal Scholar-Athlete Award.
"Jed and Nora have had marvelous careers these last four years in the classroom, on the track, and as role models in our conference. They will be missed, but their selection for these awards from such an exceptional group of nominees is an achievement for which they should take great pride," Commissioner Neilson said.
The awards recognize senior class athletes who have excelled in academics and athletics, as well as displayed outstanding leadership qualities. The awards honor two former MIAA commissioners, Albert Deal (1971-91) and Sheila Wallace Kovalchik (1991-2002).
A graduate of Parchment High School, Kuiper earned All-MIAA honors in track and field all four years at Hope. She was an eight-time MIAA champion, winning the 100-meter dash all four years for the Flying Dutch. She also won the 200 meters in 2008 and 2009, and was part of Hope's winning 4x100-meter relay teams in 2008 and 2009. She set the MIAA record in the 100 meters in 2008 with a time of 12.13 seconds, then broke that mark in 2009 with a time of 12.10 seconds.
Kuiper was named the MIAA's most valuable runner in 2009, and was also named the recipient of the Jack Schouten Award, given to Hope's outstanding senior female student-athlete, in 2009.
She earned All-American honors three times during her career. She finished fifth in the 100 meters at the NCAA Division III national meet in 2008, then won the 100 meters in 2009 with a time of 11.84 seconds, the best time in the nation on the season. In the process, she became the first Hope female track athlete in school history to win a national championship. Kuiper also finished second in the 200 meters in 2009.
A chemistry major, Kuiper graduated from Hope in May with a grade point average of 3.93. She received numerous academic honors, including Phi Beta Kappa recognition and being named general chemistry student of the year and recipient of the Kleinheksel Award in Mathematics at Hope. She was named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll four consecutive years, and also was named to the U.S. Track Coaches Association All-Academic Team.
Kuiper was a teaching assistant in Hope's chemistry department for three years, served on Hope's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for two years and was a member of Omnicron Delta Kappa, a leadership society. She also gave a presentation at an American Chemistry Society conference on utilizing fluorescent spectroscopy in DNA protein-building.
In addition, Kuiper was a group Bible study leader, tutored at-risk elementary students in Hope's Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and participated in a mission trip to Mozambique. She plans to spend a year in Mozambique working on a project to improve water supplies.
Nora Kuiper is the daughter of Scott and Ann Kuiper.
Other nominees for the Kovalchik Award were Krissy Sheets of Adrian, Dorinda Williams of Albion, Erica Deur of Calvin, Katie Stefl of Kalamazoo, Lindsay Pipkin of Olivet, Caitlin Brodmerkel of Saint Mary's and Sallie Richardson of Trine.