KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Heart of America Athletic Conference has selected its nominees for a number of national awards, which were announced at the Third Annual Heart Summit. Each nominee represents the conference for national awards that will be announced in September by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
The awards that are represented are the A.O. Duer Award, the Emil Liston Award, the Dr. Leroy Walker Champions of Character Award, Coach of Character Award, Athletic Director of the Year, Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award, and Sports Information Director of the Year Award.
The Duer award is named in honor of the NAIA's former executive secretary for 26 years and recognizes one junior student-athlete in any sport for each gender based on their scholarship, character and citizenship.
The Liston Award is named in honor of the NAIA's first executive secretary, this award has been presented annually since 1950 to one junior men's and women's basketball player who has shown high athletic and scholastic achievement.
The Walker award recognizes one student-athlete who excels academically, athletically and embraces the core values of Champions of Character.
The nominees for the Duer Award are Camryn Kuehl, a softball player from Graceland, and Gunnar Orcutt, a football player from Peru State. Kuehl is a shortstop from Kansas City, Mo., having completed two seasons with the Yellowjackets. She has a .270 career batting average in 63 games with 10 doubles, 16 runs scored and 21 RBI. Named to the Graceland President's List, she has volunteered with the Police Athletic League of Kansas City, the Raytown Emergency Assistance Program, and Soldier's Angels.
A senior linebacker from Omaha, Neb., Orcutt has played in 26 games over three seasons for the Bobcats and recorded 110 total tackles (33 solo). He has tallied 4.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups and one interception. An Alphi Phi and Beta Beta Beta Scholar, Orcutt is also a Board of Trustee scholar and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, and a number of service projects in the city of Peru.
The Liston Award will be represented by Tristin Wicks, a basketball player from MidAmerica Nazarene, and Jeremy Deemer, a basketball player at Graceland. A senior forward from Marysville, Kan., Wicks is a three-time all-conference performer that included Second Team recognition in 2016-17. Through three seasons with the Pioneers, she has amassed 1,005 points, 632 rebounds and 118 blocked shots. Wicks is also a member of Delta Mu Delta, a national honor program for business majors, and developed an interactive seminar related to personal, emotional and spiritual growth.
Deemer adds another award to a growing list of accolades that includes NAIA All-America honorable mention recognition, the NABC Honors Court and CoSIDA Academic All-America. A senior center from Lamoni, Iowa, Deemer has tallied 812 points, 517 rebounds and a .641 field goal percentage in three collegiate seasons. Away from the court, Deemer is a member of the Communications Club, an Executive Board Member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as the head of social media, and a member of Enactus, a community unity team.
The Walker Award will also be represented by Deemer, who was a First Team All-Heart selection in 2016-17 after averaging 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and shooting 67.7 percent from the field.
Grand View Director of Athletics Troy Plummer was selected the Athletic Director of the Year by his peers. Plummer joined the Grand View staff in 1995 and will be entering his 10th year as Director of Athletics in 2017-18. Under his leadership, Grand View captured a pair of NAIA National Championships last season (Wrestling, Men's Golf), while also spearheading efforts to host the NAIA Wrestling National Championship and NAIA Men's Volleyball National Invitational in 2018. He has also served on the NAIA Athletic Director's Association Board of Directors, the NAIA Task Force for Emerging Sports, and the Men's Volleyball committee.
Honored among the athletic trainers was the staff from Benedictine, led by head athletic trainer Patrick Hodapp. In charge of more than 450 student-athletes at Benedictine, Hodapp is also a clinical and academic instructor in the Athletic Training Education Program.
The final award is the David Fillmore Sports Information Director of the Year, which was awarded to Tyler Price, assistant director of athletics - communications at Baker. A member of the Wildcats staff since 2012, Price was honored by his peers in the award named after the first-ever Evangel sports information director and Heart Sports Information Director from 1988-2003. Price is a member of CoSIDA and serves as the NAIA-SIDA second vice president through 2019.