Shippensburg program named finalist for NCAA Division II Award of Excellence


SHIPPENSBURG – Shippensburg University has been selected as one of 22 finalists for the 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Award of Excellence. The announcement was made recently by the association.

Shippensburg University was recognized for its Raiders Leadership, Emergence, and Development (Raiders L.E.A.D) program. The program was co-founded by Trejon Dinkins, Director of the Kathryn Hughes Seaber Raiders Academic Center for Student-Athletes, and Dennis Kerstetter, Director of Sports Performance. Its current president is Treasure George, women’s basketball student-athlete.

Developed in 2021, Raiders L.E.A.D is designed to provide student-athletes with an opportunity to be actively invested in personal and professional development outside of their academic and athletic ventures.

Raiders L.E.A.D. seeks to foster growth of core leadership competencies through its curriculum, which includes guest speakers and leadership seminars. It is a two-year program designed to help student-athletes and student officers grow and develop into a new cohort of leaders.

Its mission reads: “The mission of The Raiders Leadership, Emergence, and Development Program for student-athletes within the Shippensburg University Athletics Department is to provide quality lifelong leadership experiences for student-athletes through a structured skill development program.”

Shippensburg is the official winner of the Division II Award of Excellence for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), resulting in its status as a national finalist.

Per the NCAA, its NCAA Division II Award of Excellence recognizes an undertaking that exemplifies “the Division II philosophy, identity, community engagement and student-athlete leadership initiatives.” The 22 finalists were specifically cited “for their creativity in advancing relationships within their communities.”

This marks the second consecutive year that Shippensburg has been a finalist for the NCAA Division II Award of Excellence. Last year, ONESHIP was chosen as an at-large honoree for the award (Bloomsburg’s “Protect Our Pack” initiative was the official entry from the PSAC).

It marks the seventh time in the last 14 years that the NCAA has selected Shippensburg as a national finalist for excellence through leadership or community engagement. In addition to last year’s honor, SU was selected as a Division II Award of Excellence finalist in 2016 (SAAC’s Don’t Say campaign) and 2015 (SAAC’s Special Olympics “Fun Meet” series). Shippensburg was also recognized as a finalist by the NCAA for its Community Engagement Award of Excellence in 2011 (MentorSHIP and Kid’s Night Out), 2010 (Special Olympics “Fun Swim” Meet) and 2009 (“Jam the Gym”).

The winner, runner-up and third-place honoree for the 2023 Division II Award of Excellence will be announced Friday (Jan. 14) during the Division II business session at the 2023 NCAA Convention.

As a finalist, Shippensburg will receive $500. In addition, the winner will receive $2,500, the first runner-up will receive $1,250 and the second runner-up will receive $1,000. All prize money is intended to be used for future SAAC initiatives or community engagement events.

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