Valparaiso University awarded 99 student-athletes with Presidential Academic Honors while also handing out the Laurel Award at the 20th Annual Academic Honors Banquet for Student-Athletes held on Sunday evening in the Harre Union.
Presidential Academic Honors are awarded to student-athletes who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.25-or-higher after at least three semesters at Valpo.
Chris Bednarczyk (Westfield, Ind./Westfield H.S.), a member of the cross country and track and field teams, was presented with the annual Laurel Award, honoring the graduating senior student-athlete who achieved the highest cumulative grade point average. Bednarczyk is a meteorology major.
Bednarczyk was one of two individuals to earn the Finishing at the Top honors, given to graduating seniors with a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 or higher. Joining Bednarczyk in receiving the honor was baseball player Steve Godawa (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.). A pitcher, Godawa is an accounting major.
In addition, a pair of senior student-athletes annually speaks on their experiences throughout their Crusader careers. This year men’s soccer player Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic H.S.) and volleyball player Katie Layman (LaPorte, Ind./New Prairie H.S.) had the honor of addressing the nearly 200 student-athletes, families, administration members, and professors that were in attendance.
Valparaiso University alum Joyce Weiblen was the keynote speaker for the evening. Weiblen officiated in the first AIAW national basketball tournament, co-chaired the program committed of the first joint conference held for the National Association for Physical Education of College Women and the National Collegiate Physical Education Association for Men, became one of the first women to be a voting delegate to the NCAA Conventions in the 1970s, and was elected as the first woman president for an NCAA conference, earning the honor in the Dixie Conference. She also served as the athletic director at Averett College and Mercer University.