March 11, 2014
Contact: Tyler Price, Baker University assistant director of athletics/communications, (785) 594-8495 or
Baker senior named Dr. Leroy Walker Character Award Winner
Kansas City, Mo. – Katie Thurbon, a track and field student-athlete at Baker University, has been named the 2013 Dr. LeRoy Walker Character Award winner, the national NAIA office announced Tuesday.
Created in honor of Dr. LeRoy Walker, former NAIA president and president emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee, this award annually recognizes a junior or senior student-athlete who has embraced the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program and demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, campus and community leadership, athletic achievement and future ambition.
Thurbon, a senior from Topeka, Kan., will be formally recognized at the 73rd Annual NAIA Convention Awards Luncheon on Saturday, April 12, in Kansas City, Mo. A seven-time Heart of America Athletic Conference champion and seven-time national qualifier in the pole vault, Thurbon has certainly achieved athletic success at Baker.
She has finished as the national runner-up twice at the NAIA Outdoor national championships and has earned NAIA All-America honors on four occasions.
But, as Baker Professor of Economics Alan Grant states, "Katie is a scholar-athlete, but it is clear that she is a scholar first."
She has accumulated a 3.95 grade-point average while double majoring in international studies and economics with a minor in Spanish.
"Katie's deep involvement in academics and athletics, and her ability to achieve balance in her life is clear evidence that she understands the importance of developing her whole person — that her academic growth is fueled by her physical development, and her physical development is fueled by her intellectual growth," Grant said. "Intercollegiate athletics has been a wonderful vehicle to overall success for Kate, and I can testify that she is a better student in my classroom because of the things she learns in athletics — discipline, and teamwork, and most of all, how to manage success with humility."
Thurbon's success both on the track and in the classroom has enabled her to earn three NAIA Scholar-Athlete Awards and to be named a CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American in 2013.
Thurbon has served on the Baker student senate, including a term as student government executive president, and has also written for the student newspaper, The Baker Orange. She has played both a "vital" and "inspirational" role on the Baker campus, according to Baker track and field coach Zach Kindler.
Thurbon has spoken at numerous elementary schools about the true definition of a student-athlete and the importance of this distinction.
"I am very honored to be selected as the 2014 Dr. Leroy Walker Award Winner because this award encompasses more than just academic and athletic results," said Thurbon. "While good grades and high rankings are certainly something to strive for, I have found that involvement in things outside of the usual student-athlete responsibilities, and your attitude throughout it all, is what makes a college experience special. I have been extremely lucky to have had ample opportunities at Baker University to demonstrate this and am very grateful that the Dr. Leroy Walker Award recognizes it."
-NAIA Sports Information contributed to this release
Baker University is committed to assuring student learning, and developing confident, competent and responsible contributors to society.