Jamal Garner and Kirsten Webster Honored with NEAC Inspirational Awards

Jamal Garner and Kirsten Webster Honored with NEAC Inspirational Awards

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Gallaudet University’s Jamal Garner and Lancaster Bible’s Kirsten Webster have been named the final two recipients of the 2017-18 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Inspirational Award.

Each year, the NEAC honors student-athletes within the conference that have endured personal hardships leading to bravery or dedication in athletics through participation, volunteerism, coaching or administration. Each member institution submits worthy nominees in good academic standing, with the recipients selected by the NEAC Executive Committee.

A center on the Gallaudet University men’s basketball team, Garner spent much of his first two years on the team seeing few minutes on the court. Despite a lack of playing time, the Jacksonville, Ill. native remained committed, continued to work hard and supported his teammates. During the 2017-18 season, Garner’s dedication paid off as he started all 26 games for the Bison and finished the season with 115 points, 137 rebounds, 21 steals and seven blocks. In addition to his involvement with the men’s basketball team, Garner participated in one season of football and two seasons of track and field.

Garner is a business major and has worked extremely hard to maintain his 3.27 cumulative GPA, proving high school teachers wrong that questioned his ability to attend college. He has also made in impact in the communities around him as he has initiated fraternities at Gallaudet and has worked at a camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children during the summer. Garner’s leadership has been a constant during his time at Gallaudet as he has also worked with campus security and for the tutoring center.

“Jamal takes everything seriously and believes in the integrity of everything that we do,” said Kevin Kovacs, Gallaudet University Head Men’s Basketball Coach. “He faithfully does everything we ask to the best of his ability without making any excuses. He is definitely a one-of-a-kind student-athlete who has continued to defy the odds and yet still be one of the best in everything he does. Jamal is an exemplary student-athlete that every coach wishes to have.”

Webster, a member of the Lancaster Bible women’s basketball team, was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2007. After a year of antibiotics and treatment, she began to feel better and believed to have the disease under control. Unfortunately, the disease resurfaced in 2013 and caused Webster to withdraw from Lancaster Bible in 2014.

The guard from Mount Airy, Md. played through the effects of the disease during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 basketball seasons, helping the Chargers to a pair of 20-win seasons. Webster, who gave up playing soccer for the Chargers after the 2015 season, continued to be impacted by Lyme disease on an almost daily basis. Upon her return to Lancaster Bible for her senior season in 2017, Webster was named a team captain. She went on to enjoy her best collegiate season, guiding the Chargers to the NEAC South Division title for the sixth-straight season and was named to the NEAC All-Conference First Team. Webster averaged 17.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per games and ranked third in Division III with 165 free throws made. She also became the 12th player in program history to score 1,000 points, which was a feat that did not seem possible in 2013.

“The word I think of when I think of Kirsten Webster is warrior,” shared Katelyn Vanderhoff, Lancaster Bible Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “All of the things she had to go through and you never heard her say a word. She just kept fighting and is a really special person. To have to go through treatments and work so hard to be healthy while being one of the best players in the NEAC night-after-night last season was amazing to watch.”

Garner and Webster join Tyler Andrews of Keuka College and Cody Gaines of Morrisville State College as the four honorees to receive a NEAC Inspirational Award for the 2017-18 academic year.

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has 12 NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Wells College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (W Lacrosse), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse), Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf), and Wilson College (M Volleyball). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sport of men’s tennis and with the Colonial State Athletic Conference in the sport of Field Hockey. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.