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John Moore introduced sophomore basketball player Stefan Inouye, a kinesiology major with a GPA of 3.86, as a “Westmont student ambassador.” Indeed, Stefan has shared with new recruits that at Westmont “profs will make sure you know you matter.” According to Coach Moore, Stefan is “gracious and disciplined, generous and determined.” John noted that his athlete was an example of perseverance, citing an Asian proverb: “If you fall down seven times, you stand up eight.” In his remarks, Stefan paid tribute to his grandfather, an immigrant, who would tell him that “you get out of life who you are.”

Art major Ciena Colburn, who has a 3.81 GPA, received the honor for volleyball. Both Ciena and her coach Patti Cook reflected on the serious injury that she suffered in her first year, which required nearly a full year of rehabilitation before she could jump again. By “pushing through the pain,” Ciena eventually returned to become a starter, finishing second in the GSAC this year in blocks. “God taught me humility and gratitude,” Ciena noted. Just “being immobile for a few months” helped her understand why it was important to encourage others with injuries and disabilities.

Coach Smelley introduced track and field star Elysia Hodges Mitchell as the “most accomplished female athlete in Westmont history.” A two-time national champion in the 600 meters, Elysia has already earned All-American status on ten separate occasions, holds school records in nearly a dozen events, and carries a 3.69 GPA as a kinesiology major. Russell also complimented her for being a “faithful team member” and observed: “Her best work is her heart work.” He recounted one occasion when she surrendered her own opportunity to gain All-American status on a relay in order to give a teammate a chance at that honor. In her remarks, Elysia described how she has overcome a former sense of “brokenness” and learned at Westmont to run “for the love of sport.”

This year’s Golden Eagle in baseball is Russell Harmening, a junior mathematics major with a 3.77 GPA. When recruiting him, Robert Ruiz thought his high school statistics sounded like results “from a video game, something like 85 strikeouts in 45 innings.” But Russell has exceeded expectations, and now as a junior already has the all-time wins record for Westmont. “It has been special to watch Russell’s development as a leader,” Rob stated. He is “Christ-centered” and ”models his faith” to his teammates. He offers no excuses and is distinguished by “integrity and hard work.” As a result, Coach Ruiz announced his intention to keep recruiting math majors.

Christian Hatchett was recognized as the Golden Eagle recipient in men’s track and field. A political science major with a 3.49 GPA, Christian has been to nationals in the 400 meters and is a member of the 4 x 400 relay team that holds the school record. Coach Smelley acknowledged Hatchett’s reflective spirit and claimed that he was, “best of all, a gentleman.” In accepting the award, Christian thanked his “coaches, professors, Netflix and Wheaties,” and then paid heartfelt tribute to two parents who have overcome cancer and taught him to “never give up.”

Joshua Barnard, with a 3.55 GPA as a kinesiology major, was selected to represent the men’s tennis team. Mark Basham said that coaching Josh was “one of my highlights during my six years” as the head tennis coach. Josh, he said, “has an unwavering desire to inspire and encourage others around him”; he has “an innate ability to know when to push his teammates and when to be gentle with them.” An NAIA award winner in doubles, Josh is a student leader with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

As a club basketball player during high school, Karlie Storkson, now a junior religious studies major, caught Coach Kirsten Moore’s eye—and her ear. “You hear her vibrant voice before you see her,” Kirsten quipped. Of course, you can also see her neon socks. She was, her coach said, “a light in the midst of gray,” a “flash of energy,” and has been a “contagious light” as the team’s spiritual leader. In addition to playing “smothering, pesky defense” on the court, she is also an accomplished track athlete and is carrying a 3.63 GPA. Karlie thanked her grandparents for her “faith legacy” and said that she has learned that “I am not alone” with “God and the Westmont community by my side.”

Men’s soccer coach Dave Wolf said his Golden Eagle selection Daniel Johnsen was “not a cliché, but an original,” a “classic,” and a “man of clarity, depth and authenticity.” A senior biology major with a 3.75 GPA, Daniel remarked on how he has come to see that “soccer aptitude does not define who I am.” Soccer has taught him “how to deal with loss with grace” and “how to succeed with humility.” Coach Moore saluted “DJ” for “unparalleled growth” and “sheer enjoyment” of the game.

Christine Adams was this year’s recipient for women’s soccer. Former coach Kristy Kiely wrote that Christine was distinguished by “caring for the outliers” and “inspiring us into greatness.” A kinesiology major with a 3.80 GPA, Christine played in four NAIA national tournaments, was a constant starter, and was actively involved with Potter’s Clay. Assistant Coach Dan Ribbens said that she “embodies all we hope for at Westmont” and has “learned the art of being present,” able to “rejoice in everyone’s success.”

Lauren Stratman, the Golden Eagle recipient for women’s tennis, holds a 3.51 GPA as a junior kinesiology major. Her coach, Kendyll McManigal, calls her “fiercely competitive,” but someone who can “focus and have fun.” She joked about keeping Lauren on the courts longer as she was trying to beat her during practice. In her Westmont career, Lauren has lost to only one NAIA opponent, and has been a first-team All-American and the GSAC Player of the Year. Despite being one of the elite players in the nation, Lauren will “reach out to her teammates” and displays an “everyday commitment, heart, and faith.”

Evan Kramer, a junior economics and business major with a 3.50 GPA, was the recipient for men’s cross country. Russell described him as a “good thinker” and a “conscientious, caring individual” who has “chosen to become a better athlete.” As he accepted the award, Evan spoke of the challenge of not giving in to “complacency” or “Nachos,” and celebrated the runner’s “immense freedom of breathing fresh air.” He echoed his coach’s advice to “relax and go.”