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Heartland softball player receives high honor from NJCAA

July 18, 2016

Cassie KuizinEach year, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) recognizes three players for their achievements on the field, in the classroom and their community. This year, HCC softball player Cassie Kuizin was awarded the Lea Plarski Award, one of the highest honors from the NJCAA.

Created in 1995, the award is presented annually to an NJCAA student-athlete who demonstrates sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence and athletic ability. 

Kuizin maintained a 4.0 throughout her two years at Heartland and was named Academic All-American both her freshman and sophomore years. Outside of school and softball, she is actively involved with SOAR, a Special Olympics organization that supports individuals with disabilities by organizing and overseeing recreational activities. Kuizin also completed an internship with Crisis Nursery in Bloomington, volunteered with PATH crisis center and worked with several middle school softball teams throughout the area.

Not only does Kuizin demonstrate kindness to her community, it also shows on the field. You can find her congratulating everyone on a good play, including the opposing team. “To me, sportsmanship is treating every player with respect,“ she commented. “It’s also about playing fair, being gracious when you lose and humble when you win.”

Head Hawks softball coach Steve Leverton said he can’t think of a more deserving student than Kuizin for the Lea Plarski Award. “Cassie is what all coaches want their athletes to be. She puts others’ needs in front of her own while managing to be a star student and play at the highest level possible. It’s been an honor to coach Cassie.”

“I just want to say I am extremely thankful to have been selected for this award,” said Kuizin. “I know I could not have accomplished anything without my family, coaches, teammates and above all, God. I am honored to be chosen for the Lea Plarski Award and thankful to the NJCAA and Heartland Community College for a memorable and enjoyable two years of softball.”

Kuizin now heads to Taylor University in Upland, IN to continue her collegiate softball career and pursue a degree in counseling and clinical psychology. Eventually, she hopes to earn a master’s degree and work as a sports psychologist for a college or professional athletic team.

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Written by: Becky Gropp