The Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) celebrated its 2019-2020 award winners this afternoon during the 2020 IWLCA Convention and Coaches Clinic powered by JustPlay. The IWLCA recognized the winners of the Service Award, President’s Cup, and the previously announced Community Awareness Award during their virtual convention.
"Despite not being able to gather in person this year, the IWLCA Convention has been a much-needed opportunity for us to come together as a community and celebrate our membership and their achievements," said Liz Grote, IWLCA President and head coach at Bowdoin College. "Although the shortened 2020 season impacted our ability to acknowledge on-field successes, so many people within the lacrosse community accomplished great things off the field. It seems very fitting to salute those efforts, especially this year, which challenged each of us in multiple ways.”
The Team Community Awareness Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions by one team from each division on their campus and in their local community was presented to the University of Michigan (Division I), Post University (Division II), Alma College (Division III), and St. Ambrose University (NAIA).
The individual Community Awareness Award recognizes those student-athletes who have contributed significantly to their community in a given academic year. These students have given their time and energy to support and develop athlete-community relations and have distinguished themselves from their peers. Halle Duenkel of James Madison University, Claire Swanson of the University of Tampa, and Carli Hopkin of Washington & Jefferson College are the 2020 IWLCA Community Awareness Award Winners.
Kelly Gallagher, head coach at the University of Tampa, was presented with the IWLCA Service Award for her contributions to the IWLCA and its membership during the previous academic year. Gallagher has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2018, serving as a Division II representative before being elected as the IWLCA Secretary in June. She works closely with the Annual Meeting Planning Committee to manage the IWLCA Convention, which moved to a new venue in 2019. Megan Smith, assistant coach at Lee University, praised Gallagher’s leadership, stating, “Kelly’s expert guidance was invaluable to our committee last year and her ability to keep us on task and ensure we followed through on all the details made last year's Convention one of the most successful ever.”
According to Gallagher, "I have always tried to say 'yes,' when opportunities to serve were offered to me, and volunteering with the IWLCA, in service of my peers, has been incredibly rewarding. I am honored that my service has been recognized, and I'd like to thank those that have served with me, both on the Annual Meeting Planning Committee, past and present, and on the Board of Directors and staff. It has been wonderful to work with you all and I highly encourage everyone to say 'yes' when asked."
The President’s Cup Award is presented to a member of the lacrosse community who has exhibited distinguished contributions to the collegiate women’s lacrosse scene during the previous academic year. The IWLCA has selected Tomika Ferguson, Ph.D. as the 2019-20 recipient for her efforts to educate IWLCA members toward inclusive, diverse, equitable, and antiracist leadership practices. Ferguson is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University and is currently serving as the Interim Assistant Dean, Student Affairs & Inclusive Excellence
Meg Decker, head coach at the University of Hartford lauded Ferguson’s work with the IWLCA. “Dr. Ferguson has impacted the IWLCA in numerous ways over the past year, from delivering professional development sessions at our Convention, to sharing information and resources with the membership after George Floyd was murdered, to helping us learn and heal in the aftermath through her Racism, Allyship, and Accountability webinar. Tomika is an invaluable resource and continues to help guide the IWLCA and its members as we strive to become more inclusive and equitable.”
In her acceptance of the award, Ferguson noted, “I am not only humbled, but I am affirmed by this recognition.” She continued, “I am passionate about equity and inclusion and antiracist athletic environments. As an outsider to this sport, I have felt welcomed with each conversation and training that I have been privileged to lead. You all have demonstrated a desire to move beyond the stereotypes and barriers that have negatively impacted women’s lacrosse and to demonstrate nationally how inclusion is embedded in the fabric of this sport.” Ferguson closed by admitting that, “To end a year that has been filled with so many crises, with an award that recognizes my passion and commitment to encouraging, motivating, and educating others. I cannot express my gratitude and appreciation to IWLCA enough, so thank you.”