Nov. 14, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Since 1994, the University of Missouri Department of Athletics has recognized a special group of student-athletes who have gone above and beyond the typical call of duty. To be a part of this select group, these student-athletes must show exceptional dedication and effort for their respective sport, but also consistent hard work in the classroom and in the community.
Each year, the prestigious Athletics Director Leadership Award honors Mizzou's top student-athletes for, "outstanding scholarship, community service, leadership and ethics." With only one selection per year, these individuals are exemplary representatives of MU student-athletes.
Each year, members of the athletics department meet with candidates for the leadership award, which involves an in-depth interview and selection process. The winner not only is recognized by their peers and in the community, but they also receive a $5,000 postgraduate scholarship at the University of Missouri.
Earlier this month, past winners of the award were able to meet and be recognized for their outstanding achievement. During the Mizzou-Tennessee football game at Faurot Field on Nov. 2, many of the past winners were recognized in front of a sellout crowd.
"It was exciting to have the opportunity to recognize our past winners of the Mizzou Athletic Director Leadership Award recently," said Mizzou Director of Athletics, Mike Alden. "We are so proud of these young men and women who continue to be excellent representatives of Mizzou!"
Among the many award members who were able to make their return to Columbia that night at Faurot Field, included Nicki Moore and Neville Miller.
In 1994, Moore was the first ever recipient of the prestigious leadership award, after excelling for the women's track and field team. Moore continued her personal success after her time at Mizzou, as she is now the senior associate athletics director at the University of Oklahoma.
With the leadership award entering its 20th year of existence, Moore is fully aware of the historical meaning of being named the first ever recipient.
"It was, and is still an honor," said Moore. "It makes me feel grateful for all those individuals who helped shape me into the kind of person who might be considered for such an honor. I was so privileged to have incredible parents, inspiring coaches, supportive friends, accepting teammates, and challenging teachers."
With a cheering sellout crowd at Faurot Field behind her, and her fellow award members by her side, Moore knew how special the moment truly was that night in Columbia.
"To have that spotlight on us and to be with such a truly great group of people, it was really an indescribable moment," said Moore. "I was able to pull out my best black and gold attire, and wear it proudly!"
"It was the blessing of a lifetime to represent Mizzou as a student-athlete many years ago, and for that moment, I just soaked in the atmosphere that Mike Alden and his staff were able to give us."
Now a local meteorologist for the ABC 17 Stormtrack weather team in Columbia, Miller has continued his impact within the Mizzou community. As the 2004 leadership award recipient, Miller also shared many of the emotions that Moore felt that night in Columbia.
"I am very thankful and humbled to have received the award," said Miller. "There are a lot of great student-athletes at Mizzou, so I was very appreciative to be recognized out of such a large group."
Throughout the years, many Mizzou football fans have noticed individuals being recognized on the field for their various honors and efforts within the community. For Miller, he never imagined that one day he would have the opportunity to be honored at Faurot Field.
"It was very exciting to be on the field in-front of that crowd," said Miller. "It meant even more that they mentioned us each by name, and that my wife was able to be there with me. It was definitely a moment that I will never forget."
For the 19 individuals who have been honored so far for the Athletics Director Leadership Award, they know that they will forever be included in one of the more prestigious groups in the history of Mizzou Athletics. Thanks to their hard work both on-and-off the field, their legacy will continue to live on at Mizzou.
Historical Athletic Director Leadership Award Winners:
1994 - Nicki Moore - Track and Field
1995 - DeMontie Cross - Football
1996 - Chip Walther - Men's Basketball
1997 - Mike Harp - Wrestling
1998 - Amy Monsees - Women's Basketball
1999 - Brian Grawer - Men's Basketball
2000 - Ashley Wysong - Track and Field
2001 - Anne Marie Brooks - Track and Field
2002 - Marcus James - Football
2003 - Evan Unrau - Women's Basketball
2004 - Neville Miller - Track and Field
2005 - Amanda Bales - Track and Field
2006 - Ben Askren - Wrestling
2007 - Chase Patton - Football
2008 - Michelle Collins - Soccer
2009 - Sarah Shire - Gymnastics
2010 - Jordan Hawley - Swimming and Diving
2011 - Lawrence Bowers - Men's Basketball
2012 - Kate Gallagher - Women's Golf