ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – The U.S. Basketball
Writers Association has selected Dau Jok of the University
of Pennsylvania and Dan Peters of the University of Akron
as co-winners of the USBWA's Most Courageous Award for men's basketball
and Kirsten Moore of NAIA Westmont College as the recipient of the
Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award for women.
All three exemplify what the USBWA's courage award stands for:
inspiration, hope and an undeniable spirit to persevere.
Jok, a senior guard at Penn, grew up in a world of violence in
war-torn Southern Sudan, the son of a Sudanese army general who
was murdered when Jok was 6.
Three years ago as a freshman at Penn, Jok established a foundation
in his father's honor to educate Sudanese youth through sports.
Since then, Jok has been able to provide soccer balls and basketballs
for kids in Sudan. One day he hopes there will be a secondary school,
built with money from his foundation.
Jok has a goal to bring peace to his home country. He was named
a recipient of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace
award and received a $10,000 grant to help his cause to fight poverty
and violence in Southern Sudan.
"I am optimistic because I think I am blessed with some of the
resources at my disposal, whether it be human connection, people
willing to help or having the solid foundation of people supporting
me," Dau told the Penn Courant in 2011. "I think motivation,
passion, (are) contagious. ... I have 1,000 reasons to smile rather
than 100 reasons to be angry, so I have to keep that in perspective."
Peters, the Director of Basketball Operations for Akron and a
30-year veteran of the coaching profession, was recently diagnosed
with pancreatic cancer and given a five percent chance to live.
Peters underwent surgery in December for a cancerous tumor in
his pancreas but doctors were unable to remove it. Now, it seems
as though the entire college landscape has rallied around him, hoping
and praying for his survival.
During the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Awareness weekend
in January, 26 collegiate programs across the country, including
Arizona, Indiana, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Akron, among others,
wore lapel pins with the phrase "4 Pete's Sake" on them. Peters'
story of support throughout the coaching community has helped create
awareness for those battling pancreatic cancer.
"Whatever happens is OK," the 59-year old Peters told the Akron
Beacon Journal. "I believe God has always taken care of me. I'm
in his hands. As much as I would like to live, that may not be the
option. I have no regrets. I'm going to try as hard as I can to
Moore's life changed forever two years ago. Happily married and
coaching another successful team at Westmont College in Santa Barbara,
Calif., Moore was eight months pregnant when in May 2012 her husband
Alex, age 31, died of a pulmonary embolism following colon surgery.
Seven weeks later, a baby girl was born. Kirsten named her Alexis.
Kirsten feared what might happen for herself, her child and for
her team if she didn't go on. So she continued to coach and the
Warriors rallied around her, winning an NAIA women's national championship
for the 2012-13 season and finishing with a record of 30-4.
"It's not just what I do, but who I am and how I can do some
good in the world," Moore told a local television reporter. "I didn't
care what the scoreboard said at the end of the (national championship).
We were already champions. We had overcome. What I felt when we
won was ... just a lot of love.
"Extraordinary love can accomplish extraordinary things."
Jok will receive his most courageous award at the USBWA's honors
breakfast at this year's NCAA Men's Final Four in Dallas on Monday,
April 7. Peters will be presented with his award at an Akron home
game in March, while Moore will receive the Pat Summitt award prior
to the semifinals of the women's Final Four on Sunday, April 6 at
Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
The women's most courageous award is named in honor of the former
Tennessee coach who received the award in 2012 after revealing she
was suffering from early onset dementia.
The USBWA will make a contribution to a charity as selected by
each award recipient.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America
team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at
Most Courageous Award