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Vol. 51, No. 3 • March 2014 • .pdf version
Jok, Peters, Moore deemed year's Most Courageous
By ED GRANEY / Las Vegas Review Journal
The process was difficult this year, filled with capable candidates whose acts of courage help define all that is right with college basketball.
Never have those voting remembered so many deserving folks.
Which makes the stories of those who have been named winners of the USBWA Most Courageous Awards for 2013 all the more impressive and inspiring.
Here are those special people, to be honored at their respective Final Fours or during a home game at their university.
Men's winners ...
Co-Most Courageous: Dau Jok, Pennsylvania.
He is an ideologist, a human-rights activist, the son of a Sudanese army general who was murdered when Dau was just 6.
Dau is a senior guard now, having established three years ago a foundation aimed at educating the children of Sudan through sports.
In winning a Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace award and the $10,000 grant that came with it, Dau was able to begin helping those back home fight poverty and violence in post-conflict Southern Sudan. His ultimate goal: Do the same for those across the world, despite any potential risk that might come with such an endeavor.
"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, (is) contagious. ... I have 1,000 reasons to smile rather than 100 reasons to be angry, so I have to keep that in perspective."
Co-Most Courageous: Dan Peters, Akron.
Five percent to live. Those are the odds that have been handed Peters, the Director of Operations for the Zips and a 30-year veteran of the coaching profession.
Peters underwent surgery in December for a cancerous tumor found in his pancreas, but doctors were unable to remove it. Now, it seems as though the entire college landscape has rallied around him in hoping and praying for his survival.
Schools from Arizona to Bowling Green, from Ball State to Northern Illinois, from Ohio State to Toledo, from Delta State to Eastern Michigan, and several in between have shown their support for Peters by wearing pins or patches.
"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 fight this."
Women's winner ...
Kirsten Moore, Westmont College.
The journey was seemingly perfect for Moore.
Happily married. Coaching another successful team. Eight months pregnant.
But life took one of its tragic and heartbreaking turns for Moore in May 2012, when her husband died of a pulmonary embolism following colon surgery. Alex Moore was 31.Seven weeks later, a baby girl was born.
Her name: Alexis.
Kirsten feared what might happen if she didn't go on. For herself. Her child. Her team. So she continued to coach and the Warriors rallied around her, winning an NAIA women's national championship for the 2012-13 season.
Tucked away in the picturesque hills of Santa Barbara and 90 minutes from Los Angeles, Westmont College has a head coach in Moore who has won nearly 70 percent of her games over nine seasons, including a 30-4 record during that memorable and yet devastating championship season.
"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."
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