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Athletes of Distinction





BJ Graber Award
2010 NJCAA Betty Jo Graber Award Honored to Kelly Closse of South Plains College

By Gage Axford, NJCAA Student-Assistant

The 2009-10 recipient of the NJCAA Betty Jo Graber Female Student-Athlete of the Year is Kelly Closse of South Plains College (Texas). The Lady Texan dominated sport of track and field during her two years in the NJCAA, winning multiple national titles. The Betty Jo Graber Award is handed out annually to the top female student-athlete in the NJCAA that best exhibits hard work, discipline, ethics and excellence in competition.

Closse is the second student-athlete from South Plains to receive the Betty Jo Graber Award. Former Lady Texan Sally Kipyego won the honor for the 2005-2006 academic year.

Closse's strength and commitment to her sport resulted into several school and NJCAA accolades. She is a five-time NJCAA champion, winning the indoor weight throw and shot put events in 2009, the Division I outdoor shot put in 2009 and 2010 and the Division outdoor discus throw in 2010. With Closse on the roster, South Plains was able to capture back-to-back NJCAA Women's Division I Outdoor Track & Field titles in 2009 and 2010 along with the NJCAA Women's Indoor Track & Field Championship in 2009.

Along with her championship success, the French born talent placed herself as one of the greatest throwers in NJCAA history. Closse holds NJCAA championship records for both the indoor and outdoor shot put. She set both the indoor mark (52' 9.5") and outdoor record (52' 8.25") in 2009. In addition to her records, Closse was named the Female Field Athlete of the Meet at the 2009 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Closse, who also owns SPC school records in the indoor shot put and weight throw and outdoor records for hammer throw, shot put, and discus throw, will continue her education and track & field career at Texas Tech University.

About the Betty Jo Graber Award
Betty Jo Graber spent 35 years advancing opportunities for women in NJCAA athletics. Along with a successful basketball coaching career at Weatherford College, she was also the Region 5 Women's Director, the NJCAA Women's Basketball Committee Chair and a founding member of the NJCAA Women's Division. Graber is a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Tennessee. Graber was the perfect model of hard work, discipline, ethics and excellence in community college athletics. This award is given annually to the NJCAA Student-Athlete that best exhibits these traits.

NJCAA BETTY JO GRABER AWARD RECIPIENTS

Year

Name

Sport(s)

College; City, State

1992-1993

Carey Burton

Volleyball

Barton County Community College; Great Bend, Kan.

1993-1994

Nema Corey

Slow Pitch Softball

Meridian Community College; Meridian, Miss.

1994-1995

Kay Mannebach

Cross Country & Track

Colby Community College; Colby, Kan.

1995-1996

Tricia Ferrin

Basketball

Utah Valley State College; Orem, Utah

1996-1997

Nicole Weed,

Softball

Daytona Beach Community College; Daytona Beach, Fla.

1997-1998

Kaunda Kay Williams

Basketball

Gulf Coast Community College; Panama City, Fla.

1998-1999

Yalika "Boo" Barnes

Basketball

Trinity Valley Community College; Athens, Texas

1999-2000

Devra Viekant

Cross Country & Track

Utah Valley State College; Orem, Utah

2000-2001

Stephanie Martin

Volleyball

College of Southern Idaho; Twin Falls, Idaho

2001-2002

Yuliana Perez

Track & Field

Pima Community College; Tucson, Ariz.

2002-2003

Natashia Morehead

Basketball

Gulf Coast Community College; Panama City, Fla.

2003-2004

Heidi Brooks

Basketball & Softball

Corning Community College; Corning, N.Y.

2004-2005

Chelsie Mesa

Softball

Phoenix College; Phoenix, Ariz.

2005-2006

Sally Kipyego

Track & Field

South Plains College; Levelland, Texas

2006-2007

Kristina Jenkins

Bowling

Hudson Valley Community College; Troy, N.Y.

2007-2008

Lindsey Palmer

Softball

Salt Lake Community College; Salt Lake City, Utah

2008-2009

Nicole Race

Golf

Redlands Community College; El Reno, Okla.

2009-2010

Kelly Closse

Track & Field

South Plains College , Texas

 























































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