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Athletes of Distinction

Lea Plarski Award
2006-2007 Lea Plarski Award Presented to Angela Verbeelen

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) awarded the 2006-07 NJCAA Lea Plarski Award to Angela Verbeelen of Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

A native of Melrose, Fla., Verbeelen was the captain of the Florida Community College at Jacksonville softball team, playing centerfield. She was described by many coaches in Region 8 as a student-athlete that symbolizes the essence of sportsmanship.

Florida Community College at Jacksonville Athletic Director George Sanders, who along with head softball coach Jamie Lind nominated Verbeelen for the award, has high praise for Verbeelen.

"Angela is the type of kid that any school or team would be proud to call one of their own," Sanders explains. "She is truly a great person who happens to be a very good student-athlete. We always look for kids in our programs to brag about, and she is one of the best I have ever had in my 15 years as an Athletic Administrator. She takes nothing for granted, is appreciative of everything, and really is a role model for her teammates and student-athletes around the country. I hope my own daughter grows up to be like Angela Verbeelen, especially off the field."

Verbeelen maintained a 4.0 grade point average while volunteering much of her time to many local organizations. She was actively involved in the Jacksonville community with several charities including the Special Olympics, Take Stock in Children, and Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., as well as being involved with other local activities such as food and clothing drives. In addition to her volunteerism, she also regularly visited local nursing homes to assist with day-to-day activities and chat with seniors.

Verbeelen was not only a valuable member of the Jacksonville community, but also an integral part of the FCCJ softball team. She was a two-time All-Mid Florida Conference selection and has helped guide her team to back-to-back appearances in the Region 8 tournament. She ended the 2006-07 regular season with a .290 batting average, including seven doubles, a homerun and nine stolen bases. She tied for second on the team with 16 walks.

"In the measurable things such as softball statistics and GPA she is obviously in an elite class," said FCCJ head softball coach Jamie Lind of Verbeelen. "She has the ability to lead her peers without losing their friendship, which is an art that not many people have, particularly in this age group. What really defines her is her integrity and commitment and as a coach as I have complete confidence that she will do whatever is asked of her and do it well. She has the same work ethic whether she is working in front of coaches and teammates or working on her own. She is a success and I am honored to have coached her and to have her represent my program."




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