Each year three NJCAA student-athletes are honored for their achievements on the playing fields, as well as in the classroom and their community, with the highest honors the association has established. In order to be considered for one of the following prestigious awards a student-athlete must be nominated by his/her college, region or conference.
Lea Plarski Award
Created in 1995, the Lea Plarski Award is presented annually to an NJCAA student-athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence and athletic ability. The honor is named after former NJCAA Lea Plarski in recognition of her tremendous service to the association. The former director of athletics at St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley (MO), Plarski was instrumental in establishing the Women's Division of the NJCAA in 1975 - the first national collegiate athletic organization to develop such a structure. She served as Vice President of the NJCAA Women's Division from 1975-90. In 1990 she was tabbed as NJCAA President, becoming the first woman to hold the top elected position in the association. Known for her tireless dedication to student-athletes, the Lea Plarski Award honors her numerous accomplishments and service to the NJCAA. View Recipients
David Rowlands Award - Male Student-Athlete of the Year
Launched at the start of the 1992-93 academic year in conjunction with the Betty Jo Graber Award, the David Rowlands Award annually honors the superior athletic achievements of a male student-athlete. The award is named after former NJCAA Region 4 Men's Director and Truman College (Ill.) athletic director David Rowlands who was a member of the NJCAA Board of Directors from 1972-88. Rowlands, who was elected to the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1989, was the chair of the Division I baseball committee and was an active member of the national committees on gymnastics, golf and eligibility. Greatly respected by his peers and colleagues, he was the perfect model of hard work, discipline, ethics and excellence in two-year college athletics. The David Rowlands Award honors his passion and commitment to the NJCAA and annually recognizes a student-athlete that best exhibits these traits. View Recipients
Betty Jo Graber Award - Female Student-Athlete of the Year
In conjunction with the David Rowlands Award, the Betty Jo Graber Award was created by the NJCAA in 1992. Graber was an influential leader in the Association and helped pioneer the creation of the Women's Division of the NJCAA in 1975. As the NJCAA Region 5 Women's Director, Graber chaired the Association's women's basketball committee from its inception in 1975 until her retirement in 1991. In addition to her contributions on the NJCAA Board of Directors, Graber helped establish the NJCAA Women's Basketball Coaches Association and was a member of its inaugural hall of fame class in 1998. Also a member of the national Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, Graber was a leader that exhibited dedication, service and resilience - traits that are recognized annually to the top female student-athlete with the award named in her honor. View Recipients