There were a number of awards presented at the 18th Annual Hoops Homecoming at Northeastern Junior College held on February 18th. One of the awards presented following the women’s game as the annual the Andi Whitlock Heart Award.
This award, voted on by the coaches and the players, is given to a Plainswomen basketball player each year who her peers believe defines ‘heart.’ This year’s award went to a five foot seven sophomore guard named Beth Cooper, who came to NJC from High Plains High School in Seibert, CO. “Beth is a true team player that comes to practice and games with a focus,” said Coach Darrel Parker as he made the announcement. “She is outstanding in the classroom and great on the court. She is always willing to do what you ask and always puts the team first.”
This award honors the memory of a young woman named Andi Whitlock of New Raymer, who played at NJC from 2001-2003. Andi was part of a team that won the Region IX title and made a trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament. Tragically, her life was cut short when she died from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident in 2004. She was working as an emergency medical technician at the time she died.
Following her death, a fellow student, John Wilson of Fort Collins, who played baseball here during those same years took it upon himself to initiate the establishment of the award in her name. He purchased the beautiful wood plaque you see on the wall at the Bank of Colorado Event Center. It bears the name of each year’s one or more winners since 2004, engraved on a gold plate. Since the award began, 16 players’ names have been placed on the plaque.
Also, following Andi’s death, a wonderful group of cattlemen, called Feeders and Friends, honored her memory by raising over $30,000 dollars in scholarships during its annual ranch rodeo fundraiser held in New Raymer. The money was given to the NJC Foundation to be used for scholarships for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) each year in Andi’s name. The annual award and the scholarships keep Andi’s memory very vivid and alive on campus. Members of Andi’s family were present at the game to help present the award including her twin sister Amber, her brother Seth and her mother, Sandy Younglund.
Celebrating Andi Whitlock’s memory was one of many items accomplished at the 2012 Hoops Homecoming at NJC on Feb. 18when the “Andi Whitlock Heart Award” was presented to Beth Cooper. Pictured left to right during the presentation is NJC Women’s Basketball Coach Darrel Parker, Beth Cooper, Amber Whitlock, Sandy Younglund and Seth Whitlock. (Courtesy Photo)