SU's Weinel, EMU's Alderfer Claim League's Highest Honors
FOREST, Va. --- It is rare to have a "first" for a set of awards that have been bestowed since the early 1980's, but that is exactly what we have this season following the announcement of the Marjorie Berkley and Harry G. "Doc" Jopson Awards on Tuesday afternoon. Shenandoah University women's basketball forward Olivia Weinel and Eastern Mennonite University cross country and mid-distance track athlete Isaac Alderfer garnered the conference's highest honors from the ODAC Board of the Directors.
Weinel is the first recipient of either honor from Shenandoah since the Winchester-based school joined the ODAC prior to the 2012-13 season. Alderfer is the sixth Royal to earn the Jopson Award and 12th overall high honor winner from EMU. He is the first Royals' student-athlete to claim either trophy since Tyler Denlinger earned the Jopson Award in 2017.
Inaugurated in 1984 and 1981, respectively, the Marjorie Berkley and Harry G. "Doc" Jopson Scholar-Athlete Awards are given each spring to member institution seniors and conference sport participants who exhibit the highest athletic, academic, and extracurricular achievements. Ms. Berkley began her collegiate teaching career at then Lynchburg College. Several years later, she moved to Hollins University where she coached tennis, field hockey, and soccer, and served as the athletic director for 30 years.
The Jopson Award is named in honor of the Bridgewater College professor and coach who retired in 1981 following 45 years at BC. Dr. Jopson, who initiated and directed the Eagles' cross country and track & field programs, led his teams to ODAC indoor track & field titles in 1979, 1980 and 1981, and outdoor crowns from 1978 through 1981.
RELATED: Berkley and Jopson Award History
"You can’t win alone in basketball, and without the combined sacrifices for one another, we wouldn’t have found success," explained Weinel in a written statement as part of her nomination for the Berkley Award. "My teammates have come in all different shapes and sizes, just like my classmates. Together, we completed group projects, community service initiatives, and internships. The evolution of my leadership stemmed from athletics, and propelled me academically."
This is not the first time Weinel has been a nominee for a multi-faceted award. Earlier this year, she was a top-10 finalist for the prestigious Jostens Trophy, an honor created by the Rotary Club of Salem, Va., and supported by Jostens Inc. to recognize the top men's and women's basketball student-athletes in Division III. Much like the Berkley Award, Weinel also won the Shenandoah University Athletic Director's Award as the SU student-athlete that best represents Division III ideals.
Weinel is an avid supporter of Special Olympics Virginia, participating in several initiatives including special workouts via zoom during the COVID seasons of 2020 thru 2022. The support she showed her campus community is unmatched as both a volunteer on the Shenandoah Concern Hotline to provide support to those in need and as a Thrive Guide, meeting one-on-one with fellow students and helping them establish the skills needed to navigate collegiate life. Weinel was a member of SU's SAAC since 2018 and served as its President for the 2021-22 academic year. She participated in numerous endeavors including the Bright Futures Fair in Frederick County and Winchester, and Kids Day Out. She served as a translator at Sinclair Health Clinic and donated her time as a lunch and recess buddie at Quarles Elementary School and as a server at Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter.
In the classroom, Weinel maintained a 3.99 grade point average as a triple major in criminal justice/criminology, psychology, and Spanish. The 2021 ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete of the Year is a member of SU's chapters of Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), Psi Chi (psychology), Alpha Lambda Delta (first-year), and Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish) honor societies, the latter of which she served as chapter President. A perennial member of the Shenandoah Presidents List, Weinel earned the SU Alumni Association Outstanding Graduate Award for the College of Arts & Sciences.
"Olivia exemplifies what it means to be a Division III student-athlete," explained Melissa Smeltzer-Kraft, head coach of Shenandoah women's basketball. "She has excelled in the classroom and on the court, and her impact on our campus community is immeasurable. I am so proud to have been her coach these past four years and that she is SU's first-ever recipient of this prestigious award."
On the floor, the D3hoops.com All-Region honoree collected her first All-ODAC award this season with an appointment to the first team. Weinel bookended her career with conference championships as she helped Shenandoah claim its first ODAC women's basketball title in 2018-19 and again hoisted the league trophy this year as part of an ODAC All-Tournament Team performance. The two-time ODAC Player of the Week and two-year team captain averaged a career-best 13.3 points per game to go with 4.6 rebounds per contest. She led the ODAC in field goals made (151-of-319) and free throw shooting (86.4% - 70-of-81). She was third in total points scored (372). Weinel graduated with career totals of 878 points (9.6/game), 328 rebounds, 86 assists, and 34 blocked shots in 91 career games played.
"Being part of an athletic team at EMU has helped me to develop skills directly associated with my athletic performance, in addition to skills that directly apply to my life and academics such as time management, conflict mediation, communication, and leadership," explained Alderfer in a written statement as part of his nomination for the Jopson Award. "While it certainly has not always been easy to balance athletics with school work and a social life, it has in so many ways been rewarding and worth the sacrifices involved."
Alderfer is no stranger to high acclaim during his time at Eastern Mennonite, but it all began before he arrived on the Harrisonburg-based campus. He was named a Yoder Scholar, which is recognized as EMU's highest academic award featuring a full-tuition scholarship for four years.
Alderfer excelled in all facets of campus life including a robust profile of leadership and service endeavors. From working as a barista in the campus coffee shop to serving as President of EMU's Explore Club, Alderfer had a hand in many activities. He was a member of the leadership team in EMU's Earthkeepers Club and served as a student ambassador for the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions. Alderfer was a student government Senator and member of the EMU Honors Council, Creation Care Council, and Intercultural Committee. He worked toward various biology research projects and served as a biology tutor. He also wrote for the campus newspaper and served as a photographer.
In the classroom, Alderfer maintained a 3.97 grade point average as an environmental science major with minors in photography and honors. The perennial Dean's List member was named the Senior Environmental Science Student of the Year and finished second in the Haverim Theology Writing Competition. The two-time ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete of the Year earned CoSIDA All-America laurels in 2020-21 and a pair of Academic All-District honors (this year's AAA awards have not yet been announced).
"Isaac Alderfer is balanced and selfless," expressed Bob Hepler, head coach for EMU cross country and track & field. "Academic achievement, serving God and others always came before athletic achievement. Yet he achieved at the highest levels athletically. His young life is truly a model for all of us."
In his running shoes, Alderfer excelled as a cross country and track & field star for the Royals. He was named the EMU Male Athlete of the Year twice in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and joined classmate Allison Shelly in earning this year's President's Award as those who have most exemplified the values of the athletic department during their career through academic achievement, athletic contribution, Christian commitment, leadership, campus involvement, and service.
An 11-time All-ODAC honoree and 10-time ODAC Athlete of the Week, Alderfer was named the 2021 ODAC Track Athlete of the Meet after winning the outdoor 1,500-meter run with a conference meet-record time (3:51.02) and placing second in the 800-meter run. He owns EMU records in the indoor distance medley relay (10:22.26) as well as the 800-meter (1:54.63) and mile (4:08.43) runs. Outdoors, he holds EMU records in the 800m (1:50.61), 1,500m (3:52.47), and mile (4:06.33) events. Three times Alderfer qualified for NCAA national championships in track & field. He finished ninth overall in the outdoor 800m run (1:52.13) in 2020-21. In 2021-22, he competed nationally both indoors and outdoors. He placed 16th in both the indoor mile (4:12.31) and outdoor 1,500m run (3:52.48). A three-time ODAC champion overall, Alderfer earned VaSID Indoor Track Athlete of the Year distinction in 2021.
2022 Marjorie Berkley Award Nominees
- Hanna Randolph, Bridgewater (Soccer)
- Allison Shelly, Eastern Mennonite (Cross Country/Track & Field)
- Arielle Eure, Ferrum (Softball)
- Jackie Lerro, Lynchburg (Field Hockey)
- Lilly Blair, Roanoke (Lacrosse)
- Olivia Weinel, Shenandoah (Basketball)
- Annika Kuleba, Sweet Briar (Golf)
- Kennedi Anders, Virginia Wesleyan (Soccer)
- Samantha Johnson, Washington and Lee (Equestrian)
2022 Harry G. "Doc" Jopson Award Nominees
- Matthew Gordon, Bridgewater (Tennis)
- Isaac Alderfer, Eastern Mennonite (Cross Country/Track & Field)
- Bryce Vestal, Guilford (Baseball)
- Hunter Martin, Hampden-Sydney (Golf)
- William Fowler, Lynchburg (Track & Field)
- Alex Kulvivat, Randolph (Tennis)
- Buzz Anthony, Randolph-Macon (Basketball)
- Zach Behe, Roanoke (Soccer)
- Tucker Kindig, Shenandoah (Track & Field)
- Nick Spagnoletti, Washington and Lee (Lacrosse)