WLU's Berry, H-SC's Howerton Earn Top Scholar-Athlete Honors
FOREST, Va. --- Two schools very familiar with conference end of season awards added to their showcases of postseason honors as the ODAC Board of Directors determined recipients of the Marjorie Berkley and Harry G. "Doc" Jopson Awards. Washington and Lee University volleyball middle blocker Courtney Berry garnered Berkley Award plaudits and Hampden-Sydney College offensive lineman Tyler Howerton collected Jopson Award laurels.
Berry is the second straight and 12th overall winner of the Berkley Award for W&L, increasing the Generals conference-record total to 12. Eastern Mennonite University student-athletes have won the second-most honors at six. Berry is the first ODAC volleyball player to earn Berkley Award recognition since Rebecca (Leedom) Bradford in 2010 from then Virginia Wesleyan College.
Howerton is the 11th overall Jopson Award winner for Hampden-Sydney, which ranks second all-time behind the 15 honors received by W&L student-athletes. Howerton is the first Tiger to win the award since William Moss in 2010. He is the first football player so honored since Generals' offensive lineman Greg Kurkis earned his Jopson Award in 2011.
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
"Being a student-athlete was a quintessential part of my college career, as athletics impacted my work ethic, fostered growth through challenges, and gave me a support system," explained Berry in a written statement as part of her nomination for the Berkley Award. "My athletic career taught me to listen first and speak second, to confront others with grace and love, and that failure is not the end of the world."
A native of Charlottesville, Va., Berry's list of academic and athletic trophies is extensive. It all started before she set foot on W&L's campus as she was awarded a Johnson Scholarship. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, and their potential to contribute to the intellectual and civic life of the W&L campus and of the world at large in years to come.
Berry maintained a 3.971 grade point average as a psychology and strategic communications double-major. The two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree earned the ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award for volleyball this spring. She is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), Phi Beta Kappa (academic), and Phi Eta Sigma (first-year) national honor societies. Berry has been recognized by W&L a number of times, including three appointments to the President's List and the recipient of the William McHenry Female Scholar-Athlete Award, the top academic honor for Generals athletics. She also received the W&L Department of Journalism and Mass Communications Excellence in Strategic Communication Award and was a nominee for the Washington and Lee Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which recognizes college students and members of the college community who have demonstrated noble character and acted as humble servants, placing service to others before self-interest.
Community service has played a large part in Berry's collegiate experience. Since 2018, she has served as a small group and worship leader for Reformed University Fellowship as well as a University Ambassador tour guide for the W&L Office of Admissions. She has spent multiple years as a content creator for the W&L Office of Communications and a College Leadership Team Leader at Rockbridge Church. Berry has contributed as a research assistant in the Cognition in Context Lab, head illustrator for Project Horizon Life Book, lead class agent for the W&L Alumni Office, and in the Generals Leadership Academy.
"Courtney is the definition of a student-athlete," said W&L volleyball head coach Bryan Snyder. "She gives her all to whatever task she is currently focused on. She sets high standards for herself both from a performance standpoint and an ethical standpoint, and she exceeds those standards on a consistent basis. I could not think of a better recipient of this award."
On the court, the three-time All-ODAC First Team honoree (four all-conference honors overall) and 2019 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American led the ODAC in service aces (31) and solo blocks (20) this spring. Berry ranked second in hitting percentage (.313), block assists (41), total blocks (61), and blocks per set (1.13). Her 200.5 points earned ranked third while her 3.7 points per set slotted sixth. Berry recorded at least one block in 15-of-16 matches played, including a W&L record 13 rejections to go along with 15 kills and three aces in a 3-2 win at Virginia Wesleyan on April 20. She earned AVCA Division III Player of the Week honors to finish the regular season. Berry closed her career with 799 kills, a .335 hitting percentage, and 396 total blocks at 1.03 per set. Her blocks and hitting percentage totals both rank fourth in Generals history.
"My experience as a football player taught me to prioritize academics and athletics to manage my time since I had little room for leisure," explained Howerton in a written statement as part of his nomination for the Jopson Award. "I frequently encountered stressful situations, which instilled me with a strong competitive spirit - a desire to be my best at all times."
The Alexandria, Va., native proved to be among the nation's best scholar-athlete football players regardless of NCAA division. Howerton was one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy -- the first for Hampden-Sydney -- largely regarded as the "academic Heisman" as the premier scholar-athlete award at all levels of collegiate football. The honor, which recognizes standouts for combined academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership, also features an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.
Hampden-Sydney's Class of 2021 Valedictorian has enough honors to fill several mantles after graduating with a 4.0 grade point average as a physics major with a minor in mathematics. In 2020, Howerton received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is a national program named after former Senator Barry Goldwater and recognizes the highest levels of undergraduate achievement in natural sciences, math, and engineering. The 2019 Academic All-American is a member of five national honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa (academic), Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), Sigma Xi (scientific research), Chi Beta Phi (science), and Pi Mu Epsilon (mathematics). He is the recipient of the H-SC Weyland Thomas Joyner Physics Award and the 2021 Gammon Cup, which is presented to the member of the H-SC graduating class who has best served the College via character, scholarship, and athletic ability.
Howerton's leadership and community service ventures at H-SC and within the surrounding Farmville area are numerous, several of which have come thru his involvement as President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Tiger Athletic Club. He also served as Vice-President of Omicron Delta Kappa, helping spearhead ODK's Cares for Kids program that focuses on raising money to support local Southside Virginia children who are struggling academically. He helped H-SC's chapter of ODK earn its first-ever Maurice A. Clay Grant, given by the national branch to support leadership development initiatives. Howerton's volunteer efforts include Special Olympics with Prince Edward County Public Schools, Prince Edward Christmas Mother (gift-giving organization), Hampden-Sydney Volunteer Fire Department (station cleanup and organization), Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash (2nd grade literacy program), Farmville Area Community Emergency Services (FACES) Food Pantry, H-SC Mentoring Program at Prince Edward County Middle School, and numerous highway cleanups.
"What Tyler has accomplished at Hampden-Sydney is truly off the charts," said H-SC football head coach Marty Favret. "A superstar scholar/physicist and an all-league four-year starter on the gridiron. Moreover, a difference-maker on our campus and in our community. You are only blessed to coach this type of scholar-athlete once in a decade."
On the field, Howerton spent time at center, right guard, and left tackle while starting all 32 games in which he played over his career. He earned All-ODAC First Team laurels this season and was an All-ODAC Third Team choice in 2017. A perennial honoree on the ODAC All-Academic Team, Howerton is a member of the 2021 National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame Hampshire Society. He is a recipient of the Hampden-Sydney President's Award for Overall Academic Excellence, given to the senior at H-SC who stands highest in his class. Howerton served as a Student-Athlete mentor (SAM) for five semesters, including as a member of SAM's Presidents Council this year. He also spent time as a campus tour guide for football recruiting events.
2021 Marjorie Berkley Award Nominees
- Erin Fitzpatrick, Bridgewater | Track & Field
- Megan Breidigan, Eastern Mennonite | Soccer
- Allyson Steadman, Emory & Henry | Softball
- Alex Mattson, Ferrum | Soccer
- Ellen Druebbisch, Lynchburg | Tennis
- Rebecca Hensley, Roanoke | Softball
- Isabella Morande, Shenandoah | Field Hockey
- Courtney Berry, Washington and Lee | Volleyball
2021 Harry G. "Doc" Jopson Award Nominees
- Jaylon Lee, Eastern Mennonite | Baseball
- C.J. Poulsen, Emory & Henry | Soccer
- Josh Greenway, Ferrum | Baseball
- Tyler Howerton, Hampden-Sydney | Football
- Tyler Gallagher, Lynchburg | Lacrosse
- Jack Fishwick, Roanoke | Tennis
- Jack Massie, Shenandoah | Football
- Danny Lynch, Washington and Lee | Swimming