The following article was written by the Sports Information Director of the AMC, Scott Barker:
St. Louis, Mo. – The American Midwest Conference (AMC) has announced that Jenna Duckworth has been named the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award winner.
The Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award recognizes a student-athlete who excels academically, athletically and embraces the core values of Champions of Character.
Duckworth, a Columbia, Mo. native, will be entering her senior year as a softball player for Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.). She has been an AMC All-Academic the previous three years and was named to the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete list this past season, en route to a cumulative GPA over 3.9.
This past December, Duckworth became a member of Be the Match and signed up to become a bone marrow donor and she is currently planning ways to raise awareness and fundraise for the organization.
"True character is hard to achieve because it requires constant effort; a constant will to do what's right, even if it isn't easy," said Duckworth. "Character is what you do when nobody is looking. Don't take the easy way out, be resilient and work through the hard times."
In addition to becoming a bone marrow donor, Duckworth also volunteers in the STU22 crew, which is a foundation created in memory of Stuart Eiken who was a high school student-athlete who committed suicide. The foundation raises awareness for teen suicide and holds a 5k every Father's Day weekend in Stuart's name.
This summer, Jenna is volunteering at the local children's therapy center and will be working with children with disabilities, helping them do their therapeutic exercises.
"Jenna has demonstrated all the core character values that the NAIA has identified," said Hannibal-LaGrange head softball coach Dan Hurst. "Her level of integrity is obvious by being accountable to her commitments as a student-athlete to her teammates and coaches. She has earned respect by conducting herself in a way that builds the trust necessary to be an effective leader. Jenna is a great competitor and plays with intense effort, but always within the guidelines of good sportsmanship. She is respectful of opposing players, coaches and officials."
On the playing field, Duckworth was a career batting average of .330 and hit a career-high .354 this past season. Jenna is also a great defender behind the plate as she has a career fielding percentage of .975.
"Jenna has established herself as one of the top players on the team for the past three seasons," said Hurst. "She has been the starting catcher for three years and has been very successful as a hitter with a career .330 average."
"Choose courage over comfort," said Duckworth. "Crave the various challenges this life offers. Take everything in stride and when you achieve your goals, remain humble. All of these principles are what makes me, me. My entire philosophy is to shine my light with others whose light might not be shining so bright. I would like to personally thank everyone who has made this opportunity possible."
The American Midwest Conference is a 13-school Division I conference with schools in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas. It was chartered in 1986 as the Show-Me Collegiate Conference becoming the American Midwest Conference in 1994. The Conference sponsors 18 championships, nine each for men and women – baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's indoor track & field, men's and women's outdoor track & field, women's volleyball and men's wrestling.