Note: This is the second of four major FSU Athletics Awards that will be presented between now and Friday for the 2018-19 campaign. The remaining awards will be announced over the course of this week.
Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University softball infielder Jackie Kirkpatrick (Dewey, Okla.), who concluded her second season with the FSU softball team this past spring as the Bulldogs reached the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament, has been chosen as the recipient of Ferris State Athletics' Jimmy Swears Courage Award for the recently-completed 2018-19 campaign.
The Jimmy Swears Courage Award is presented to a deserving student or current personnel within the Bulldog Athletics program, who when confronted with a life-altering or difficult situation, has used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome the odds while inspiring others.
Kirkpatrick, who joined the FSU program after beginning her collegiate softball career at Fort Scott Community College, has overcome the loss of both her parents to continue her dream of playing softball on the college level.
"Jackie Kirkpatrick is an outstanding choice as the Jimmy Swears Courage Award recipient," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger. "She has overcome adversity in her life to be an integral member of our softball program.
"Jackie is a great example of what can be accomplished through dedication, work ethic and commitment," he added. "She should be extremely proud of her achievements and we are honored to name her as the recipient of the Jimmy Swears Courage Award."
Kirkpatrick experienced a life-altering event with the loss of her mother in April 2017 when she was only 19 after previously losing her father while in elementary school. She became completely independent on her own and has had to battle thru various struggles to continue her quest to finish college and her dream of playing softball. After beginning her collegiate career on the junior college level in Kansas, she moved 15 hours away to start over in Big Rapids where she's been involved in both softball and the school Psychology Club. This past spring, she was named to the GLIAC All-Academic Excellence Team for her work in the classroom.
"Jackie is thriving as a Bulldog and is one of the hardest workers we have both on the field and in the classroom," said FSU head coach Kristin Janes. "Along with that, she's been one of our best team-oriented players on the field and a tremendous teammate to others. She's had and continues to battle thru a very tough road, but it hasn't kept her from reaching her dreams."
The Jimmy Swears Courage Award is named in honor of longtime FSU Athletics booster Jim Swears, who passed away Jan. 17, 2007, at the age of 64 following a lengthy bout with cancer. A local businessman and community activist, Swears was a strong supporter of Ferris State men's ice hockey, football, and basketball. He worked diligently to help develop and maintain FSU's status as a NCAA Division I men's ice hockey program. Additionally, Swears served on the board of directors for the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association and was an active member of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. He was the 2006 recipient of the Northern Lights Lifetime Achievement Award for business and industry in the Big Rapids (Mich.) area.
Nominees for the award are an inspiration to their peers, serve as a role model to others and are a team leader while responding to adversity. Those individuals nominated for the award must be involved with the Bulldog intercollegiate athletics program and possibly include student-athletes, student managers, student coaches and/or student athletic trainers in addition to current athletics department personnel.
"We're honored to be able to present these year-end awards and extremely pleased as an athletic department to be able to honor our outstanding student-athletes and people with awards named after individuals who have played such a big part in the history and tradition of Bulldog Athletics," said Weisenburger.
Kirkpatrick becomes the 11th-ever winner of the Jimmy Swears Courage Award and the first Bulldog softball player to earn the recognition. Former women's basketball guard Kylie Muntz is the only two-time winner of the prestigious honor, making this year's honor the 12th time overall in which the award has been bestowed.
The other nominees for this year's honor included Ferris State Football student-athletes Malik Taylor and Malik Hazzard along with men's basketball senior forward Markese Mayfield and junior guard D'angelo Hughes.
Jimmy Swears Courage Award Recipients
2018-19 - Jackie Kirkpatrick (Softball)
2017-18 - Tavierre Thomas (Football)
2016-17 - Chad McDonald (Men's Ice Hockey)
2015-16 - James Chappell (Men's Basketball)
2014-15 - Simon Denis (Men's Ice Hockey)
2013-14 - Will Huntington (Men's Tennis)
2012-13 - Kylie Muntz (Women's Basketball)
2011-12 - Kylie Muntz (Women's Basketball)
2010-11 - Natalie Diorio (Women's Tennis)
2009-10 - Richard Weisenberger (Men's Golf)
2008-09 - Aaron Lewicki (Men's Ice Hockey)
2007-08 - No recipient
2006-07 - Mark Bomersback (Men's Ice Hockey)