ATLANTA — The ASUN Conference recognized its 2022-23 Fall Winners for Life team on Wednesday. The team is composed of one student-athlete from all 14 institutions and honors those who display excellence on and off the playing surface. The Winners for Life team honors a campus citizen that is respected as one who shares and/or demonstrates the ASUN Core Values: Education, Honesty, Student-Athlete Experience, Fairness, Health, Ambition, Respect, Diversity, Inclusion, Leadership, Responsibility and Sportsmanship. To be eligible for the award, the student-athlete must have competed in the current academic year in an ASUN sponsored sport and be in good academic standing at his/her university.
2022-23 ASUN Conference Fall Winners for Life Team
Kelsey Mead, Austin Peay – Volleyball
Rahim Shalash, Bellarmine – Men’s Soccer
Jerry Gutierrez, Central Arkansas – Men’s Soccer
Tucker Schroeder, Eastern Kentucky – Football
Chelsey Lockey, FGCU – Volleyball
Kariana Ayala-Drew, Jacksonville – Volleyball
Lena Kindermann, Jacksonville State – Volleyball
Kendall Higgs, Kennesaw State – Women’s Soccer
Kyle Harkabus, Liberty – Men’s Cross Country
Noah Gulden, Lipscomb – Men’s Soccer
Morgan Ebert, North Alabama – Women’s Soccer
Mahalia White, North Florida – Volleyball
Jada Palmer, Queens – Women’s Soccer
Jakob McConnell, Stetson – Men’s Cross Country
Kelsey Mead led Austin Peay with 648 assists and 6.17 assists per set during the Governors’ first season of ASUN Volleyball competition. She ended the 2022 campaign ranked 11th in the conference for total assists and 15th in assists per set. She helped the Govs to a 12-15 overall record which included six victories inside the Winfield Dunn Center. The senior, with a 4.00 GPA, recorded 19 hours of community engagement this fall, including volunteering at the Child Learning Center, cleaning at the Florence Lauderdale Animal Shelter, donating candy for GHOST, donating food for the canned food drive and donating shoes to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church – which will be restored and distributed to the homeless population as the temperatures drop.
A 2022 ASUN Men’s Soccer All-Academic Team selection, Bellarmine’s Rahim Shalash appeared in all 18 matches with eight starts as a Knight captain this season. Shalash tallied two assists while helping the team to its third consecutive ASUN Championship Semifinal match. When he was not on the pitch, Shalash was had at work in the classroom with a 3.93 GPA as a Biology/Pre-Med major. He was twice named to the ASUN Honor Roll and was a 2022 College Sports Communicators’ Academic All-District Team honoree. The Bellarmine senior is serving as the SAAC President while also serving on BU’s Athletics Advisory board and conducting Biochemistry research in the summer. Shalash has also volunteered time for multiple community service events including Norton Downtown, the Nazareth Home and Highlands Middle School to help the boy’s and girl’s soccer programs.
Jerry Gutierrez guided the Central Arkansas Men’s Soccer team to its second-straight ASUN Championship Final appearance, starting in 17 matches while scoring three goals and an assist during the 2022 campaign. Gutierrez is a member of UCA SAAC and has done a lot of work volunteering his time at Food Banks in Colorado and California when not in season. The UCA Junior holds a 3.26 GPA studying Criminology with a minor in Psychology. Gutierrez said when it comes to maintaining the standard within the classroom, it’s crucial to value every lecture and learn as much as possible; whether it’s taking notes or participating in discussions, every interaction with education should never be taken for granted. He strives to become the second member of his family to graduate from higher education.
A team captain and starting center for the Eastern Kentucky football team, Tucker Schroeder helped guide the Colonels to an ASUN Championship and first appearance in the FCS Playoffs since 2014. A graduate student at EKU pursuing an MBA, Schroeder had a 3.63 GPA in earning a pair of bachelor’s degrees in Sports Management and Sociology. An EKU Athletic Director’s Leadership Award winner and three-year SAAC member, Schroeder has been involved in many leadership opportunities including FCA leadership team, Special Olympics volunteer, peer mentor for EKU Athletes on a Mission and is a recent I AM EKU award recipient. In the community, Schroeder has volunteered at First Baptist Church’s Empty Bowls Event, the Special Olympics in Florida and Kentucky along with coordinating the Tees and Touchdowns event.
A First Team All-Conference selection, Chelsey Lockey helped FGCU to its second consecutive ASUN Volleyball Championship and highlighted the All-Tournament Team as the postseason’s most valuable player. During the regular season, she ranked inside the top five in the league for assists (1,264; 2nd), assists per set (10.80; 3rd), service aces (45; 4th) and service aces per set (0.38; 6th). She was a member of the ASUN All-Academic Team and CSC Academic All-District with an overall GPA of 3.91. She has volunteered locally with beach clean-up initiatives, Hurrican Ian recovery, Sylvan Learning Center and Point in Time of Southwest Florida.
Kariana Ayala-Drew owns a 4.00 GPA as she pursues a major in Kinesiology and became the first ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year from Jacksonville in the sport of Volleyball. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native led the conference during the regular season with 5.03 digs per set during the regular season and was third with 493 total digs. She played in 98 of the Dolphins’ total 108 sets on the year and was named to the Jacksonville University President’s List. Her community service efforts include beach clean up, volunteer dog walking at Jacksonville Humane Society, volunteering at Jacksonville Youth Crisis Center and serving as a Spanish interpreter for Praying Pelican Missions.
Lena Kindermann helped guide Jacksonville State back to an ASUN Championship appearance in the program’s second season back in ASUN Volleyball. She led the Gamecocks and ranked second in the conference with 409 total kills while also coming in third for both kills per set (3.72) and hitting percentage (.335). Along with being a First Team All-Conference selection, she was also a member of the All-Academic Team, carrying a 4.00 GPA majoring in English. She also earned a selection to the College Sports Communicators’ 2022 Academic All-America Team. Serving as team captain for the past three seasons, the fifth-year senior has provided Volleyball lessons off the court and prepared meals for social work groups in her native home of Germany.
Kendall Higgs, a four-time All-Conference member (18, S21-22), started in 17 matches and ranked third on the squad with 1,290 minutes played. She helped Kennesaw State qualify for the ASUN Championship once again while carring a 4.00 GPA in Applied Stats and Analytics. The back-to-back All-Academic selection scored two goals and added a pair of assists, totaling six points (tied for third on the team). Higgs was tabbed 2022 Third Team All-Conference as well. Additionally, she’s helped at food pantries at Northstar, served as a pen pal with elementary students and was as an officer on SAAC.
Kyle Harkabus earned Second Team All-Conference honors after placing 14th at the ASUN Men’s Cross Country Championship for the second year in-a-row. Harkabus was recognized as an ASUN All-Academic honoree with a 3.64 GPA majoring in Sports Management. Harkabus was involved in several community service opportunities such as the Virginia 10 Miler, a back-to-school event at a local elementary school and volunteered with track meets and stadium cleanup after football games.
Men’s Soccer’s first-and-only five-time First Team All-Conference selection and three-time Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Lipscomb’s Noah Gulden was a force on the field, finishing his career with the most starts in ASUN history (83) while also serving as the Bisons’ program leader in assists (25). Working on his MBA with a 4.00 GPA, Gulden led the Bisons to its second-straight ASUN Regular-Season and Championship title in 2022 while earning recognition as the MAC Hermany Trophy Semifinalist and United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American at the conclusion of the season. Outside of competition, Gulden has been a member of the Men’s Soccer Leadership Team and has logged community service hours at Carter Lawrence and St. Bartholomew’s community soccer league.
Morgan Ebert carried a 4.00 GPA in Criminal Justice as a defender for North Alabama on the pitch. In 2022, she started all 18 games and logged 1,598 minutes while earning both ASUN All-Academic and Academic All-District honors. For her career, she started all 64 games. Ebert helped out in the Lion community at the United Way and as a Kilby School volunteer. She also spent time with a variety of other organizations including Lions Lend-a-Hand, Lions Buddy program, Lauderdale County Animal Shelter, Baptist Campus Ministry and Christmas Adopt-a-kid.
Mahalia White earned a selection to the All-Conference Second Team after helping North Florida make its ninth consecutive appearance in the ASUN Volleyball Championship. She led the ASUN in both points per set (4.49) and kills per set (4.10) with her kills average ending the season ranked 38th in the nation. During the season, she notched 21 double-digit kill performances, reached 20 kills on five occasions and posted 1,000 career kills in November. Here civic engagement activities this academic year included donations to the Child Cancer Fund (Pediatric Oncology) and working with food bank distribution over the holidays. Last summer, she was a volunteer for the Yolo Food Bank.
Jada Palmer started all 16 matches on the Royals’ defense and was one of two Queens student-athletes to play every minute of the season. The defender helped her team notch six shutouts in the Royals’ first Division I season. She exits the program with the sixth most minutes played in program history and was named to the College Sports Communicators’ Academic All-District Team in 2022. Palmer has a 3.99 GPA as an Exercise and Sports Science major with a minor in Spanish. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester at Queens, along with being a member of the Athletic Royals Society for maintaining a 4.00 GPA for 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
Jakob McConnell set a Stetson program 10K record in the NCAA Southeast Regionals (31:32.7) while finishing 71st, third best in program history. McConnell served as team captain for the Hatters’ men’s cross country squad this year while holding a 3.15 GPA in Accounting. He served on several committees including Stetson SAAC President, ASUN SAAC Rep and as a student rep on the Stetson University Athletic Committee. McConnell also was involved in many projects such as the canned food drive, Hurricane relief, diversity and inclusion campaign, mental health campaign, Adopt-an-Angel project with the Salvation Army for Christmas Time and Hattemy’s (Stetson Student-Athlete awards).