SportsPigskin Club of Washington celebrates academic and athletic achievements

Pigskin Club of Washington celebrates academic and athletic achievements

Through the 85 years, the Pigskin Club of Washington has evolved from honoring football only, to adding other sports, then dividing the awards banquet into the fall and spring, and finally acknowledging academic achievements and contributors to the community.

A.B. Williamson is a past president of the Pigskin Club who has seen the transformation up close and personal. He is a former educator and highly successful basketball coach both at Eastern High School and Howard University before becoming the University’s first Director of Compliance of Athletics.

“Any organization that has success has to go through some transformation,” said Williamson. “When we decided to revamp the organization to include sports other than football and make two separate awards banquets, it was myself and Art Linder who thought that it would be the best thing at that time. Then we added the academic piece. There were a lot of things that I saw and experienced in academics and athletics that brought that about.”

At this year’s awards ceremony at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden on Friday, May 24, there were a total of 53 athletes, coaches and community service honorees. Of the total of 32 senior student-athletes, 24 of them were honored based on their grade point averages (GPAs).

Among those in attendance was Keishia Thorpe, who was the guest of community service honoree. Thorpe holds the distinction of being named Global Teacher of the Year in 2021, making her the only American named at the time and the first African American.

She teaches English at the International High School at Langley Park in Bladensburg, Maryland and was selected from more than 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world, according to the Varkey Foundation that organizes the annual prize. 

Thorpe has also been inducted into the USA National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) and the highly respected educator is a former standout in track and field at Howard University.

“It is so important that the Pigskin Club is promoting academics,” explained Thorpe, a native of Jamaica. “Oftentimes, the athletes put such an emphasis on performing at their specific sports that the academic piece is overlooked or taken for granted. The presentation of awards for academics indicates a level of inclusion for the student-athletes that carries over into their lives long after the athletics are gone.”

Olivia Waymer was one of the recipients of the academic achievement award. A senior at the School Without Walls, Waymer was named to the Pigskin Club All Met team after being District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) champion in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

“When the official from the Pigskin Club reached out to request my transcript, I was surprised,” said Ejiko, who will major in computer engineering and minor in economics. “I did not know what it was about. Later I found out that I was going to get an academic award and that was a big deal for me.  It shows that there are people out there who appreciate what we athletes do in the classroom.”  

“I couldn’t believe it at first when I heard that I would be receiving the award,” said Waymer, who is headed to Elon University.  “I was excited and grateful at the same time. As a young athlete, I sort of fell into track and field. I always knew how important academics are. Then I realized that I could be good in track. It is hard work maintaining both. It is not easy to maintain that balance. That is why it is so good to be recognized by the Pigskin Club for our hard work in the classroom.”

Waymer plans to major in psychology and minor in teacher education and to later pursue her PHD.

Ayotunde Ejiko was also a dual recipient of the All Met an Academic awards. The senior sprinter is headed to Cornell where he will run track.

 “I received awards for track and field and for being named to the honor roll. So to receive that award before my fellow peers was really special,” Ejiko, who had a 3.8 GPA, told The Informer.

All the academic awardees were seniors and there were three levels of GPAs: 2.7 to 2.9 GPA (Good), 3.0 to 3.9 (Outstanding) and 4.0 (Excellent).  Seven students were in the good category, 11 in the outstanding, and four were considered excellent.

“Having the three different levels is important,” commented Thorpe. “It is healthy for promoting excellence.”

The number of academic awardees was especially impressive and there were more Black male recipients than at any time in the past.

“That’s very encouraging,’ said Pigskin Spring Sports Chairman Lou Wilson. “We did a much better job of getting all the necessary documentation submitted for consideration. It definitely made a difference.”

Source: Washington Informer


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