Kelly Ellison named recipient of NAIA Emil S. Liston Award
Excerpts from this article from Staci Schottman, NAIA Director of PR and Communications
KANSAS CITY -- Kelly Ellison's incredible two-year basketball career at Shorter University already includes two All-Conference honors, two NAIA All-America nods, a pair of Southern States Athletic Conference All-Academic selections, an NAIA Scholar-Athlete award and most recently, the distinction as the SSAC's 2011 Female Honor Student-Athlete.
On Thursday, Ellison added one more feather in her cap.
Ellison, Shorter's do-it-all junior point guard, was selected on Thursday by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as the 2011 female recipient of the prestigious Emil S. Liston Award.
The Emil S. Liston Award is given annually by the NAIA and Daktronics and recognizes one male and one female basketball player based on scholarship, character and playing ability. Since 1950, the award has honored the memory of Emil S. Liston, the NAIA's first executive director and the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB).
"I am pleased to welcome Kelly into the distinguished group of Emil S. Liston Award honorees," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. "Her ability to balance a full academic and athletic load with tremendous success is impressive."
Ellison was selected by the NAIA Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives from a field that included nominees from numerous NAIA member institutions. Shorter will receive a $1,000 scholarship award from Daktronics in Ellison's name.
Ellison becomes the third Lady Hawk to win the Emil S. Liston award. Karen Pittman was Shorter's first recipient of the honor in 1996 and Whitni Tucker garnered the award in 2010.
"This award is a tremendous compliment to Kelly because she is a very deserving recipient much like Whitni and Karen were," said Shorter head women's basketball coach Vic Mitchell. "For all of her athletic ability, Kelly is truly a complete person. She is a 4.0 student in the classroom, an All-American on the court and remains very involved in the community.
"Kelly is the epitome of what this award represents."
Ellison, a business major who hails from Columbus, Ga., and will compete in her senior season with the Lady Hawks in 2011-12, has already left a lasting impression on campus.
"Kelly's influence on the campus and the entire Rome community reaches far beyond the results from her talents on the basketball court," said Mitchell. "Her everyday actions make her a glowing example of the NAIA's five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership."
On the court, Ellison has guided the Lady Hawks to two straight appearances in the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship while leading Shorter in scoring, assists and steals over the past two seasons.
Entering her final season, Ellison is 330 points away from 1,000 for her Shorter career -- she played her freshman season at NCAA Division I Stetson University before transferring to Shorter in the summer of 2009 -- and has career averages of 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals a game.
Her leadership and performance has earned her multiple All-SSAC, NAIA All-America and SSAC All-Academic honors, which all culminated with her selection as the SSAC's Female Honor Student-Athlete last month -- the highest honor bestowed upon a student-athlete in the SSAC.
Ellison was the third consecutive student-athlete from Shorter to earn that honor, following in the footsteps of former Shorter softball standout Becca Thomas (2009) and Tucker (2010).
Ellison is a proven star off the court as well.
She is a member of the National Honor Society (Alpha Chi), the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and a consistent volunteer at the Open Door Home, the Community Kitchen and as a mentor at Rome Middle School.
Ellison spends her summers with her former AAU basketball team as a volunteer coach and this summer is playing basketball in Italy while representing the United States as a member of the American International Sports National Team.
The acquisition of such a prestigious national honor is proof that the NAIA recognizes Ellison's talents in both the academic and athletic realms -- characteristics that make Ellison an ideal recipient of the Emil S. Liston Award.
"Kelly has all of the qualities that you look for in a player and has earned every honor that she has received for her athletic ability," Mitchell said. "With the SSAC Honor Student-Athlete Award and now the NAIA Emil S. Liston Award, Kelly is not only being recognized for her athletic talent, but also for the things she does in the classroom and off the court on a conference and national level.
"This is a great honor for Kelly and for our program."