WASHINGTON, D.C. – The California Community College Athletic Association has been represented well at this week’s National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and Affiliates Convention at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, receiving awards that recognize excellence by deserving individual and colleges in the association.
Dr. Jennifer Burleson, Interim Dean of Counseling at Mt. San Jacinto College, was selected as the Region V winner of the Professional Excellence Award by the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professional (N4A) and was recognized for her honor earlier this week.
According to the criteria, the award is presented to one individual from each of the organization’s five regions who shows commitment beyond their job description, is committed to improving their department, shows the ability to meet student needs and address critical issues within athletics and/or the campus, is viewed as a leader and/or mentor among their colleagues, is involved with the N4A both regionally and nationally, and is well-respected within the industry.
Dr. Burleson, a former All-America softball player at Ohio State, was previously on the athletics staff as an graduate assistant/advisor at Cal State Fullerton beginning in 2003 before later joining the staff at Mt. San Antonio College and eventually Mt. San Jacinto. In her current role, she provides academic counseling for all Mt. San Jacinto student-athletes.
Ventura College Athletics Director Will Cowen was honored this week as a winner of the Under Armour AD of the Year by NACDA, presented to just 28 athletics directors at every level of college athletics, from NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision to two-year colleges. The honor, announced on March 5, highlighted Cowen’s distinguished career at Ventura that has spanned roles as an assistant football and head men’s basketball coach, and many program-wide accomplishments during his role as an athletics administrator.
Former West Hills-Coalinga College football standout Apefai Taifane, named earlier this year as the CCCAA Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was honored by the National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) Thursday alongside El Camino College softball star Brigid Antonelli as the organization’s Scholar-Athlete Award winners.
Taifane, who is now a member of the football team at Cal Poly, was a 4.0 GPA student-athlete at West Hills where he excelled in the classroom and as an offensive lineman on the Falcons’ football squad. He was an All-Golden Coast Conference honoree and West Hill’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Antonelli also earned a 4.0 GPA, completing coursework as a nursing and general studies double major. She was a two-time All-South Coast Conference and all-region honoree and had a career batting average of .373. She received a softball scholarship to Cumberland University in Tennessee.
Finally, Mt. San Antonio College received its award as winner of the NATYCAA Cup as the most successful CCCAA athletics program for the 2017-18 year. The Mounties, who have won the award six consecutive years, also finished first in the state associations division for NATYCAA as well as third in the Learfield Cup, which encompasses all community colleges in the country. Nine of the top 10 teams in NATYCAA’s State Association race hail from the CCCAA, including the top nine.