The award is named for A.O. Duer, who served as executive secretary of the NAIA for 26 years and was well-known for his strong opinions that the NAIA and its member institutions should strive to effectively balance academics and athletics. The award is presented to an outstanding NAIA junior student-athlete who maintains an overall grade-point average of at least a 3.75 (on a 4-point scale). The NAIA Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives selects the two winners, one male and one female. Both winners this year were nominated by the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC).
Mitch Boshart, a football student-athlete and social science education major at Peru State College (Neb.), is the male winner of the Duer award.
Boshart is a Peru State College Board of Trustees scholar, a member of the college’s honors program and an NAIA Scholar-Athlete award winner. The three-year letter winner has been a two-year starter on special teams and is a Bobcat Football Elite Team Leader. Boshart also is a TeamMates mentor. In addition to participating in many community service events with his team and in his local community, Boshart has served as the sports information department's radio interviewer in conjunction with KNCY's Bobcat Buzz pre-recorded halftime segments.
“Mitch consistently demonstrates character and leadership in the various roles he fulfills on this campus,” said Dr. Judith Ruskamp, associate professor of education at Peru State College. “Likewise, his high energy and enthusiasm, his willingness to participate, his genuine appreciation of all ‘educational’ experiences, and his eagerness to contribute to the development and improvement of self, peers and community speak to the quality of Mitch’s character and leadership qualities.”
Kelsi Martin, a volleyball student-athlete and athletic training major at Graceland University (Iowa) is the female winner of the Duer award.
A four-year starter as a setter and hitter and a three-year captain, Martin is a three-time all-conference pick as well. Martin also is in the university’s honors program, and she also has attained her tremendous academic success while fulfilling extensive clinical requirements for the university’s athletic training program. Martin also is a board member of the Fellowship of Graceland Athletes and a representative to the university’s Academic Student Council. She also has traveled with Outreach International to do service work in Nicaragua.
“Kelsi encourages high performance from her teammates on the court as well as in their academics,” said Jessica Wallace, Graceland University assistant athletic trainer and teaching professional in the Graceland Division of Health and Movement Sciences. “She expects this of herself as well as her teammates, and her success at each help to movitate her teammates. Her experiences through extracurricular activities on campus also demonstrate the opportunities and strengths that many NAIA colleges and universities strive for.”