The award is named for Emil S. Liston, the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB), who also was the first executive secretary of the NAIA and a founder of the NAIA’s basketball championship. Both winners this year were nominated by the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC).
Samantha Kleinsasser, a basketball student-athlete and nursing major at Northwestern College (Iowa), is the female winner of the Emil S. Liston Award, which is awarded to an outstanding NAIA junior basketball player who maintains an overall grade-point average of at least a 3.5 (on a 4-point scale).
Kleinsasser has a 4.0 grade-point average and is first in the class at Northwestern College in numerous science courses taken by both nursing and pre-medicine majors. Her professors note that she is a superior student who also is a hard worker and a great leader by example. A post player, she was a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) honorable mention this year, as the Red Raiders advanced to the semifinals of the NAIA Division II National Women’s Basketball Championships. Kleinsasser also has been named a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American. She also has been generous with her time, taking an active role in leading student mission trips to Haiti and volunteering at a local women’s shelter.
“Even more impressive than her abilities on the court and in the classroom are Sam’s character and leadership abilities,” said Earl Woudstra, assistant athletics director and professor of kinesiology at Northwestern College. “She demonstrates the qualities of a servant leader—she leads with humility and by example.”
Nick Reed, a basketball student-athlete and exercise science major at Doane College (Neb.), is the male winner of the Liston Award.
A top student with a minor in biology and a guard on the men’s basketball team, Reed is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American. He averaged 16.6 points per game and shot 49 percent from the floor, and he was named NAIA All-American honorable mention. Reed also was team captain, and he served as a Doane Ambassador, working with the Doane College Admissions office to represent the college to prospective students.
“Nick is a fantastic team leader—someone I can always count on to be doing the right thing on and off the court,” said Jim Weeks, Doane College head men’s basketball coach. “He leads by example with his effort, intensity and determination.”