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Athletes of Distinction

Lea Plarski Award
Elgin women's basketball player Cassie Dumoulin earns 2012 Plarski Award

For her dedicated commitment to athletics, academics and community service, Elgin Community College (Ill.) women’s basketball player Cassie Dumoulin was recognized by the NJCAA as the 2012 Lea Plarski Award recipient. The Plarski Award is presented annually to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the core values that are promoted by the NJCAA.

“It means a great deal to me,” Dumoulin said. “It’s a very elite award and it’s a testament to all the people who have made an impact in my life and made me who I am today. I’m completely honored to win an award named after a woman that has done so much for athletics and made it possible for me to continue my athletic career. Words just can’t express how awesome it is.”

“This is as proud as I’ve been as a head coach for any player,” said Elgin women’s basketball head coach Jerry McLaughlin. “This is special because it’s an award that embodies academic achievement, athletic achievement, volunteer work, community service and leadership on and off the floor.”

On the basketball court, Dumoulin was a floor general for the Spartans the past two seasons. As a freshman, Dumoulin ranked fourth in Division II in scoring with 22.9 points per game and was a NJCAA third team All-American selection. Dumoulin ranked fifth in DII in scoring with 22.0 points per game and was a NJCAA second team All-American during her sophomore campaign. The two-time Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year finished her career with 1,393 points. Dumoulin is the only basketball player, male or female, to score 1,000 career points in Elgin history.

“The best part of her is her focus and leadership on and off the floor,” McLaughlin said. “She’s so coachable and is the epitome of a student-athlete. Everything was always even-keeled with her. You could never tell if we were up by 10 or down by 10. She always had the same demeanor and coachable attitude for two-straight years.”

Impressing McLaughlin more than her athletic abilities was Dumoulin’s leadership and sportsmanship – two cornerstones of the Plarski Award.

“She would be the leader from the beginning of the game to the end,” McLaughlin said. “She always led by example, never made excuses, looked at a referee wrong or blamed opposing players. In warm-ups, she’d always say hello to the opposing coach and referees. Her focus on trying to win the right way sticks out in my mind.”

Off the court, Dumoulin was able to translate her success to the classroom where she earned a 4.0 grade-point average and membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. With aspirations of becoming an engineer, Dumoulin challenged herself academically with a laborious load of difficult math and science courses that many student-athletes would steer away from.

“It’s all about time management,” Dumoulin said. “Having the support of my family that has always allowed me to do everything I’ve wanted to do has a lot to do with it. Without them, I wouldn’t be comfortable in tackling that busy of a schedule.”

Despite enduring a congested agenda between basketball and class, Dumoulin still found time in her day to give back to the community. Dumoulin was involved in several community service projects throughout her time at Elgin including American Cancer Relay for Life, Feed My Starving Children and the basketball team’s fundraiser for The V Foundation.

“It is so important to give back to your community,” Dumoulin said. “Everyone is given gifts and talents that you’re supposed to use and not just for yourself, but also to help others. There are certain things that I am able to do and it’s only right for me to share them with others.”

“In my 30 years of coaching, she’s been the most outstanding person to go out in the community and always volunteer wherever she was needed,” McLaughlin said. “Her commitment to the community is a reflection of her parents, grandparents and the way she was brought up. Her whole family is very humble. They all have the same kind of attitude towards community service, church and family.”

Dumoulin will move on to the University of Illinois this fall where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. With a successful background and a bright future ahead, Dumoulin exhibits everything that the NJCAA strives to instill in its student-athletes.

“The best compliment I’ve ever heard from people is that as great as an athlete she is and as great as a student she is, she’s an even better human being,” McLaughlin said. “That is the best compliment you could ever give a person. If you transcend just being a student-athlete and are a great human being, that shows what you’re all about.”

The NJCAA’s Lea Plarski Award is handed out annually in the name of former NJCAA President Lea Plarski as recognition of her tremendous service to the NJCAA and two-year college athletics. The former director of athletics at St. Louis Community College/Florissant Valley, Plarski helped to establish the Women’s Division of the NJCAA in 1975.  She served as Vice-President for Women from 1975-1990 when she made NJCAA history as the first female ever elected to the office of President, a position she held from 1990-1996. In honor of her numerous accomplishments, as well as her undeniable dedication to the student-athlete, the NJCAA Lea Plarski Award was created.  Since 1995, the award has been presented to an NJCAA student-athlete who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence, athletic ability and achievements – qualities that were the cornerstones of the Plarski “era”.

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is the governing body of two-year college athletics, offering endless athletic and academic opportunities to college students. It is the second largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states. Each year over 50,000 student-athletes compete in one of 28 different sports and the organization sponsors 48 national championship events and nine football bowl games each year. For more visit www.njcaa.org.


Year Name School
 2011-12   Cassie Dumoulin  Elgin CC, Ill.
 2010-11    Abby Barnett  Bevill State CC, Ala.
 2009-10   Jocelyn Fischer  Adirondack CC, N.Y.
 2008-09   Geofrey Kalanzi  Dakota County Tech, Minn.
 2007-08   Christopher Glaze  Jones County JC, Miss.
 2006-07   Angela Verbeelen  Florida CC
 2005-06   Patrick Lepper  John Wood CC, Ill.
 2004-05   Kayla Shaul  Daytona Beach CC, Fla.
 2003-04   Theresa Berry  Bevill State CC-Fayette, Ala.
 2002-03   Melanie Mendrop  Hinds CC, Miss.
 2001-02   Jermaine Harris  Georgia Military College
 2000-01   Mindy Madewell  Connors State College, Okla. 
 1999-00   Larry Scheller  Belleville Area CC, Ill.
 1998-99   Sarah Wood  St. Louis CC-Meramec, Mo.
 1997-98   Douglas Bates
 Terra Sarnacki-Royer 
 Pensacola JC, Fla.
 SUNY-Cobleskill, N.Y. 
 1996-97   George Russell Sanders 
 Amy Lucas 
 Jones County JC, Miss.
 Middle Georga College 
 1995-96   John Combs
 Amy Parker 
 Lees College, Ky.
 Jones County JC, Miss. 


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