When COVID-19 shut down all University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo athletic events from March to December 2020, Vulcan teams kept active by serving the Hawaiʻi Island community.
Local groups noticed, and so did the NCAA. On January 5, they honored the Vulcans with the Award of Excellence.
Twenty-eight schools and one conference were named finalists for the 2021 Division II Award of Excellence. A finalist was chosen from each of the division’s 23 conferences. Six additional finalists were picked as at-large honorees for submitting a strong nomination that was not chosen as the finalist for their conference. A national winner will be selected from the finalists on January 15.
The Vulcans and Concordia (California) were both selected from the Pacific West Conference.
Through a partnership with the California and Hawaii Foliage Growers, UH Hilo student-athletes and coaches picked and harvested more than 15,000 ears of corn. They also cooked breakfast at a recovery home, harvested coffee beans, drew attention to mental health, rallied students to vote and helped at a local food basket.
More about the award
Division II honors its members each year for conducting events that promote student-athletes giving back and serving as leaders within their communities or on their campuses.
The national winner, runner-up and second runner-up will all receive cash prizes. The Vulcans are already guaranteed $500 as a finalist, to be used in a future community service project. The national winner will receive $2,500, the runner-up $1,250 and the second runner-up will earn $1,000.
A committee of athletics administrators determined this year’s finalists, and the national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee selects the winner, who will be announced at the Division II business session January 15 at the virtual 2021 NCAA Convention.
—By Russ Blunck