You are here

NCAA Selects 2015 Walter Byers Scholarship winners

Two athletes will receive $24,000 renewable postgraduate scholarship

The NCAA has selected Lucinda Kauffman, a field hockey player from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and Tofey James “T.J.” Leon IV, a swimmer from Auburn University, to receive the 2015 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. Each student-athlete will receive a renewable $24,000 award.

Established in 1988, the scholarship honors the contributions of former NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Recipients must demonstrate both academic and athletic excellence and have a grade-point average of least a 3.5. They also must show leadership abilities and demonstrate that involvement in athletics has promoted their growth both personally and academically. The scholarship is presented each year to one female and one male student-athlete.

Lucinda Kauffman

Kauffman, of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, was a biology major who plans to become a doctor of optometry. She was on the 2013 NCAA Division II field hockey championship team and was named the 2014 USA Field Hockey Division II Player of the Year.

Finishing her undergraduate studies with a 3.9 GPA, Kauffman was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete three consecutive years. Additionally, she received the NCAA Elite 89 Award – given to the student-athlete who has the highest GPA at an NCAA championship site – as well as the PSAC Champion Scholar Award.

Like her fellow Byers scholar, Kauffman devoted much of her free time to helping better her community and believes volunteering is one of the most important aspects of her life.

“It teaches you a lot about your community and kind of a lot about yourself that you don’t even know,” Kauffman said. “You learn different things about yourself and about other people that you wouldn’t learn other places and then you can help so many people.

“It’s neat to know that we can have such an impact on other people by just giving a little bit of our time.”

Kauffman was involved with the Shippensburg Honors Program, mentoring students and helping them with their studying strategies.

Kauffman was also involved with the Make-A-Wish Committee in Shippensburg, where she assisted in fundraising activities. She also spent time volunteering with the Better Days Animal League, where she cared for animals.

Kauffman said field hockey not only taught her about her physical limits on the field but also how much she is prepared for life after college.

“I think it teaches you great qualities, like leadership and teamwork,” Kauffman said. “It’s given me so many different opportunities outside of field hockey. It’s just opened the door for so many different things. And being a student-athlete has taught me how to balance the multiple aspects of life, allowing me to be successful on the field and off.”

Tofey James “T.J.” Leon IV

Leon, of Mobile, Alabama, was a biomedical science major at Auburn and hopes to pursue a medical degree. He won the Cliff Hare Award, which is the highest honor an Auburn athlete can receive, and was a five-time NCAA All-American. He also was  captain of the Auburn swimming team.

“The most important thing that I’ve gained from my years of swimming is developing the ability or the desire to never be satisfied,” Leon said. “You put in hours and hours of work and you don’t always necessarily achieve your goals the way you wanted to, things don’t always necessarily go according to plan and in those instances you can either throw in the towel or you can try to regroup and reassess and try to figure out how to do better next time and go from there. “

Leon qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

In addition to his achievements in the pool and classroom, Leon was extensively involved in his community, even making a medical mission trip to Africa.

“It’s one thing to see a commercial on TV or hear from someone else about the need there is in the world and the suffering that exists, but to actually see it first-hand was the most powerful motivator for me in sort of shaping what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Leon said. “It was then that I decided I wanted to be a doctor.”

He volunteered at a medical clinic, where he was responsible for admitting patients and aiding with their prescriptions, which helped him with his undergraduate path of biomedical science.

Also, Leon put his swimming skills to good use by being an active member of the Auburn Tiger Kids program. With the help of his teammates, he would spend two afternoons each week swimming and playing with children with mental or physical disabilities.