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Northwood wins 2018 DII Award of Excellence

School recognized for day of service inspired by former coach, athletics director

Former Northwood football coach and athletics director Pat Riepma was known for his keen ability to inspire people to action. Even after cancer took his life in 2015, that legacy persisted, serving as the catalyst for a campus-wide day of service last fall that benefited 36 organizations and hundreds of people around the community.

Northwood won the Division II Award of Excellence for its "Go M.A.D. Day," a campus-wide effort to give back to their community that was inspired by a former football coach and athletics director.

That “Go M.A.D. Day” at Northwood – named after Riepma’s motto, “Go make a difference” – was recognized on Saturday with the 2018 Division II Award of Excellence. The athletics department was honored during the Division II business session at the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. Northwood Dean of Student Affairs Andy Cripe and Athletics Director Dave Marsh accepted the award before a crowded room of Division II delegates.

“I wish everyone in this room would have had the chance to meet Pat Riepma,” Cripe told the crowd. “He used to tell us in staff meetings that we have some of the greatest jobs on Earth – we have the opportunity to make an impact on young people every single day. And he would say, ‘If that doesn’t get you jacked up, you’re in the wrong place.’

“It did get us jacked up,” Cripe added. “He brought us ‘Go M.A.D.,’ and our student-athletes and our students and Midland community have embraced that as their own.”

Nearly 350 student-athletes from all 18 varsity sports at Northwood participated in the Go M.A.D. event Nov. 3-4. Other students, faculty, staff, coaches and members of the Midland, Michigan, community also took part, for a total of 796 participants. Service acts included writing letters for Special Olympians, conducting a youth leadership program, cleaning up a local youth camp, working a food drive and preparing meal packets. The Northwood football team hosted 20 kids from the local Children’s Grief Center at their football game. And at halftime of that game, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee organized mini-scrimmages for four youth football teams. Northwood reports that 2,181 volunteer hours were logged over the two days.

The school will receive $1,500 for the award to support future community engagement initiatives. It also earned the opportunity to have a football or basketball game broadcast as part of the Division II regular season media agreement during the 2018-19 school year.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association won the runner-up prize of $1,250 for its celebration of the 125th Anniversary of black college football. The conference recognized the anniversary through national promotions, educational sessions and community engagement.

Daemen was named the third-place honoree and will receive $1,000 for its program serving families in Western New York’s special needs community. The Center for Allied and Unified Sport and Exercise was developed in 2016 to create new opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sports and other physical activities.

The Division II Award of Excellence, awarded for the fifth time in 2018, annually honors a Division II school for its campus and community engagement efforts. See the full list of this year’s finalists here.