JCCC Stories

Athlete, leader, scholar and volunteer

January 30, 2016

JCCC’s Kendyl McDougald wins NJCAA award for excellence on and off the field.

When Kendyl McDougald, Johnson County Community College student-athlete, wasn’t practicing her javelin throws, she was studying. When she wasn’t studying, she was volunteering.

For her hard work, McDougald received the Lea Plarski Award from the National Junior College Athletic Association. The honor recognizes McDougald’s sportsmanship, leadership, community service and academic excellence as well as her athletic ability.

“I can’t begin to express how proud I am of Kendyl for winning this award,” said Johnson County throwing coach Phil Groves.

“I always want to be able to say three things about our student-athletes here at JCCC – they are great students, outstanding athletes and even better people,” he said. “I can’t think of any individual who better embodies those ideals.”

Focus on academics, community

McDougald grew up in Olpe, Kansas, a town of 500-plus people 10 miles south of Emporia. Because of her small-town upbringing, she learned the value of community and helping others.

“Coming from a small community, I have had the pleasure of serving alongside teammates, classmates and friends in various ways,” McDougald said. “During my second semester at JCCC, I participated in the Cavalier Leadership Development Program where (guest speaker) Mark Johnson quoted Jackie Robinson, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.’ This resonated in me.”

Throughout her time at JCCC, McDougald balanced her academics with volunteering and student involvement.

She concluded her honors program in the spring of 2015 semester with a 3.81 grade-point average (GPA) in 80 credit hours of work.

Honored by the NJCAA in June for her academic achievements, McDougald was one of just 741 student-athletes across the nation to receive the Superior Academic Achievement Award – the second-highest academic honor an individual can achieve in the association.

As an international and environmental studies major, her college affiliations and community work focused on a greener, better world, including:

  • A volunteer with Bridging the Gap – a non-profit organization focusing on making the Kansas City region more sustainable.
  • A participant in TREE JCCC, an event where volunteers planted trees throughout the JCCC campus.
  • A work-study student for the JCCC Center for Sustainability.
  • A volunteer for Stamp Out Hunger, a food drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
  • A volunteer serving food to the homeless while McDougald was studying abroad in Xi’an, China.

McDougald also traveled to Russia as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored exchange program for college students interested in environmental issues.

She’ll spend the next academic year in Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals.

“This cultural immersion program provides the opportunity to study, work and live abroad in a country that is called Europe’s green leader,” McDougald said.

All-American athlete

Despite the numerous accolades McDougald received off the field, she was just as exceptional on it. At the 2015 NJCAA Track & Field Championships, the sophomore claimed an individual title in the javelin throw – narrowly winning the event by four inches.

She also earned indoor second-team All-East Jayhawk Conference in the shot put with a runner-up finish, and outdoors was the conference champion and region runner-up in the javelin, which earned her first-team All-EJC and second-team All-Region VI.

“While earning that national championship was an amazing achievement in my athletic career,” she said, “the Lea Plarksi award goes one step further. To be recognized for more than athletics is a credit to the inspiring individuals I have had the opportunity to study, work, train and serve with here at the college and community.”

The award was named after former NJCAA President Lea Plarski as recognition of her tremendous service to the NJCAA and two-year college athletics. The award is been presented to an NJCAA student-athlete who exemplifies qualities Plarski valued.

For more about McDougald, including additional comments from her coaches, check out the press release about the award.