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June 12, 2006

ULM's Willson receives CoSIDA's Bob Kenworthy Award

Judy Willson, director of media relations for the University of Louisiana at Monroe Athletics Department, is the 2006 winner of the Bob Kenworthy Award.

College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) will present Willson with the award at their annual convention July 3 in Nashville, Tenn.

CoSIDA is recognizing Willson for her "civic involvement and accomplishments outside of the sports information office." And for Willson, that involvement began at home.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region and was followed quickly in the Louisiana and Texas area by Hurricane Rita, people throughout the country wondered how they could help.

Willson answered the question.

In addition to her work for the fall semester, Judy contacted 29 Sports Information Directors (SIDs) who had been affected by the storm, some of whom lost everything to Katrina.

The Kenworthy Award is named for Bob Kenworthy, former Sports Information Director at Gettysburg College, who was respected for his contributions to his community beyond his work.

"Knowing Bob as I do," wrote Union College's Eric McDowell in his nomination of Willson, "I know he would be proud for Judy to receive this award."

McDowell went on to mention Willson's service to the national organization as a member of the board and a tireless worker, and added, "Yet, her heart and soul truly showed this past fall."

Willson not only opened her home for three weeks to visitors from the coast, but she spearheaded a fund-raising drive that gathered almost $10,000. She encouraged the CoSIDA board to contribute almost $45,000 more in gift cards, with the funds going directly to the affected SIDs.

"Sure, many national organizations would provide funds to those in need during a crisis of this nature," wrote McDowell. "Yet, how many would have a member who would consider targeting funds directly to her fellow members?

Considering that many were young people with low incomes, including interns, this was a huge boost for them. One young SID's spouse even gave birth during the hurricane. We can only imagine the impact that these funds provided to that couple."

Willson was familiar with the area stricken by Katrina, having lived in New Orleans from 2000 through 2004 when she served as Assistant Commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference.

An at-large member serving her fourth year on the CoSIDA Board, Willson began her career while serving as a student assistant at her alma mater, Geneva College. She has held other full-time positions at the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association, Eastern New Mexico, the Lone Star Conference and the University of Denver.

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