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Gallaudet University's Jamal Garner honored with 2017-18 NEAC Inspirational Award

Jamal Garner passes a basketball. A NEAC logo is in the upper right hand corner.

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) announced its recipients of the 2017-18 NEAC Inspirational Award on Friday and Gallaudet University rising senior Jamal Garner (Jacksonville, Ill.) of the Bison men's basketball team was honored.

The Inspirational Award is given annually to a student-athlete, coach or administrator who has endured personal hardship that has led to bravery and dedication within athletics.

A center on the men’s basketball team, Garner spent much of his first two years on the squad seeing few minutes on the court. Despite a lack of playing time, the Jacksonville, Ill., native remained committed, continued to work hard and supported his teammates. During the 2017-18 season, Garner’s dedication paid off as he started all 26 games for the Bison and finished the season with 115 points, 137 rebounds, 21 steals and seven blocks.

Garner is a business major and has worked extremely hard to maintain his 3.27 cumulative GPA, proving high school teachers wrong that questioned his ability to attend college. He has also made in impact in the communities around him as he has initiated fraternities at Gallaudet and has worked at a camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children during the summer. Garner’s leadership has been a constant during his time at Gallaudet as he has also worked with campus security and for the tutoring center.

Gallaudet now has seven NEAC Inspirational Award honorees since it joined the conference in 2010-11.

Gallaudet's past honorees included former women's basketball head coach Kevin Cook (2010-11), women's swimmer Lisa van der Mark (2011-12), men's cross country runner Ivan Alfaro (2012-13), women's swimmer Taylor Mickelson (2015-16), women's swimmer Faye Frez-Albrecht (2016-17) and women's basketball player Lawjen Ashmore (2016-17).

"Jamal is more than a great person. He will go out of his way to help anyone regardless of who the person is. Everywhere he goes, he makes sure the people around him are being helped," said Gallaudet men's basketball coach Kevin Kovacs. "He is a living example of how to be the best person you can be from paper to action. He is always trying to be better be it in academics, basketball, job, volunteer or anything in the moment. That in itself is very inspiring to me and everyone else that appreciates those kind of traits."

Garner is a three-year letterwinner on the men's basketball team. In three seasons, he has compiled 126 points, 155 rebounds, 25 steals, 19 assists and eight blocks in 43 games (27 starts). He is also a two-year letterwinner on the Gallaudet men's track and field team (2016, '18) and lettered on the football team in 2016. 

Three other NEAC student-athletes were honored with the Inspirational Award this year including Lancaster Bible College's Kirsten Webster, Keuka College's Tyler Andrews and Morrisville State College's Cody Gaines.

Gallaudet's NEAC Inspirational Award Winners

2017-18: Jamal Garner (Men's Basketball)
2016-17: Lawjen Ashmore (Women's Basketball) & Faye Frez-Albrecht (Women's Swimming & Diving)
2015-16: Taylor Mickelson (Women's Swimming & Diving)

2012-13: Ivan Alfaro (Men's Cross Country)
2011-12: Lisa van der Mark (Women's Swimming & Diving)
2010-11: Kevin Cook (Women's Basketball)

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The NEAC Sports Information Office contributed to this release