GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – The North Eastern Athletic Conference announced its Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award winners for the 2011-12 academic year and Gallaudet University junior swimmer Lisa van der Mark (Mijnsheerenland, The Netherlands) was selected as one of three recipients of the Inspirational Award.
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. Van der Mark Shares the award with Penn St.-Abington women’s lacrosse player Shreya Soni and SUNYIT women’s basketball player Sarah Couvillon. The Sportsmanship Award was presented to Penn St.- Abington women’s tennis player Kimberly Ochester and College of St. Elizabeth swimmer Shannon Tipton. Former Gallaudet women's basketball coach Kevin Cook was the 2010-11 Inspirational Award recipient.
Below is an excerpt from van der Mark’s nomination letter:
Lisa van der Mark has been selected to receive the NEAC Inspirational Award for her perseverance both in the classroom and the pool at Gallaudet University despite her personal hardships. Lisa, who is deaf and legally blind, has Ushers Syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that is a leading cause of deaf blindness due to a mutation of any of 10 genes. This is an incurable disease. Lisa has not allowed her personal setback to stop her from excelling in the classroom and with the Gallaudet women’s swimming team. She was named to the NEAC All-Academic team for the 2011-12 season and helped the Bison women’s swimming team place third overall at the conference championship.
She finished fifth overall in the 400 yard IM at the 2011 12 NEAC Swimming & Diving Championships. She was also a part of several team relays for the Bison this past year. Former head coach and current Coordinator of Swimming Operations Bill Snape calls Lisa a “big contributor to the team in all of the hard events.”
“She just has a lovely attitude and is all about her team and is well liked among her teammates,” Snape added. “And she is super smart!”