May 7. EVERY year for the past 24 years, the Honda Awards Program has been honoring top female collegiate athletes. This year, Davidson junior swimmer Kendra Berner has been named the Honda Inspiration Award winner.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc., sponsor of the Honda Awards Program, annually recognizes the top Division I woman collegiate athlete in each of 12 sports, as well as acknowledging the top women collegiate athletes representing Division II and Division III. This year, Misty Hyman was recognized as the nation's top female swimmer.
Over the last 12 years, the Honda Awards Program has also recognized several individuals who have been an inspiration to those around them with the Honda Inspiration Award.
The Inspiration Award is intended to honor a woman student-athlete who, by her perseverance, commitment and dedication, has overcome personal adversity or disability, or has undergone extraordinary personal sacrifice while achieving recognizable success in women's collegiate athletics.
Berner, a native of Lake Bluff, Ill., was born with a congenital deformation of her right hand. She utilizes a training paddle, cut to the size and shape of her left hand when competing in the pool.
The 2000-01 season had been an exciting one for Berner. This past summer, she qualified for five events in the Paralympics (held in conjunction with the Olympics). Disabilities were split into ten categories from S1 to S10 with S1 considered the most disabled. Berner was placed in the S10 category. At the Paralympics in Australia in October, Berner accumulated four silver medals: 400 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 50 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay. In the 50 freestyle, she finished 0.39 seconds behind the winner who set a new world record.
Back at Davidson, Berner swam the fastest time for the 50 freestyle this season by a Wildcat at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships. Her time of 24.86 seconds stands as the second fastest in school history. Also at the CAAs, she recorded the best time this year by a Davidson swimmer, and the third fastest in school history, in the 200 freestyle. Over her three-year career, Berner has been a member of three Wildcat record-setting relay teams.
"Kendra's achievements are shining examples of personal commitment and dedication," stated Davidson Director of Athletics Jim Murphy. "We are extremely proud of Kendra, and the Honda Inspiration Award is a fitting tribute to her efforts on behalf of Davidson College through our swimming program and the United States through the Paralympics. More importantly, this award highlights Kendra's character, strength, charisma and leadership as she sweeps us all forward with her intense focus on reaching her goals."
Berner, along with the 14 other recipients of the program, will be honored at the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Banquet held at the Grand America Hotel in June in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Previous Honda Inspiration Award Winners
1987-88 — Marie Roethlisberger, Univ. of Minnesota
1988-89 — Angie Jacobs, Univ. of California, Berkeley
1989-90 — Jill Robertson, Montclair State College
1990-91 — Tracy Nichols, Vassar College
1991-92 — Heather Stepp, Univ. of Georgia
1992-93 — Jennifer Mead, Providence College
1993-94 — Haley Scott, Univ. of Notre Dame
1994-95 — Allyssa Johnson, Arizona State Univ.
1995-96 — Corinne Carson, Marymount Univ.
1997-98 — Heidi Anderson, Bentley College
1998-99 — Jeni Jones, Univ. of Florida
1999-2000 — Johanna Olson, Luther College
2000-01 — Kendra Berner, Davidson College
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