Two College of the Ozarks Athletes receive honors from the National Christian College Athletic Association.
College of the Ozarks Bobcats’ baseball pitcher Sean Neal has been named as a 2020 Scholar Athlete by the NCCAA.
Neal is a junior southpaw, who pitched 25 innings for the Bobcats this shortened season over a series of eight games. He recorded two strong back-to-back starting performances in late February against Waldorf University (Iowa) and Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.), where he gave up no earned runs in either game, striking out a total of 11 batters. Neal also entered two games in relief on either side of these strong starts in which he allowed no earned runs.
Neal’s commitment to excellence is not limited to the baseball field. Throughout the season, he has also dedicated himself to excellence in the classroom.
In order to be named an NCCAA Scholar Athlete, a student-athlete must be of junior or senior academic status, be an active member of the team, and hold an overall GPA of 3.4. This is a challenging task for all student-athletes, but especially for College of the Ozarks’ students. In addition to the rigor of the classroom, homework, and the time allocated for practice, travel, and games, C of O student-athletes are also required to work 15 hours per week in an on-campus job.
Head Coach Neale Richardson commented, “We are proud of Sean for his hard work in the classroom and on the mound.”
Meanwhile, College of the Ozarks Bobcat high jumper Kyle Kapella (Hollister, Mo.) was named on May 8, 2020, as the 2020 NCCAA Wheeler Award recipient.
Kapella has had success at previous NCCAA Men’s Track & Field National Championships and was hoping to compete at the 2020 event before it was cancelled due to COVID-19. At the 2018 NCCAA Championship, Kapella earned All-American status in the high jump as he reached 1.98m for a second-place finish. His personal high jump record of 2.00m was achieved at the 2019 Harding Invitational.
The senior has been an exceptional leader for the Bobcats’ track program and on campus. Kapella pursues excellence in all he does, and he challenges his teammates and coaches to do the same. Team awards he has received include Most Improved Athlete, Top Performing Athlete, and the Bobcat Award which is the top award for the team, given to the athlete that best represents the program in the classroom, in competition, and in the community.
Off the track, Kapella is very active in serving the community. Community service events and programs he has participated in include Operation Christmas Child, Night to Shine, Veterans Day (Honor Guard), Point Lookout Fire Department (Senior Firefighter & Color Guard), and Honor Flight of the Ozarks (Guardian). Kapella also served on an educational mission trip to Belize in 2019. In the classroom, Kapella holds a 3.49 GPA in biology and has earned academic honors of Athletic Director Honor Roll, Dean’s List, and NCCAA Scholar-Athlete.
The recipient of the Wheeler Award must be a junior or senior member of an NCCAA institution, who is in good academic standing, possesses a vital Christian testimony both on and off the course, exhibits outstanding leadership qualities, including Christian service activities, and is highly skilled in track and field.
“Kyle is an amazing young man, who is always willing to serve others,” said Head Coach McKenzie Larkin. “He’s a servant-leader and has greatly influenced his teammates throughout his time at College of the Ozarks.”
Scholar Athletes were also recognized by the NCCAA this week, Track and field members Garrett Pierce and Kyle Kapella each were recognized for holding a 3.4 or greater GPA.