HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker College Athletic Department has been selected as the winner of the NCAA Division II Award of Excellence for the South Atlantic Conference, the NCAA recently announced.
Division II honors its members each year for conducting events that exemplify any of the six Division II attributes: learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service.
Coker was one of 20 schools that were named finalists for the 2019 Division II Award of Excellence, an accolade recognizing campus and community engagement initiatives taken on in the past year.
The Cobra men's lacrosse team was recognized for its participation in a Food Recovery Network. The men's lacrosse team partnered with Sodexo, Coker's dining service, to re-establish the school's chapter with the National Food Recovery Network, a program that works to fight food waste and feed those in need through food recovery.
"We are very excited and honored to receive this very prestigious honor," said Coker's Vice President of Athletics and Athletic Facilities, Dr. Lynn Griffin. "All of our student-athletes and coaches have been working hard to be engaged in the Coker and Hartsville communities, especially our men's lacrosse program. Their involvement in re-establishing the Food Recovery Network has been phenomenal."
Studies have found that 30% – 40% of food produced in the United States is ultimately thrown away. As a marketing intern with Sodexo, Coker College's food service provider, business administration major Cole Theodoropoulos ('18 from Orlando, Fla.) noticed that plenty of good food ended up in the trash cans at the end of the day. He approached Sodexo general manager Rick Gant about finding some way to put the leftover food to good use. "Our goal is to not only help with hunger relief in the community, but to stay committed to reducing the large volume of food waste," stated Gant. About one-third of food in the industry ends up in the landfill. Many thanks to the members of the men's lacrosse team for all of their help in making this possible."
Gant had wanted to revive Coker's Food Recovery Network (FRN) partnership with the local soup kitchen at Wesley United Methodist Church. Cole, along with a couple of his teammates on the men's lacrosse team, helped restart Coker's FRN partnership and, with Gant's help, saw that Coker College was Food Recovery Network verified. The Wesley United Methodist Church's soup kitchen serves a hot meal every Monday-Thursday from 11am-12pm, even on holidays. Since its opening in 1998, the soup kitchen has served over 100,000 individuals in the Hartsville community.
For a full list of 2019 NCAA Division II Award of Excellence finalists, click here.