Howard’s Woods wins 2020 Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award

By The Sports Pulse Staff

WASHINGTON – During the 2020 ESPY Awards (June 21), former tennis champion and social activist Billie Jean King announced this year’s Youth Leadership Award winners where Howard University’s rising junior Niah Woods (Cincinnati) took home the prestigious award.

The Cincinnati native was one of seven winners acknowledged for their dedication in their respective communities.

Along with the other award winners, Woods will receive either a one-time $10,000 college scholarship or direct a grant to an eligible nonprofit aligned with their work. Among the other recipients is American University’s Elijah Murphy, the son of HU Hall of Famer Deborah Murphy from the women’s track & field program.

“I am extremely blessed and highly favored to receive this award,” said Woods. “Being recognized by someone who has had such a great impact in the world of sports is unbelievable.”

The Grassroot Project (TPG) capitalizes on the excitement, relatability, and popularity of sports to provide much-needed health literacy and social empowerment programs to D.C. teens. The program invests in leadership training, cultural competency, and professional skills.

“The Grassroot Project has impacted my life for the better,” Woods continued. “To be surrounded by a group of people who want to make an impact on people’s lives is truly incredible. This organization has helped shape what I desire to be in my future, it has also given me another reason to smile every day.”

Woods joins her Bison family and other student-athletes and teens in the D.C. area to make The District a healthier city. After one semester, she was named head volunteer.

“We are so proud of Niah,” said Howard Director of Athletics Kery Davis. “She exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete in competition and academically while giving back to the community. She has a bright future ahead of her.”

Woods is a two-sport student-athlete at The Mecca, serving as a member of the women’s basketball team and women’s track & field team. The psychology major with a double minor in chemistry and sociology chose HU because of its HBCU culture. After graduation, she plans to be a psychiatrist and have her own practice firm.

Recently, Woods was named to the 2020 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner’s All-Academic Team.

“I am learning every day like the kids that I am teaching,” Woods concluded. “The work is truly outstanding, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Sports Humanitarian Awards, normally separate from the ESPY Awards, were combined as part of one virtual celebration on the night.

The show was broadcasted on television nationwide throughout the U.S., hosted by WNBA Champion and Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, Olympic Gold Medalist and OL Reign wing Megan Rapinoe and Super Bowl Champion and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

About the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award

The highly competitive nomination process for the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award selects and rewards young people for their leadership and commitment to improve their communities through sport. The selected nominees must: demonstrate how they are using the power of sport as a catalyst for change within their local school or community; be passionate and committed to empowering the community in which he/she/they live; deliver social impact showcasing how his/her/their community has been positively impacted; embody confidence and enthusiasm as a leader and have strong moral character; and personify exemplary leadership qualities on and off the field/court.

About the Grassroot Project

The Grassroot Project (TGP) is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization that uses the power of sport to advance health equity for DC youth and their communities through NCAA athlete-driven health programs. These programs focus on topics surrounding sexual health, nutrition, and mental health in a three-year pipeline for middle school students facilitated by volunteers from American University, Georgetown University, Howard University, and George Washington University.

Get to know Silver Spring native, Bison midfielder Andres Gomez

Q+A with Howard University rising senior midfielder Andres Gomes

By Howard University rising senior Carolyn Williams

Q: What’s your favorite part about soccer?

A: Soccer is a sport that’s not forgiving, which is my favorite part. The amount of effort put in behind-the-scenes is the same amount you’ll see on game day. You’ll reach your full potential if you put in the time and work.

Q: How did you get started playing soccer?

A: Well, a key part of Colombian culture is soccer. So, I grew up watching the World Cup and the Champions League where I fell in love with sport. At that time, I knew soccer was what I wanted to play.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue with soccer?

A: Scoring a goal is an incredible feeling that’s unmatched. Celebrating with your teammates after driving the ball past a goalie is indescribable. The preparation of practicing 6,000 times for that moment is fulfilling.

The sport rewards hard work and dedication, that’s what keeps me motivated to continue playing.

Q: If you were not competing in soccer, what other sport would you play?

A: If I didn’t compete in soccer, I would have chosen cross country.

Both sports require running and endurance and I think I’ve gotten pretty good with those characteristics. So, I think cross country would be a good fit.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete and why?

A: My favorite athlete is Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo because he’s the standard. On the field, he has speed, strength, endurance, and tremendous footwork with the ability to lead his team to victory. I admire someone who can do this on a consistent basis.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Once the dust settles after the pandemic and with God’s will, I’m looking to play professionally overseas in Europe.

Q: What or who will you miss at Howard?

A: I’ll miss the great times playing with my teammates. For me, serving as team captain was a big responsibility and I was honored to be the captain for an amazing team.

Also, playing and representing a prestigious institution was one of the best experiences in my life.

Q: What advice would you give future Bison?

A: My advice for future Bison is to never settle for mediocracy, always strive and fight for what you believe in.

Q: Who would you like to thank?

A: I would like to thank Coach Phillip Gyau (Howard men’s soccer head coach) for always believing in me from the beginning while giving me the opportunity to grow as a person on and off the field.

About Gomez

Andres Gomez was a four-year member of the men’s soccer team where he played in 49 contests, racking up 31 total points, 14 goals and three assists.

In his final season, he led the nation in shot accuracy (70-percent) while earning Sun Belt All-Conference First Team. Gomez made the exclusive 2020 Major League Soccer SuperDraft list, ranking him among the top eligible players coming out of college.

The DMV native plans to graduate in the summer with a bachelor’s degree in business. After graduation, he plans to pursue a professional career overseas in Europe.

Congratulations to HU athletes, staff represented during the Bison Awards 2020

By The Sports Pulse Staff

WASHINGTON – The Howard University Department of Athletics announced its annual Bison Awards through the department’s social media platforms.

The two-week celebration gave student-athletes, coaches, parents, and fans an opportunity to recognize the outstanding achievements during the shorten 2019-20 season.

Before awards were announced, Director of Athletics Kery Davis presented the Bison Family with a 45-second informational video on social media, expressing everyone to use the hashtag #BISONAWARDS2020.

On May 4, Athletics began with departmental accolades and recognition, followed by team awards.

Below are the following winners (sorted by teams):

  • Departmental Accolades & Recognition
    • Men’s Highest Team GPA – Swimming & Diving
    • Women’s Highest Team GPA – Tennis
    • Male Highest Individual GPA – Noah Nicholas (Stone Mountain, Ga./Swimming & Diving/3.88 GPA)
    • Female Highest Individual GPA – Kaylah Clark (Miami/Track & Field/4.00 GPA)
    • Men’s Life Skill Award – Football
    • Women’s Life Skill Award – Track & Field
    • Male Iron Bison – Dedrick Parson (Philadelphia/Football)
    • Female Iron Bison – Camille Navarro (Los Angeles/Softball)
    • Athletic Director Award – Kyle Anthony (Miramar, Fla./Football)
    • Newly Elected 2020-21 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee:
      • President – Tiffany Hunt (Bridgewater, N.J./Women’s Lacrosse)
      • Vice-President – Zachyre Lane (Durham, N.C./Women’s Track & Field)
      • Secretary – Rebecca Akande (Somerset, N.J./Women’s Track & Field)
      • Treasurer – Kaylah Clark (Miami/Women’s Track & Field)
  • Men’s Basketball
    • MVP – Charles Williams (Richmond, Va.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Wayne Bristol, Jr. (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
    • Most Improved – Nate Garvey (Nanuet, N.Y.)
    • Spirit Award – Philip Jones (Atlanta)
    • Highest GPA – Nate Garvey (Nanuet, N.Y./3.82 GPA)
  • Women’s Basketball
    • MVP – Ayonna Williams (Washington)
    • Rookie of the Year – Iyanna Warren (Accokeek, Md.)
    • Defensive Player of the Year – Imani Bryant (Berkeley, Calif.)
    • Most Improved – Gia Thorpe (Pittsburgh)
    • Highest GPA – Jayla Thornton (Newark, N.J./3.81 GPA)
  • Bowling
    • MVP – Carolyn Williams (Glen Burnie, Md.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Vanessa Johnson (Chicago)
    • Most Improved – Jahnia Phillips (Elmont, N.Y.)
    • Above & Beyond Achievement Award – Janae Bradford (Chicago)
    • Highest GPA – Jahnia Phillips (Elmont, N.Y./3.79 GPA)
  • Men’s Cross Country
    • MVP – Gavin Williams (Dover, Del.)
    • Most Improved – Matthew Marchbanks (Chicago)
    • Highest GPA – Steven Imes IV (Los Angeles/3.61 GPA)
  • Women’s Cross Country
    • MVP – Melanie White (Orlando, Fla.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Breanna McDonald (Bethesda, Md.)
    • Most Improved – Dasia Wilson (Philadelphia)
    • Highest GPA – Ameenah Saalih (Willingboro, N.J./3.8 GPA)
  • Football
    • MVP – Dedrick Parson (Philadelphia)
    • Rookie of the Year – Ray Williams (Detroit)
    • Most Improved – Branden Johnson (Baltimore)
    • Bison Standard – DaShawn Simon (Baltimore)
    • Highest GPA – Faraji Woodson (Greensboro, N.C./3.87 GPA)
  • Women’s Lacrosse
    • Rookies of the Year – Josie Mallory (Charlottesville, Va.) & Quai Skeete-Ridley (New Carrollton, Md.)
    • Highest GPA – Madison Joines (Winston-Salem, N.C./3.73 GPA)
  • Men’s Soccer
    • MVPs – Carlos Caro (Silver Spring, Md.) & Andres Gomez (Silver Spring, Md.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Joseph Abusada (Houston)
    • Most Improved – Emery Simon (Elkhart, Ind.)
    • Highest GPA – Nicholas Turk (Las Vegas/3.76 GPA)
  • Women’s Soccer
    • MVPs – Alayah Hightower (Mitchellville, Md.) & Victoria Thornton (Plainfield, Ill.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Arianna Morgan (Oklahoma City)
    • Most Improved – Kenya Saunders (Ontario, Canada)
    • Highest GPA – Makaelah Murray (Stockton, Calif./4.00 GPA)
  • Softball
    • MVP – Kalita Dennis (Elk Grove, Calif.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Luz Aguilasocho (Grand Terrace, Calif.)
    • Pitcher of the Year – Brooke Thomas (Detroit)
    • Most Improved – Camille Navarro (Los Angeles)
    • Highest GPA – Ayana Sallee (Chesapeake, Va./4.00 GPA)
  • Men’s Swimming & Diving
    • MVP – Jalen Watson (Miami)
    • Rookie of the Year – Miles Simon (Atlanta)
    • Most Improved – Josiah Scott (Cedar Park, Texas)
    • Highest GPA – Noah Nicholas (Stone Mountain, Ga./3.90 GPA)
  • Women’s Swimming & Diving
    • MVP – Christian Nickolas (Brentwood, Calif.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Asha Evans (Atlanta)
    • Most Improved – Madison Freeland (Glenside, Pa.)
    • Highest GPA – Tiffanee Moore (Tallahassee, Fla./4.00 GPA)
  • Men’s Tennis
    • Rookie of the Year – Romani Mayers (Bridgetown, Barbados)
    • Most Improved – Kyle Martin (Kingston, Jamaica)
    • Highest GPA – Roger Lyn, Jr. (Kingston, Jamaica/3.63 GPA)
  • Women’s Tennis
    • Rookie of the Year – Yemisi Ifederu (London, England)
    • Most Improved – Alexandra Blackwell (Austin, Texas)
    • Highest GPA – Aria Ragas (Johns Creek, Ga./3.93 GPA)
  • Men’s Indoor Track & Field
    • MVP – Kameron Davis (Miami)
    • Rookie of the Year – Nnamdi Olebara (Bowie, Md.)
    • Most Improved – Gavin Williams (Dover, Del.)
    • Highest GPA – Steven Imes IV (Los Angeles/3.61 GPA)
  • Women’s Indoor Track & Field
    • MVP – Jessika Gbai (Philadelphia)
    • Rookie of the Year – Dasia Wilson (Philadelphia)
    • Most Improved – Ameenah Saalih (Willingboro, N.J.)
    • Highest GPA – Kaylah Clark (Miami/4.00 GPA)
  • Women’s Volleyball
    • MVP – Kira Porter (Lake Tahoe, Nev.)
    • Rookie of the Year – Tamar Wells (Apopka, Fla.)
    • Most Improved – Marcelle Butler (Canton, Ga.) & Kailyn Williams (Arlington, Texas)
    • Highest GPAs – Nina Askew (Fairfax, Va./4.00 GPA) & Asha Johnson (Oakland, Calif./4.00 GPA)

Holmes Selected to the 2020 WBCA Thirty Under 30 Honorees

By The Sports Pulse Staff

ATLANTA – The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) recently unveiled its Thirty Under 30 class presented by Marriott Bonvoy and Morgan Stanley Global Sports &Entertainment, for the 2019-20 season where Howard University assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Tamoria Holmes was among the honorees.

The WBCA Thirty Under 30 program was created to recognize 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches age 30 and under at all levels of the game. Each honoree has exemplified their involvement in community service, mentorship and impact on others, professional manner, and attitude and professional association involvement.

“Wow, I am extremely humbled by this recognition from the WBCA,” Holmes expressed. “This industry can be tough at times, but I am honored that my hard work and perseverance hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Holmes wrapped up her third year after guiding HU to its third winning season in four years with a 16-15 overall record. Along the way, Holmes saw guards Ayonna Williams (Washington) and Jayla Thornton (Newark, N.J.) earn Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) All-Conference

“I am extremely proud of Tamoria [Holmes],” said Howard women’s basketball head coach Ty Grace. “She is a hard worker and loves the game. She instantly impacted the lives of our student-athletes.”

Holmes was a four-year letter winner and two-year captain for the Howard women’s basketball team (2009-13). She helped guide the Bison to the MEAC Tournament championship game three times in her collegiate career. After the 2011-12 campaign, she was named to the All-MEAC First Team after leading the conference in scoring with 18.3 points per game.

That same season, the All-HBCU All-America honoree led HU to a 24-9 mark (14-2 MEAC) and WNIT berth.

“The WBCA is pleased to recognize up-and-coming talent in our coaching family,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “These coaches have demonstrated eagerness, effectiveness, loyalty, love of the game, and a commitment to the student-athlete. We celebrate their effort on the basketball court as teachers and equally applaud the extensive role
they play in impacting the lives of their student-athletes.”

The North Carolina native is a member of Howard’s 1,000-point club, earning her bachelor’s degree in health science in 2013.

“She is an up-and-coming coach in this business,” Grace added. “We are lucky to have her back at Howard, a place she accomplished so much as a student-athlete and now has an opportunity as a coach. She is a coach on the rise.”

This is the fifth year of the WBCA Thirty Under 30 program.