ABILENE, Texas – Each year, McMurry University Athletics honors the legacy of Thomas Neel Lemond, affectionately known as “Coach Neel” to generations of students, faculty and staff.
With over 50 years of service to the university before Coach Neel’s passing in 2014, McMurry University created The Coach Neel Lemond Endowment for Athletes in Service, which is rewarded annually to scholar-athletes and varsity teams who actively display the characteristics of servant leadership and Christian faith.
For the 2019-20 athletic season, McMurry Athletics participated in numerous community service projects and actively helped members of the community through this initiative.
The NCAA challenged member institutions to become involved with Special Olympics, a partnership McMurry University has gratefully shared for decades. The Coach Neel Lemond Endowment for Athletes in Service made it possible for McM scholar-athletes to host a basketball clinic, a Valentine’s Day dance and monthly gatherings with Abilene Adaptive Recreation.
Those three particular events impacted over 100 participants, as well as the coaches, staff and scholar-athletes of McMurry Athletics who served.
The basketball clinic, hosted by the men’s and women’s basketball programs at McMurry, encouraged exercise and team bonding. The Valentine’s Day Dance, hosted by McMurry’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), was the third time McMurry has welcomed its friends from Special Olympics and
Adaptive Recreation to campus for a night of dancing, karaoke and games. Both events, as well as monthly visits to Adaptive Recreation, put many smiles on faces.
Each year, McMurry Athletics awards two exemplary scholar-athletes the Coach Neel “Heart of a War Hawk” award who display servant leadership and good sportsmanship. This year’s winners, as vote by the head coaches, select staff and a religious life representative, were junior volleyball player Brynn Warnack and senior track and field athlete Justin Miller.
Warnack heads into her senior season with the volleyball team. Coach Cammie Petree said that Brynn Warnack is a true reflection of Coach Neel Lemond by the way she demonstrated her love for Jesus and her love for the university. Warnack is active in her church, active with FCA and serves on the FCA college leadership team. She is also a perfect example of good sportsmanship and servant leadership through her actions.
Miller will be moving on to graduate school this fall, but not before leaving a lasting impact on McMurry University. Through his servant leadership mentality, Justin approached head track and field coach Cody Knight and pitched the idea of a “Track and Field Tailgate Worship.” His teammates would gather and worship however they were comfortable, allowing them to fellowship and bond as a team.
For more information on how to support the Coach Neel Endowment Campaign, contact:
of Donor Relations