Athletic Awards Follow-Up
Bluffton University presents top athletic awards
Bluffton University presented its top athletics awards April 17 to standout athletes in baseball and softball and a special award given to President James Harder and Karen Klassen Harder.
Ryan Golden of Findlay, Ohio, accepted the A.C. Burcky Award as senior male athlete of the year, while Brittany Huff of Union, Ohio, won the Kathryn E. Little Award as outstanding senior female athlete. Golden, an accounting and business administration double major, is the son of Kris Hepperly and Joseph Golden. Huff is an education major. She is the daughter of David and Kathy Huff.
Golden is described by Coach James Grandey as “a perfect example of the total student-athlete who makes the program and team better in a variety of different ways.
On the field, Golden is hitting near .300 with 29 hits, 7 doubles, and a triple, along with five homeruns including three in a doubleheader against Manchester earlier this season. He leads the team with 27 runs batted in and has 6 stolen bases.
In the classroom, Golden earned the Beaver-Falcon scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship to Bowling Green State University for a master’s degree in accounting. He is a two-time Academic All-HCAC award winner and will receive that honor again after this season.
Golden is also active on campus, working as a tutor and student ambassador for three years. He has served as J. Denny Beaver, the mascot of Bluffton University athletics, and was a resident assistant for two years and served on Marbeck Center Board for a year.
The Burcky Award is named for the late professor of physical education and coach who served Bluffton from 1922-68. He was inducted into the NAIA Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1970, the A.C. Burcky addition to Founders Hall was dedicated in his honor.
Huff is a two-sport standout in soccer and softball. A four year member of both teams, she was captain of the soccer team the past two seasons, and team MVP in 2017. She ended her career with 14 total goals, including a game winning goal to beat Rose-Hulman for only the second time in school history.
As a member of the softball team, Huff has been the starting shortstop all four seasons. With part of the season to go, she is already ranked second all-time with 23 career homeruns, tied for second all-time with 103 runs scored, and tied for fourth all-time with 135 hits.
She has been named to the dean’s list with distinction every semester and has been a member of Pi Lambda Theta, an honor society for education majors, since 2016. She has been named All-HCAC Honorable Mention, All-HCAC second Team and All-HCAC Academic All-Conference.
On campus, she served as a resident assistant for two years and a hall director this year. Huff was a student ambassador for three years and is currently serving as the vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Coach Amanda DeMoine said of Huff: “Her attitude, integrity and work ethic is what makes her special in everything she does, and makes her so deserving of this award.”
Huff’s award is named for Kathryn Little, who served in Bluffton’s health, physical education and recreation department and in athletics from 1958-74. She was a member of the first class inducted into the Bluffton Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Larry W. Jones Memorial Award is named after Larry Jones, who graduated from Bluffton in 1970. A basketball player during his time at Bluffton, he continued his interest in sports after graduation, including as an official for basketball games, while working as a social worker in Putnam County. He was killed in an automobile accident in March of 1978, and this award was established in his memory to be presented to a non-athlete student, faculty/staff member or citizen in recognition of interest, support and significant contributions to Bluffton University Athletics.
This year’s recipients are President James M. Harder and Dr. Karen Klassen Harder, who have been Bluffton athletic supporters since they arrived as faculty member in 2001. The couple routinely attend Bluffton sporting events and have led numerous improvements to athletic facilities including the baseball and softball fields, Sommer Center, turf on Alumni Field and the upgrades to the track and field venues. President Harder also takes his commitment to student-athletes and coaches very serious through his various roles with the NCAA. Dr. Klassen Harder is a dedicated volunteer during the annual home cross-country meet at Bluffton’s nature preserve and has served as a member of the Athletics Advisory Committee.
Upon presenting the award, Dr. Darryl Nester, faculty athletic representative, said, “They have left no room to doubt their loyalty and commitment to Bluffton University as a whole and to Bluffton Athletics in particular.”