The Colorado Christian University women’s basketball program has been honored by Russell Athletic and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) as the recipient of the third annual Russell Athletic “Together We R” Team Award. Tim Hays, head coach of the Cougars, was presented with the award at the fourth annual WBCA Awards Show.
In its third year, the “Together We R” Team Award honors programs that have strived to succeed in the face of adversity, overcoming extraordinary circumstances such as an unforeseen team crisis, barrier or unfortunate situation that caused extra stress. The team must exemplify strong commitment to core values of togetherness, courage, unparalleled work ethic and heart, and must personify the “Together We R” belief that teams are stronger than individuals.
From the initial submissions, a committee composed of WBCA past presidents narrowed it to four finalists – Colorado Christian University, Purdue University, the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina. Each institution submitted a video telling their story which was posted on the WBCA’s YouTube channel. Fans were asked to watch the videos and show their support by voting for who they believed should be the winner of the award. The Cougars garnered the most fan votes with more than 4,677 views and 909 “likes” on their video, and received one additional vote when the selection committee met to determine the winner.
Colorado Christian University dedicated their 2013 season to team manager Kaylee McBeth who had been placed on the heart transplant list because of a tumor in her heart. On January 20, 2014 McBeth lost her battle. The Cougars mission to be “One” heartbeat and personify what it meant to be #KayleeStrong was even greater from that day forth. Colorado Christian University had the option to not play the weekend following McBeth’s passing, but the Cougars decided to play on top of attending the memorial service and won both games.
Below is an excerpt from the submission made on the team’s behalf:
“Coach I don’t like to stand in front of people, that’s why I love being a manager. I like being in the background,” said Kaylee McBeth. “If with my story one person’s life is impacted then it was worth my life and my death.”
Colorado Christian University won three straight following McBeth’s passing and won eight of its last 11 games. The Cougars finished the season 15-13 overall and played in the first round of the NCCAA Central Regional Tournament after a year hiatus.
“It’s unfortunate that everyone associated with the Colorado Christian University program experienced such a tragedy. However, the determination and perseverance of the Cougars and their focus to be #KayleeStrong is a perfect demonstration of what one can overcome when working together as a team,” said Russell Athletic Senior Vice President General Manager, Robby Davis. “Everyone associated with the program came together to ensure that this team had the support it needed to continue. It’s a pleasure to recognize Colorado Christian University with the ‘Together We R’ Award. ”
“One of the hardest things in life to go through is the passing of a ‘family’ member,” said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. “Colorado Christian persevered and truly exemplified what it meant to be #KayleeStrong after Kaylee passed away. The Cougars continue to carry on Kaylee’s legacy and are well deserving of the ‘Together We R’ award.”