FAIRFAX, Va. – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education released the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars for 2017, naming two from Park University to the list – Aaliyah Brown, a junior thrower for the track and field team; and Daniela Duarte, a senior libero for the Pirates' national semifinalist women's volleyball program.
"The Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar award is very special to our student-athletes and it means a great deal to me, personally," said Park University AD Claude English. "This award celebrates success. Success in the classroom, first, and then success on the field. And to be part of this list, you have to be a proven leader who makes a difference in your community. These two young ladies have a lot to be proud of. They're in great company with exceptional student-athletes from across the country."
Brown, from St. Louis and boasting a 3.07 GPA, has one more event left in 2017-18, at the NAIA Women's Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, where she will throw the shot put on Friday, May 26, at 1 p.m. She established a new school record in the hammer throw last month, at William Jewell's Darrel Gourley Open with a throw of 45.37 meters, and in the shot put, her outdoor best is 13.67 meters, recorded April 8, at Central Methodist, winning the event.
Brown also recorded a collegiate personal best in the weight throw to close the indoor season at the Highland Challenge with a throw of 15.1 meters, and this month's outdoor national championships in Orange Beach, Alabama, will be Brown's second NAIA appearance of the year after also finishing 23rd in the shot put to begin the month of march at the NAIA Indoor National Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee.
In her last outdoor appearance, Brown was a conference champion in the shot put, winning the American Midwest Conference title with a throw of 12.98 meters.
For Duarte, who came to the Pirates from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2017 is a second-straight year on the list, also qualifying as a 2016 Arther Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar. Duarte, a 3.83 student, holds a unique distinction for the Pirates as the only student-athlete to compete in four NAIA Volleyball National Championship tournaments, and she closed her year as the team's only Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete in the 2016 season.
Along with teammate Wendy Romero, Duarte was named to the All-Tournament team at the 2016 NAIA Volleyball National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa, two years removed from helping lead the team, from the libero position, to the 2014 NAIA Volleyball National Championship title on a 40-0 campaign that ended with a three-set win over the University of Texas at Brownsville. In 2016, the Pirates were one of four standing on the final day, falling in the NAIA semifinals to Hastings College in four sets.
Duarte was the American Midwest Conference Libero of the Year, ending 2016 with 663 digs, 4.7 per set tying for second all-time at Park in single-season digs with Carolina Faria (2008), while shattering the career record for digs at Park by nearly 200, finishing her career with 1,831 digs from 2013 to 2016.
The 2017 list of sports scholars marks the 25th Anniversary of the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar award.