Joel Ferrell Award Winners
The AAU, along with the assistance and the guidance of the Joel Ferrell family, established the Joel Ferrell Outstanding Performance Memorial Award to recognize the athletic ability and sportsmanship of an athlete representing each official sport at the AAU Junior Olympic Games. In addition to the award presented at the Games, each recipient's name will be engraved on a special plaque at the AAU National Headquarters.
Joel Ferrell, a former aerospace engineer, made numerous contributions to the AAU. He held several positions with the AAU, including the presidency from 1976-78. He was also a vice president of the USOC. In December 1988, he passed away in his hometown of Tullahoma, Tennessee.
Below is a short biography of each of the 2015 AAU Joel Ferrell Award winners. Congratulations to all!
This year’s Joel Ferrell Award for Sport Stacking was given to Dominic Valerian. Dominic is 18 years old and is a part of Team USA from the Ohio AAU District. He has competed at the AAU Junior Olympic Games for the last 5 years and currently holds a World Record. Dominic is a very well-rounded individual and is always willing to step up and take on a team leader or mentor role. He also enjoys playing hockey and lacrosse in his spare time.
There were two winners of the 2016 AAU Joel Ferrell Award in Jump Rope!
The female recipient is 18 year old Meg Weidman from Kangaroo Kids. She is currently a senior at Catonsville High School. Meg has won first place in the Team Show event in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. She was also awarded the MD Athletic Award.
The male recipient is 18 year old Cameron Simmons from Kangaroo Kids. He is currently a senior at McDonogh School. Cameron has also achieved many great things in the sport. For example, he was 1st overall from 2014-2016 and won the AAU MD Athletic Award in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Swimming chose two recipients for the 2016 AAU Joel Ferrell Award.
The female winner is Kealani Tanizaki-Hudson from Hawaii! The sixteen year old has won multiple gold and silver medals at the AAU Junior Olympic Games from 2012-2016. Beyond swimming, Kealani was also crowned Miss Hawaii’s Outstanding Teen in 2015 and won multiple academic scholarships, totaling over $800,000, from the Miss America organization. During her reign, she promoted good health, athletics, giving back to the community, and academics. Kealani is also very gifted academically. She maintains a 4.3 GPA and is currently serving as the President of the National Honor Society at her high school, where she has implemented multiple community drives to raise funds and awareness for organizations such as the Children’s Miracle Network and cancer research.
The male winner is Patrick Daniel from Arkansas. The seventeen year old has been competing at the AAU Junior Olympic Games since 2012 and has collected many medals but has been swimming since the age of 9. Patrick is passionate about everything that he does, which includes swimming, as well as cross country running, track, and livestock showing. He is very accomplished in all of these activities and loves to help those younger than him develop a love for these things as well. Patrick also goes out of his way to help others. For example he has volunteered with both the Magnolia Specialized Services and Special Olympics since 2014.
The female recipient of this year’s Joel Ferrell Award is Abigail Coutscoudis. The 15 year old is a rising junior from Fredericksburg, VA. This is her second time at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, but she has been competing in taekwondo since she was just three years old. She participates in and teaches taekwondo, and is also training in judo. Outside of the sport, Abigail is also training to be a firefighter and EMT. She also volunteers at the UVA Culpepper Hospital in her spare time.
The male recipient of this year’s Joel Ferrell Award is Joseph Kenney. The 13 year old has been competing in taekwondo since 2010 and represents the Adirondack AAU District. Joseph’s most recent accomplishment with the AAU was his medal in last year’s AAU Junior Olympic Games. However, Joseph has collected much more than that in his time with the AAU. In 2015, he was recognized as the National AAU Outstanding Athlete and was featured in our published hardback book. Since 2014, he has won many gold medals at various AAU events in Olympic Sparring and Forms. Outside of the sport, Joseph excels as well. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, Guilderland High School’s Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track teams, and the New York American Choral Directors Association as a performer. He also earned Fitness Fanatic status while in middle school.
The female recipient of this year’s Joel Ferrell Award is Suzanne Haynes. This high school sophomore from Arlington, Texas has been a member of the AAU National Team since 2015. She is also a NKF National Champion, a violinist in her high school’s orchestra, and an honor student.
The male recipient of this year’s Joel Ferrell Award is Tommy Ngo. This high school junior is also from Arlington, Texas and received this same award back in 2011. He is also a member of the USANKF team.
Rachel Zhou of Naperville, IL and Jonathan Li from Plano, TX take home the Joel Ferrell Awards for Table Tennis. Zhou, an 8th grader from Jefferson Junior High School and Li, a 9th grader from Clark High School, took home the award for their outstanding sportsmanship and extraordinary athleticism.
Christopher Delouche of Shreveport, LA was the male recipient of the Joel Ferrell Award. Representing his team Jet’s Barbell, Delouche not only powerlifts (and weightlifts), but plays football and throws shotput at his high school. He has also had the opportunity to train in Park City, Utah for bobsled where he was a brakeman for the two man bobsled team. Outside of sports, he is also in Boy Scouts of America where he is a life scout, working to achieve his rank of Eagle Scout and has won many awards within his troop. For the past six years, he has also been heavily involved with the community food drive and other community service projects.
Betzaidalis Mojica-Rosado of San Antonio, TX was the female recipient of the Joel Ferrell Award. 18-year-old Mojica-Rosado participates in cheerleading, wrestling, AND powerlifting. She is an ambassador of Miss Heart of the USA, has volunteered for the food bank, and continually gets involved with many community service projects. She is also a volunteer choreographer, dance teacher, and cheer coach. She holds many Texas state records in powerlifting, is the Cheer World National Champion, and the Captain of the Brooks Academy Cheerleaders.
The female recipient for the Joel Ferrell Award in weightlifting was Skyler Joneson of Valparaiso, FL. 17-year-old Joneson serves as the team manager for her high school varsity football team, volunteers in her community often, and is the intermural volleyball referee. She is a Florida state qualifier for weightlifting as well as a 3-year finalist for district and regionals in track & Field. She has been awarded the best defensive player during her three years on the volleyball team as well. She took home 3rd place in the women’s division of the All-World Weightlifting Federation Bar Slam Fest and was a 3x Teen Powerlifting Champ at King of the Beach Powerlifting.
The male recipient for the Joel Ferrell Award in weightlifting was Noah Crofton of Shreveport, LA. This 11th grader has taking 1st place numerous times in both weightlifting and powerlifting at the AAU Junior Olympic Games over his seven years with the AAU. He also represented the US in the Youth World Cup where he finished 2nd in the US and 13th in the World. Crofton was also a Youth Olympic Games alternate for Norway and a member of the US Bobsled Team. He also coaches CrossFit and volunteers as a coach in a senior citizens’ exercise class.
This year’s cheerleading recipient of the Joel Ferrell Award was Brea Slade. Shade stood out to the committee with her exceptional personality and performance. Her “great facials” stood out against all of the other competitors.
Track & Field
The four recipients of the Track & Field Joel Ferrell Award were: Gabrielle Wilkinson, Tyrese Cooper, Jahnelle Saunders, and Kevin Adams II.
Wilkinson, of Philadelphia, PA, won the 17-18 year old girls 800 meters (2:07.04) and 1500 meters (4:25.04), both in record setting fashion. She also won the 3000 meters with a time of 10:25.08.
Cooper, of Miami Gardens, FL, took home the title in the 15-16 year old boys 100 meters (10.36), 200 meters (20.89), and 400 meters (45.23). His time in the 400 meters not only set a new record, but ranks him #1 in the US in that age group.
Saunders, 13, of Hampton, VA competed in five events, finishing in the top eight in all of them. After finishing 2nd in the 13 year old girls Pentathlon, Saunders placed 1st in the long jump with a jump of 18-09., setting a new national record, 2nd in the high jump with a jump of 5-05, 4th in the 200m hurdles (28.72) and 7th in the 100m hurdles (15.51).
Adams, 12, of Cedar Park, TX, finished in the top three of his three field events, taking home gold in two of them. With a throw of 52-05.50 in the shot put, Adams finished eight feet above 2nd place. He finished another nine feet above 2nd place in the discus with a throw of 135-09. In the turbo javelin, Adams finished 3rd with a throw of 130-10.
The two recipients of the Multi-Events Joel Ferrell Award were: Trya Gittens and Kyle Garland.
Gittens, of Nashville, TN, competed in the 17-18 year old Heptathlon were she set a new record in the event with 5337 points. On day one, her high jump of 1.85m (6-00.75) was the best high school jump in the country this year behind Vashti Cunningham, 2016 Olympic team member.
Garland took first in the 15-16 year old Decathlon with a point total of 6823 (more than 2100 points over 2nd place), winning the 100m dash (11.22), long jump (6.62m, 21-08.75), shot put (12.47m, 40-11.00), high jump (2.05m, 6-08.75), 110m hurdles (14.73), and discus (37.95m, 124-06) and taking second in the 400m (51.45), pole vault (3.50m, 11-05.75), and javelin (43.84m, 135-06). He’s “weakest” event was the 1500m where he finished 5th (4:52.42).
The field hockey recipient of the Joel Ferrell Award was Amanda Jordan. A 16-year-old from Rockville, MD, Jordan’s skills were unmatched on the field. It was her second trip to the AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Brady Chrisman took home the Joel Ferrell Award for wrestling. Chrisman, part of team Ohio Scarlet, went a perfect 15-0 in the 152 lb weight class. A participant of the AAU Scholastic Duals in Orlando, he also took home a gold and two copper from the tournament. He is a two-time district placer, an Ohio state alternate, and a National gold medalist.
Trampoline & Tumbling
The two recipients of the Trampoline & Tumbling Joel Ferrell Awards are: Corban Morris and Brooke Beinhart.
Morris, a 16-year old from Prague, OK, is a member of the Flip n Fly club. He was a 2014 All-American in the double mini and has won numerous national championships in his nine years with the AAU. This elite-level athlete was a 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 National Team Member that has fought through numerous injuries, including a tibia-fibula fracture. Morris is always supportive of athletes young and old and takes time to converse with athletes of all levels.
Beinhart is an eight-year member of the AAU, competing in the AAU Junior Olympic Games three times. A 16-year-old from Iowa, she is an AAU National Team member as well as a National Champion on trampoline, double mini, rod floor, and synchro. Beinhart puts in 12-15 hours of work each week while also helping coach classes.
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