Erija Nealeigh Receives the Inaugural Lauren Hill Connor Sports Award

3 years ago

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Last year, Connor Sports found someone whose passion, kindness, determination and love for sport and life defined a true champion – Lauren Hill.

We, and the rest of the nation, became aware of Hill when she decided to not let sickness defeat her dreams. Her senior year of high school, Hill was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Prior to her diagnoses, Hill committed to play basketball at Mount St. Josephs (MSJ) and was determined to still play.

On November 2nd, 2014, less than a year after being diagnosed, Hill made her college basketball debut against Hiram College. MSJ defeated Hiram College with Hill scoring the first and last points of the night.

Hill’s strength and fight stretched beyond her November 2nd baskets and Connor Sports saw this. The gratitude, humility and “never give up attitude” of Hill resonated with Connor Sports and inspired us to do more.

In hopes of passing Hill’s “never give up attitude” to other MSJ students, Connor Sports teamed up with Mt. St. Joseph’s Development Department to establish the Lauren Hill Connor Sports Award.

Over the next five years, the award will provide a current MSJ student who displays Hill’s spirit of a champion through excellent academic performance and community engagement with $1,000 in support of their education.

Connor Sports, MSJ and Hill’s parents – Lisa and Brent - see the award as a reminder of Hill’s character and passion.

“It’s just an honor to have an award named after Lauren and the qualities and the good things she stood for, and to know that someone is striving equally as hard, It’s an honor to remember her name and her message to do your best every day and not quit,” said Lisa Hill.

The inaugural award was presented to Erija Nealeigh, a senior majoring in biology by Hill’s parents at MSJ’s December 12 women’s basketball game vs. Manchester (OH) University.

Erija has been active in the MSJ community and is honored to receive an award founded on Hill’s enduring spirit.

“I am elated to receive the award. I think that Lauren Hill has given the Mount and everyone who has followed her story inspiration and a lot of opportunities and this is another one, so to be able to be one of the recipients and the first one is just amazing,” said Erija Nealeigh.

Congratulations to our inaugural Lauren Hill Connor Sports Award recipient – Erija. We look forward to watching you continue to be a champion. 

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