LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Some serious girl power will be on display Wednesday, September 23 as the athletic achievements of women will be recognized at the first WISH Awards in Louisville.
WISH - Women In Sports Honors - will take place at the Crown Plaza Hotel and include a reception, dinner and awards presentation with featured speaker Tom Jurich, Director of Athletics at the University of Louisville. Doors for the event open at 6:30 p.m.
Kelsi Worrell will receive the honor of Athlete of the Year. The University of Louisville senior swimmer broke an American record in the 100 meter butterfly with at time of 49.81, breaking the long standing 13 year record of Olympian Natalie Coughlin.
"It was special," said Arthur Albiero, Kelsi's coach at UofL, of that moment. "It's something that we were not specifically chasing, but it became the natural progression of what she was trying to do in our philosophy of getting a little better every day.
Albiero said Worrell epitomizes Jurich's motto of being "humble and hungry." He said she never makes big claims but is a hard worker, a team player and someone who makes the people around her better.
According to Albiero, Worrell is so humble she even campaigned not to put her banner up outside the swimming facility, but the coach said he told her, "You don't have a choice, it's tradition."
When asked about Worrell getting the Athlete of the Year WISH award, Albiero
said he's not surprised because it's hard to beat her credentials.
"She's an American record holder, ranked number three in the world and number one in the United States, ACC swimmer of the year, and NCAA two event champion."
"I'm so honored and thankful," said Worrell, a New Jersey native, of getting the WISH award, "and I'm thankful for the support women in Louisville are getting now across the board."
While in high school Worrell got the opportunity to go to the 40th anniversary Title IX Awards dinner and said it was amazing at that time to see how far women have come in athletics. Worrell, who is from a large family and has five younger siblings, said she is lucky to have the community support here in Louisville and told us her team is also like family which helps being so far from home.
What's next for Worrell? She has an ACC season ahead and then next summer she will get a shot to be part of Team USA at the Olympic games. But just like all swimmers involved, it is a slim shot. Everyone swims preliminaries, the top 16 come back for the semi-finals. then the top eight compete. It's simply first and second hand on the wall, no matter how fast your times are all week, it's one shot. Let's keep our fingers crossed Worrell gets the opportunity she deserves.
Jeanna Livingston will receive the Courage Award. Livingston is defensive specialist for the Seneca High School volleyball team and was nominated for the award by her coach, Ken Norris.
In his 20 seasons of coaching hundreds of athletes all over Louisville, Norris said he knew exactly who he was nominating for this award.
"Jeanna is the one." said Norris. "I've never had anyone who wanted to play as bad as she did."
That's not easy considering a huge health roadblock for Livingston. As a Type 1 diabetic, Livingston must monitor her blood sugar before, during and after she plays and practices.
"She actually will take insulin shots during games or practice," Norris said, "and unfortunately for us because she's such a great player, she can't participate all the time."
In a game not long ago, Norris said Livingston's blood sugar level caused her to go from the playing floor to sitting on the sideline cheering on her teammates to the intensive care unit. When Livingston got out of ICU after two and a half days Norris said she went right to the game to cheer on her team.
"She's such a special person," said Norris.
Livingston said the WISH honor was a great surprise.
"I was beyond happy," said Livingston after finding out, "I was really thankful."
Livingston says she's also honored to play for Seneca. She loves her role on the team so much she has a lot of days when she doesn't feel like checking her blood sugar, she just wants to get in the game like everyone else, but she knows keeping healthy is her way to stay on the team.
The WISH Legacy Award goes to Tori Murden McClure. The Spalding University president is a deserving first recipient of this award. Murden McClure became the first woman and American to ski to the geographic South Pole in 1989 the same year she was named a Hopkins Scholar at Harvard University.
In 1999, Murden McClure became the first woman and American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, a feat that was followed and documented on WAVE 3 News.
Murden McClure is also the Chair of the Board for the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Murden McClure is most proud right now of her Compassionate University status and that Restorative Justice Louisville has found a home on Spalding's campus. She's also been busy with outside projects.
"I just got back from the Carter Center in Atlanta where I was with President and Mrs. Carter to serve on her Mental Health Journalism Advisory Board," she said.
The athlete and author said she loves to see the changes coming to women's sports as young women aren't afraid to go after what they want - and it's being recognized.
"I remember when I was rowing a boat across the Atlantic Ocean that whenever an article appeared it was never in the sports section," Murden McClure said. "It was always in the feature section next to whatever the meal of the day was."
Wednesday night, Louisville women will be celebrated. "We are entitled to a night," she smiled. "We are entitled to a night."