Ex-volleyball/hoops star joins tennis coach in spotlight

There was a larger pool of nominees than usual for the Jack Cramer Ideals of Athletic Excellence Award this year.

Parks & Recreation director Mark Jones said, however, that the choices were pretty clear.

Allison Lee White and Kendal Hammel were the recipients of the 39th annual Cramer Awards, which were presented Thursday afternoon at Donner Center.

Several former winners were in attendance for the presentation, including Dudley Moore, who was the first Cramer honoree back in 1978.

White, who starred in volleyball and basketball at Columbus East in the early 1990s, listened to her high school coaches, former Cramer winners Mel Good and Faith Wilder-Newland, sing her praises before accepting the award.

“I don’t feel like I really deserve to be in that group,” White said afterward. “I look at my former coaches, and I’m just extremely honored and privileged to be a part of that group.”

A math teacher at Northside Middle School, White remains active on the Columbus sports scene. She does some coaching with the Columbus Comets girls basketball program alongside her husband, Brett, and her voice can be heard during the winter broadcasting basketball games alongside Tom Rush for MOJO 102.9 (WXCH-102.9 FM).

Hammel also is paying it forward. The longtime tennis pro at Tipton Lakes Athletic Club, he has coached the boys tennis team at Columbus North for 22 years and the girls for 19. The Bull Dog girls reached the state quarterfinals this spring.

Being able to spend his life teaching others the game he loves, Hammel says, has been a thrill. He spent almost all of his acceptance speech talking about how much he has been enriched by the people he has coached.

“Tennis, contrary to some other sports sometimes, you don’t have to be great at it,” he said following the ceremony. “You get beginners, you get advanced players, you get young, you get old players, and they can go out on the court and play singles, play some doubles, have some fun, have the social aspect with other people. And being able to be involved in that and helping people get to the point where they enjoy it, that’s rewarding.”

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.