Shocked. Surprised. Honored.
Those three words pretty well sum up the reaction of three Columbus sports figures when they found out they are this year’s recipients of the Jack Cramer Ideals of Athletic Competition Award.
Longtime Columbus East football and girls track coach Glen Brown, recent East three-sport standout Cortney VanLiew, and former Columbus North player and current East assistant girls basketball coach Kylie Weichman are the honorees. They were selected during a meeting of community leaders Wednesday at Donner Center.
Brown was in the first graduating class at East in 1974 and was the school’s first Judson Erne Mental Attitude Award winner. He competed in football, wrestling and track at both East and at Hanover College, where he was an All-American in 1978.
Brown spent two years as a graduate assistant at Ball State before beginning his teaching career in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. He has been an assistant football, wrestling and track coach and has been head girls track coach since 2006. He also was East’s assistant athletics director in 1997-98 and AD from 1998-2005.
“It was a total shock,” Brown said. “I had no idea that I’d been nominated. It was a great honor. The Jack Cramer Award has been pretty special for the community of Columbus. I’ve seen a lot of my friends win it. I guess you secretly hope, but it wasn’t something like, ‘I have to do this so I can win something like that.'”
VanLiew graduated from East after winning letters all four years in volleyball, swimming and track. She was a state qualifier in swimming as a sophomore and All-State in volleyball as a junior and senior.
Last fall, VanLiew was honored as the state winner and a national finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman. Earlier this month, she was named The Republic Female Athlete of the Year.
VanLiew is taking summer classes at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she will play volleyball and beach volleyball beginning this fall.
“I was actually really surprised,” VanLiew said. “To get a phone call from an 812 number was really a shock. I had no idea I was even up for the award. It was completely unexpected. With all the requirements to win the award, it’s really crazy, and it’s a personality check. The people who nominated me, what they thought of me as a person and as a player, it really meant a lot to me.”
Weichman played basketball and golf at North, where she graduated in 2001. She started coaching basketball at Foundation For Youth as a junior in high school, and started coaching elementary boys basketball at Smith Elementary as a sophomore at Franklin College.
After college, Weichman coached girls basketball at Southside Elementary and with the Columbus Boomers and Columbus Rebels AAU teams. She has been the junior varsity coach at East the past five years. This year, she helped start East’s feeder program called Triple Team.
Weichman also has been involved with Bartholomew Brown Jennings Special Olympics. She works as a strategic account manager for Pearson Education, a global educational technology company.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Weichman said. “There are several folks in our community who are so deserving. It places me in a special group that wants to give back. It’s just a way to continue my passion for coaching and to be involved in the sport that I love.”
The Cramer Award, which is in its 40th year, honors John H. “Jack” Cramer, a standout local athlete who died unexpectedly at the age of 33 in 1977. The award honors local individuals who exemplify the same character and passion as Cramer.
An awards banquet to honor this year’s recipients will be held at a date to be determined.