UW-Green Bay volleyball named 2023 Bobby Fong Award winner

INDIANAPOLIS (April 13, 2023) – Green Bay volleyball has been named this year’s recipient of the Horizon League’s Bobby Fong Award. The program is involved with numerous community and campus initiatives, including the Green Bay Optimist Club, UWGB’s 50 Years of Title IX Celebration, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Greater Green Bay YMCA.

“The Green Bay volleyball program clearly personifies the Horizon League’s values of integrity, respect and stewardship. The team has taken incredible initiative and really stepped into a leadership role on campus and in the community. From their work with the Alzheimer’s Association bringing awareness to the disease and supporting fundraising efforts, the GB Optimist Club going into the schools and inspiring young children to read, supporting YMCA camps for underprivileged youth to then playing a leadership role in the campus’ 50 Years of Title IX Celebration, this team is amazing. Their commitment to using sport as a powerful platform to positively impact those around them honors President Fong’s legacy. Because of their inspiration, we are excited to name the Phoenix this year’s Bobby Fong Award winner,” stated Horizon League Commissioner Julie Roe Lach.

The award is named after the late Bobby Fong who served as the President of Butler University from 2001-11. The Bobby Fong Award is given to the student-athlete or team that best represents the Horizon League and its core values of integrity, respect and stewardship.

“This award is a testament to the amazing work our volleyball coaches and student-athletes are doing each and every day. Green Bay Volleyball is a positive light to this community and we couldn’t be more proud of them in receiving this prestigious honor,” commented Green Bay Director of Athletics Josh Moon.

“Bobby often said that students should learn not just to make a living, but to make a life of purpose in which individual achievement was intertwined with the well-being of others. He believed that participation in a sport, which teaches selfless teamwork, self-discipline and persistent striving towards common goals, was an important part of such an education. Green Bay volleyball embodies these values. Congratulations to them. Bobby would be so proud of them, as am I,” said Bobby’s widow Suzanne Fong.

As Butler’s President, Dr. Fong served on the Horizon League Board of Directors from 2001-2011, including a term as its chair. Dr. Fong’s decade as the President of Butler University was marked by a new core curriculum and improved campus-community relationships. Under his watch, Butler sustained an athletic program distinguished by its balance between academic achievement and competitive excellence.

Green Bay women’s volleyball worked with the Alzheimer’s Association for years, highlighted by raising more than $8,000 at an Attacking Alzheimer’s volleyball match this year and volunteering at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The team helped raise awareness for the cause through a video with player interviews and also chalked the route and helped with face painting for children attending the walk.

The Phoenix worked with the Green Bay Optimist Club to bring the National Dictionary Project to Green Bay. The goal of the project is to provide students with their own personal dictionaries to assist them in becoming active readers.

Volleyball student-athletes spoke to each third grade class in at-risk schools in Green Bay, personally showing the students how to use the dictionaries. The presence of college students in the classrooms also provided the students with examples of the importance of education and learning.

The volleyball program also supported the new UWGB Institute for Women’s Leadership this year. The team attended the organization’s inaugural event and participated in a forum with more than 300 community members in attendance.

Additionally, team members participated on the campus committee planning the 50 Years of Title IX Celebration. Phoenix student-athletes helped with videos and the communication plan for the celebration. Team captain Paalman also spoke on the “Title IX: Then and Now” panel, which drew 150 community members.

The volleyball program also worked with the Greater Green Bay YMCA to host multiple youth volleyball camps, helping promote healthy living and providing an example of college student-athletes as role models. The team’s partnership has helped to grow the YMCA’s youth recreation volleyball programs in the community.

“I am so happy for our team to receive this award as a representation of all the hard work we do for the community. Some of our experiences include raising money for Alzheimer’s Association, teaching local elementary students how to use dictionaries, and expanding our leadership skills through community engagement, camps, and workshops. I am so proud of this team for all of the hard work we put in, and how much fun we have doing it,” added team captain Calli Gentry.

“I’m so proud of the collective effort from our program to be leaders at our university and in our community, not only as athletes but as well-rounded students and active citizens. Our participation in a variety of community service efforts is incredibly rewarding as we learn the positive impact we can have on youth and the Green Bay area,” stated team captain Tiffany Paalman.

“It brings me so much joy to witness our team being recognized with this award as a testament to our efforts in the community. We pride ourselves in being leaders both at our university and in our community, and we enjoy showcasing our versatility as students and community members, not just as athletes,” said team captain Cora Behnke. 

Bobby Fong Award Winners      

  • 2016- Elena Popkey, Women’s Basketball, Oakland
  • 2017- Sami Rutowski, Women’s Soccer, Northern Kentucky
  • 2018- Northern Kentucky Baseball
  • 2019- Karissa Frazier, Softball, UIC
  • 2020- Alyssa Fischer, Women’s Basketball, Milwaukee
  • 2021- Kayla Thompson, Track & Field, Northern Kentucky
  • 2022- Lauryn Hicks, Softball, Northern Kentucky
  • 2023- Green Bay Volleyball

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