WMU News

Koetsier twice honored for overcoming adversity

July 5, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Kristin Koetsier, a sophomore forward on the Western Michigan University women's basketball team received national honors twice this spring as winner of the Honda Inspiration Award and the V Foundation Comeback of the Year Award.

The Honda Inspiration Award has been presented annually since 1989 to the collegiate woman athlete who has overcome great physical adversity to contribute to the recognizable success of her team. Koetsier was presented with the award at the 26th Annual Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Banquet June 17 in Dallas, site of the 2002 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics conference.

This past season Koetsier averaged 15.0 points-per-game and 7.5 rebounds per game in 31 games despite being diagnosed with a blood disorder called TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) last summer. She underwent daily blood treatments and chemotherapy to combat the illness. The sophomore lost most of her hair and experienced numbness in her finger tips as a result of the treatment. Koetsier still managed to tie all-time leading scorer Kina Brown as the fastest WMU women's basketball player to reach 1,000 points in her career.

The V Foundation Comeback of the Year Award is presented to an NCAA Division I, II, or III basketball player who embodies the spirit and courage represented by former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993. Valvano and ESPN television founded the V Foundation for Cancer Research that year. Koetsier accepted the award during ESPN television's 2002 College Basketball Awards show March 28 in Atlanta.

Koetsier was one of seven male and female players across the nation named as finalists for the award. She joined Justin Allen of Arizona State, Jamel Bradley of South Carolina, Martha Chaput of Drake, Juan Dixon of Maryland, Andrea Gianni of West Virginia Wesleyan, and Mandy Kappel of Drake as finalists. A panel of judges from the V Foundation's board of directors selected Koetsier as the winner of the award.

"Kristin Koetsier is an extraordinary young woman," V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano said. "We wanted this award to exemplify the spirit and tenacity of collegiate basketball players who face adversity and defy the odds. Kristin's story, her strength, her resolve is an inspiration to all of us."

A physical education major from Lowell, Mich., Koetsier has battled back from two life-threatening blood disorders as well as a knee injury to become one of the top players in Western Michigan University women's basketball history. She was named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team this past season after helping lead the Broncos to an 11-5 league record. The 6 foot 3 inch sophomore was also named to the league's first team as a rookie.

Koetsier missed all but four games of the 2000-01 season after tearing her ACL in a pick-up game. Her spleen was removed the summer prior to her remarkable 1999-2000 freshman season to combat a blood disorder known as ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura). That season, she scored a MAC freshman record and Bronco single-season record 559 points en route to winning conference freshman of the year and Freshman All-American honors.

Media contact: Geoff Brown, 269 387-4138, geoffrey.brown@wmich.edu


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