Morningside’s Natasha Hongsermeier and Tom Maxon have been nominated by the GPAC for NAIA national awards.

Natasha Hongsermeier

Tom Maxon

Morningside women’s tennis player Natasha Hongsermeier and Mustang men’s and women’s soccer head coach Tom Maxon are among the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) nominees for NAIA national awards for the 2015-16 academic year.

Hongsermeier is the GPAC’s nominee for the Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award, while Maxon is the GPAC’s nominee for the NAIA Coach of Character Award.

The Walker Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the NAIA and was created in association with National Sports Foundation, a group of sports organizations that promote and recognize sportsmanship. Dr. Walker was a former president of the NAIA and president emeritus of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The award honors outstanding student-athletes for their academics, athletics, leadership, and dedication to living the core values of Champions of Character.

Hongsermeier, a senior from Phillips, Neb., earned first-team All-GPAC honors in singles and honorable mention All-GPAC recognition in doubles this past season. She had a 16-2 record in singles while playing the majority of the season in the sixth flight. She had a 12-7 record in doubles competition. Hongsermeier helped lead the Mustangs to a 13-3 dual record and to GPAC regular season and post-season tournament championships en route to a berth in the NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship tournament.

Hongsermeier was named a 2016 College Division At-Large First-Team Academic All-American by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and is majoring in biology, chemistry, and music. She has a perfect 4.00 cumulative grade point average (GPA) and is a two-time Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete. Hongsermeier has been active in a number of community service projects and founded the “Musicians for Healing” program which coordinates the time and talent of local musicians with music therapy needs of the Siouxland healthcare facilities. Since the program’s inception 355 hours of service has been donated by musicians. She also serves on the national board of Alpha Lambda Delta, a nonprofit freshman women’s honor society.

The Coach of Character Award is given to a head coach who has been outstanding in embracing the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative by deliberately teaching character to their student-athletes through sport.

Maxon has served as the head coach of Morningside’s women’s soccer team for 16 years and the men’s team for 15 years since he started up both programs. He has led the Mustang women’s soccer team to three NAIA National Tournament appearances over the last 10 seasons, most recently in the 2015 campaign after they won the GPAC Post-Season Tournament Championship with a 2-1 victory against Concordia University in the title game. Maxon also guided Morningside to a GPAC Tournament title in 2006 and to GPAC regular season crowns in 2007 and 2013. He was named the GPAC Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2013 and the NAIA Region III Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year in 2007.

Maxon was named the 2004 GPAC Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year when he guided the Mustangs to the GPAC championship and to within one victory of a NAIA National Tournament berth when they lost in the NAIA Region IV Tournament Championship Game.

The national winners will be announced during the 2016 NAIA National Awards Day on Sept. 15.