Morningside’s Natasha Hongsermeier, pictured with Morningside president John Reynders (right) and athletic director Tim Jager, was presented with her 2016 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Dr. LeRoy Walker Champions of Character Award at the 76th Annual NAIA National Convention in San Diego, Calif.

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 recognizes a current student-athlete with at least junior academic status who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, campus and community leadership embracing the five core character values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, athletic achievement, and future ambition.

Hongsermeier is a senior on the Mustangs’ women’s tennis team. She 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. Hongsermeier 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, over 350 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.

Hongsermeier earned first-team All-Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) honors last season when she helped lead the Mustangs to GPAC regular season and post-season tournament championships en route to a berth in the NAIA Women’s Tennis National Championship tournament.