The Kentucky duo have been honored by Diverse as finalists for the Sports Scholars Awards, which highlight undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr. Hairston, a native of Lexington, Ky., and a product of Tates Creek High School was the only baseball player honored among the 16 male finalists, with Evans honored as one of four women’s basketball standouts in the list of 16 female finalists.
Throughout her Wildcat career, Evans has been an active member in the community and a leader on the hardwood and in the classroom. In 2012, Evans created her own non-profit organization called “Shooting at Success” which provides children with an outlet to create opportunities for strong character development, help establish dynamic and powerful personalities, and inspire children to achieve academically, in any extracurricular activity, and in life. She came up with the idea after traveling to Ethiopia in July of 2012 for a week-long service trip. While in Africa, she helped distribute food and charcoal to victims of leprosy, painted a community center, visited orphans and taught them how to shoot a basketball. What stood out most to Evans from the trip was coming to understand the everyday struggle of the people she served. Even in the face of poverty, the people there always found joy in their lives through faith and a sense of community.
Along with SAS, Evans is a frequent volunteer at Lexington’s Ronald McDonald House, where she cleans the house and does other chores as needed. She has volunteered to pack and deliver food for God’s Pantry BackPack program, volunteered to pack bags for the Joplin, Mo., tornado victims, participated in the NAACP Voter Registration Drive, getting all eligible voters on the UK Hoops team to register to vote for the 2012 election and volunteered with her sorority for Breast Cancer Week, helping bring awareness with programs and fundraisers for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The Salem, Conn., native is a two-time SEC Community Service Team member, while also being named to the prestigious Allstate WBCA Good Works Team earlier this month. Last season she received UK’s prestigious Society of Character honor and the Darrell A. VanMeter Community Service Award.
On the court, the 5-foot-8 guard played and started in 34 of UK’s 35 games this season, and averaged career bests in points (8.2), 3-point field goals made (41) and attempted (121) and field goal percentage (.368). Evans was a key cog in helping lead the Wildcats to their third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. For her career, Evans ranks second all-time in UK Hoops history with 139 games played.
In the classroom, she has earned a 3.77 grade point average and is on track to graduate in May with a major in business management and a minor in African American Studies. She been on the Dean’s List seven times and is a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. She led the team again in the fall with a perfect 4.0 GPA and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District 2 First Team by CoSIDA.
Hairston, a right-handed hitting outfielder, has been active in the community and owns an impressive resume of extra-curricular activities. A 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, Hairston was a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2013 and owns a 3.82 cumulative GPA as an English major.
In the community, Hairston is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, through the Mu Theta Chapter. Hairston is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and has been published three times in his collegiate career. Hairston has read poetry numerous times at local middle and high schools and has been active at coaching and mentoring youth baseball teams. In addition, he has been a speaker at Dunbar High School for the Leaders in the Making project, mentoring youth who want to go to college and be leaders in their communities.
On the field, Hairston has been a key member of the outfield rotation against left-handed pitching, playing in 10 games in 2014, owning a .421 average (8-for-17), including a double, two triples and seven RBI. Hairston has helped pace the Wildcats to a No. 12 national ranking entering a weekend series vs. Missouri Friday.
In 1992, Black Issues In Higher Education magazine, now Diverse, established the Sports Scholars Awards to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.
A scholar and athlete, Ashe sought to expand opportunities for young people. Each year Diverse: Issues In Higher Education invites every postsecondary institution in the country to participate in this awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must exhibit academic excellence as well as community activism.
To be included, students have to compete in an intercollegiate sport; maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2; and are active on their campuses or in their communities. This year the NCAA Office of Inclusion has partnered with Diverse to present this standout class of scholar-athletes. Approximately 600 male and female students from across the country were nominated.
Past award recipients include: Baylor University’s Robert Griffin III, Heisman Trophy winner and Washington Redskins quarterback (2011); the University of Tennessee’s Kara Lawson, ESPN analyst who played for the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs (2003); San Diego State University’s Marshall Faulk, NFL Hall of Famer (1993); the University of Kansas’ Jacque Vaughn, head coach of the NBA’s Orlando Magic (1996); and North Carolina State University’s Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback (2011).
Information provided by UK Athletics
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