SE: Powercat Choice Winners Share Stories of Service and Staying Ready

By: Austin Siegel 

Cameron Thompson had just finished up in the batting cage when he found out he was a Powercat Choice Award winner. 
Jasauen Beard got a text from K-State Assistant Director of Academics Marissa Edwards. Mikaela Bennett was walking with her family when she got the news.
“It was a really nice surprise to see that,” she said. 
For a year in college sports like no other, it was only fitting that K-State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted the 11th annual Mark A. Chapman Powercat Choice Awards on social media for the first time. 
Across 16 varsity programs, K-State student-athletes compete for enough trophies and awards to rival the Olympics Games, but the PCAs are the only awards voted on by other Wildcats.
“It’s pretty cool that people think so highly of me,” Thompson said. “When people post different awards that they won, it’s awesome to see what everyone’s doing, how they’re working out and getting ready for next season.”
Over the course of the week, winners were announced each night on social media – with student-athletes, coaches and athletic staffers sharing memories from the 2019-20 season. 
A few of the Wildcats honored at the 2020 Powercat Choice Awards took a moment to chat about the recognition, their teammates and what they’re up to during a remote semester:
Jasauen Beard – Women’s Basketball – Inspiration Award

When Jasauen Beard arrived at K-State for her redshirt junior season, the Oklahoma native wasted no time making an impact. 
Starting on some nights and coming off the bench on others, Beard finished among the top five Wildcats in scoring and rebounding from 2018-20. In two seasons, she never missed a game.
Her impact off the court in Manhattan has been no less consistent. 
“I’m big on character,” Beard said. “I always tell people, it’s everything to me.”

As the women’s basketball representative on SAAC, Beard has taken on a leadership role in the student-athlete community while balancing athletics, academics and just being a mom.
“When we had events on the football field at the beginning of the year to get all the student-athletes together, my son got to come and he had fun playing on the football field,” Beard said. “Meeting a lot of college athletes to him was a really big thing, so he loves Xavier [Sneed] and Pierson [McAtee] who helped him shoot some hoops.”
And of course, there was also the important business of picking the team’s lip-synch song for the Powercat Choice Awards.
“We were at a game at Oklahoma State. People kept adding more song suggestions and nobody could agree,” Beard said. “Say My Name was the song where most people at least knew the chorus, so we ended up going along with that one.”

Cameron Thompson – Baseball – Unsung Hero Award

No team in Manhattan lost more games to COVID-19 in 2020 than K-State Baseball, where Cameron Thompson was putting together an impressive senior season at third base. 
He got on base in the first 11 games of the season and led the Wildcats in base hits, runs scored, doubles and multi-hit games in 2020. With most of the season canceled in March, Thompson has taken on an equally important role as one of the team’s senior leaders.
“We’re a pretty tight-knit group, so we’ve all stayed in contact,” he said. “Looking at what the seniors have done in years past, they were always good people, so just trying to be a good person. If you respect others, then they’re going to respect you.”

In keeping with the spirit of the award, Thompson is staying ready during the extended offseason. 
He said the baseball team’s nutritional and training staff have prepared different team challenges to keep student-athletes motivated and he’s back in the batting cage at home. 
“The motivation is just to be bigger, faster, strong. That’s what it’s all about,” Thompson said. “You’ve got to be ready for whenever we’re back on the field.”
Mikaela Bennett – Rowing – Outstanding Service to the Community

  Even before her rowing career at K-State, Mikaela Bennett realized that giving back to her community was always going to be more than just a resume builder.
“In high school, I realized it was something that I really loved to do,” she said. “Coming to college, the athletic department has such great people who literally have like a sheet of different community service projects you can do. It’s so helpful and easy.”
Finding those opportunities might be the easy part for Bennett, but the senior has managed to balance her commitment to service with a standout varsity rowing career. Racing in the Wildcats 1v8+ boat, Bennett helped earn a gold medal at the 2019 SIRA Championships and a victory over Kansas in her final Sunflower Showdown. 
During her time at K-State, Bennett has served as chair of Community Outreach for SAAC, taken part in National Girls and Women in Sports Day and volunteered at the Flint Hills Discovery Center among an impressive list of projects throughout Manhattan.
The Kansas City native said her favorite moments of service are when she has the opportunity to work with children. 
“When I think about the kind of impact that someone in my position could have on a young girl who isn’t sure she wants to continue in a sport, I think I’ve always enjoyed that,” Bennett said. 
With a mom who is equally committed to working with young athletes and service projects throughout her community, Bennett made giving back a priority during her college career – something she said K-State student-athletes of the future will be in a position to continue. 
“Get involved in Cats for Cans and Special Olympics and things where you really get to interact with the community,” Bennett said. “That’s where you get a different perspective and use our platform to help other people. As you get older, applying for things like Cats Across Continents, you can connect deeper with your fellow student-athletes and communities around the world.”

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Source: Kansas State Sports