Student-Athlete Excellence Recognized at Annual Norse Awards


Caption: Male Athlete of the Year Donovan Corn (‘23) and Female Athlete of the Year Kendra Cooper (‘23) pose for a celebratory photo during the 2023 Norse Awards on April 17. Photo courtesy of Luther College Photo Bureau

The 2023 Norse Awards occurred on April 17, in the Main Hall of the Center for Faith and Life (CFL).  The event recognized Luther student athletes and awarded those who stood out in their respective sports. Athletes from all teams — some wearing black and blue formal wear while others  strutted in jorts — were in attendance, as well as members of the Luther community.

The event was organized and hosted by Luther’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). SAAC President Jalen DenHartog (‘23) spoke about how this event even came to be.

“This year, with a new faculty advisor, much more of the work [to organize the Norse Awards] was put on SAAC to complete, which gave us a bigger leadership role,” DenHartog said. “[Everything came] together to create a memorable night for a lot of people.” 

There were many awards given throughout the night, including Female and Male Newcomer of the Year, Female and Male Athlete of the Year and Team of the Year. Awards were also given for team academic success, assistant coaching contributions, community service, memorable moments, and overall Norse pride.  Award finalists for all categories were posted on social media prior to the event, in order to spread celebration and recognition for both individual student athletes, as well as Luther’s teams. DenHartog spoke to why this event is so important within the athletic community from an insider’s perspective. 

“It’s very easy to recognize the accomplishments within your own team, but we unintentionally neglect the achievements of others,” DenHartog said. “This event allows us to acknowledge the dedication that goes on beyond ourselves and build each other up with awards based on athletic performance, academics, and community involvement.” 

Men’s Basketball captain Myke Shed (‘24) was the recipient of the Bleed Blue Award. Although getting nominated for an award was a big reason to attend, Shed talked a little about why it was personally important to him to attend this event.

“[It is important to attend] to show solidarity between the student athletes,” Shed said. “One thing we talk a lot about in our basketball team is supporting one another, whether that is your teammate or another team. It is part of our culture to go support other teams and the Norse Awards is a perfect time to do that.” 

Shed also spoke about how this was a humbling experience and that the award might be his, but he celebrates with his whole team. The Bleed Blue Award is given to the student athlete who represents leadership and sportsmanship at the highest level. 

“First, being nominated alongside [Payton Shockey (‘23)] and [Allison Reding (‘23)] was amazing, but winning it was just a very humbling experience,” Shed said. “I try my best to put others first and serve others, whether that’s friends or strangers. I really love being part of Norse athletics and seeing that joy of mine being displayed in an award form was very wholesome for me.” 

Women’s Tennis player Renata Martínez (‘25) was a finalist for Female Athlete of the Year as well as Newcomer of the Year. She said that the Norse Awards meant a lot for her as an international student, since one of the biggest reasons she initially chose Luther was  tennis. 

“I like that you can be connected with other teams,” Martínez said. “[With this event] you realize who is on other teams because normally, we do not have that opportunity. As athletes, you don’t experience the other sports besides your own and events like this help us become unified and be one team.” 

A full list of nominated student-athletes and teams can be found on Luther College Athletics’ official Instagram page, @norsesports. SAAC is also planning to publicly release all of the nominations at a later date.