The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association has announced Grace Wheeler as the recipient of the 2015 Tom Renner Associate SID Award. The award honors outstanding publicity efforts by student assistants during the 2014-15 season by MIAA member schools. Wheeler becomes just the second Alma student assistant to ever win this distinguished honor, joining Brent Willis who earned the accolade in 2010.
A native of St. Ignace, Mich. and graduate of St. Ignace LaSalle High School, Grace Wheeler worked in Alma College’s sports information office all four years she attended the school. She has performed nearly every possible responsibility within the Scots’ SID office, with the exception of internet broadcasting.
“(She) is, without a doubt, the best student worker/intern I have ever had in my 20-plus years of working in sports,” former Alma sports information director Mike Hanson said.
Wheeler began working with the Scots’ softball program as a freshman, eventually gaining the confidence to work as part of the sports information staff when Alma hosted the 2012 NCAA Division III softball regional, handling gameday responsibilities and postgame interviews.
Wheeler later became the main computer statistical inputter for Alma’s home football, volleyball, soccer and softball games, a responsibility she has held the last two years. Over the past two summers, she worked part-time in the SID office, preparing media guides and designing and laying out programs. She also took photos of Alma athletic events for three years.
Over the past year, Grace took on the responsibility of writing game stories for the Alma athletics website. During Scots’ run to the NCAA Division III softball national championships this spring, she wrote all the game recaps as well as a daily blog on the team. With some staffing changes in the Alma sports information office this spring, she served as the Scots’ primary media contact during the national championships.
In addition to her work in support of Alma athletics, Wheeler was a three-time letterwinner as a member of the Scots’ women’s basketball team. As a senior, she started all 25 games for Alma and led the team in rebounding (5.2 boards per game) and assists (48) while averaging 8.4 points per contest.
Wheeler graduated from Alma in April with a major in communications and a minor in business administration. She will attend graduate school at Central Michigan University in the fall, and has already been hired as a graduate assistant in CMU’s sports information office.
Grace Wheeler is the daughter of Betsy and Chuck Wheeler.
Tom Renner served as Hope’s sports information director for 47 years before stepping down from his position in 2013. He also was the MIAA publicist for 41 years (1967-2008) and still serves the league as its historian.