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Kleinschnitz a finalist for prestigious award

March 15, 2010
By MIKE MATHISON, Sports editor

The V Foundation for Cancer Research has announced the 10 finalists for the tenth annual V Foundation Comeback Award.

One of those finalists is Franciscan University of Steubenville's Thomas Kleinschnitz, a junior business marketing major from Clermont, Fla.

Kleinschnitz sustained a severe eye and head injuries in two collisions - one a head-to-head collision - during the last rugby match of the spring 2009 season.

His doctors decided to let the bones heal from his numerous fractures without surgery, with no guarantee he would play sports again.

Though no longer able to play rugby, he was cleared to play his other varsity sport, basketball, for the spring 2010 semester.

Wearing protective gear, Kleinschnitz averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a member of the Division III team.

The other finalists are: Dallas Blocker, Youngstown State; D'Andre Bell, Georgia Tech; Brianna Culberson, Denver; Kelvin Davis, San Diego State; Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska; Sanchez Hughley, Florida Atlantic; Kristen Lucci, Waynesburg and Dana Pernell Smith II, Longwood.

The annual award is open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all divisions.

It is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma.

Student-athletes are nominated by their athletics department representative.

Davis was nominated by BYU head coach Dave Rose, marking the first time a student-athlete was nominated by the coach of an opposing team. Both Davis and Rose are cancer survivors.

The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN's inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano's "Don't Give Up. . .Don't Ever Give Up!" motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award was created.

"We continue to be amazed at the strength and resilience of the student-athletes who are nominated for The V Foundation Comeback Award," said V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano. "These young people are outstanding student-athletes who have faced adversity and challenges with determination and strength."

"This is the tenth anniversary of the award, and, once again, the nominees capture the 'Never Give Up' spirit of The V Foundation. I would be honored to have my brother's name remembered with each and every one of them."

Past recipients of the award are: Katie Douglas, Purdue (2001); Kristin Koetsier, Western Michigan (2002); Justin Allen, Arizona State (2003); Jamie Carey, Texas (2004); Kayla Burt, Washington (2005); Grant Dykstra, Western Washington (2006); the United States Military Academy Women's Basketball Team (2007); Nicole Hester, Drexel (2008) and Tiffara Steward, Farmingdale State (2009).

BYU's Jimmer Fredette can flat play. Watch him chew up Florida.

West Virginia University men's basketball fans were shown again in the past few days why they should be rejoicing that Bob Huggins is patrolling the sidelines and John Beilein is at Michigan.

Huggins and his crew are the Big East tournament championships while Beilein seemed to forget that Evan Turner is the best player in the nation.

You have a two-point lead with 2.2 seconds left in the game, you put your team in a 1-3-1 zone and refuse to make Turner actually make a move against defensive pressure as he buries a bomb to give Ohio State a come-from-behind win and an eventual Big 10 tournament title.

WVU fans should not be disappointed the Mountaineers are not a No. 1 seed. But, they should be disappointed it is in the same region as Kentucky. If the Wildcats were the second-best No. 1 seed, that means the Mountaineers are the second-worst No. 2 seed.

And to hear selection chairman Dan Guerrero say WVU was considered for a No. 1 seed shows that the committee still doesn't get it.

The team, though, that really got the short end of the No. 2 seeds is Ohio State. The Buckeyes have to get past Kansas to get to the Final Four. That means they are the worst of the No. 2 seeds.

That is a joke.

Ohio State should have been in the same regionl as Syracuse and West Virginia with Duke.

Kansas State had a huge sigh of relief when the Wildcats were put in the same region as the Orangemen.

The same goes for Villanova, which is in the same region as the Blue Devils. The Wildcats were spanked by WVU, got beat by Marquette in the conference tournament and went 2-5 in their last seven games.

The fact that four teams from the Pac-10 got into the tournament is also a laugher. That conference stunk this season and had no right to get that many teams in the dance.

I will take Baylor in the South, WVU in the East, Kansas in the Midwest and, by default, Syracuse in the West.

The West region is a mess and is soft.

The Midwest region is as tough as the West is soft. Georgetown is No. 3 and Michigan State is No. 5. Wow!

I like Cornell to get to the Sweet 16 and No. 13 Siena to beat No. 4 Purdue.

Pitt, a No. 3 seed, really?

I had no problem with the San Diego Chargers dumping Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets. The only numbers you need to know about Cromartie are 7-6-5 - seven children with six women in five states.

Not a very reliable teammate.

The next Travis Henry, maybe?

Cleveland should be thrilled that Jake Delhomme will be the starting quarterback next year. I agree that Delhomme, Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn all stunk last season, but Delhomme has been to the Super Bowl and I think the only way Quinn will get there is be being somebody's backup.

And, that may happen now in Denver as Quinn was shipped to the Broncos for fullback Peyton Hillis, a 2011 draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.

Delhomme and Seneca Wallace will be your quarterbacks come September. They are a huge upgrade.

Browns fans should be really happy with Mike Holmgren.

If the number of Super Bowls you have won equals the number of sexual assault charges you have against you and that number is not zero, something is wrong.

For the second week in a row, I thought it was rather fun trying to listen to the Penguins game on Friday while the regular ESPN programming was going on at the same time on WSTV-1340AM.

Can someone please flip a switch?

Think that would ever happen on a Friday night in the fall?

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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