June 11, 2013
DALLAS, Texas - For his unrivaled perseverance as a student-athlete and work as an advocate and fundraiser for pediatric bone cancer, Rice University men's golfer James Ragan was one of 12 student-athletes recognized by Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky on Tuesday as recipients of the C-USA Spring Spirit of Service award.
Head coach Justin Emil said of the honor, "I can't think of a more deserving guy than James for this award. He has made an enormous impact on our team and on everyone around him. Everyone that comes in contact with him is influenced in a positive way. He's a great guy and an unbelievable athlete and has a big heart. He's very deserving of this. He has worked very hard the last couple years and we are so happy to have him on the team."
Ragan founded the Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation, a regionally recognized philanthropic group that works to raise funds and awareness for pediatric bone cancer, in 2007 and has raised more than $750,000 for pediatric cancer research through the group in the past six years.
Since his 2006 diagnosis with Osteosarcoma, Ragan has also served as a national spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids organization and became the first MD Anderson Cancer Center patient to serve as a special ambassador for the nationally renowned treatment facility.
The Corpus Christi native's philanthropy began on his 14th birthday, when he threw a toga party and asked each attendee to donate $50 to cancer research in lieu of presents. The party has become an annual tradition and helped plant the seeds for Triumph Over Kid Cancer.
On the course, Ragan has made the most of his playing opportunities with a 76.83 career stroke average. He made his sophomore debut at February's Rice Intercollegiate, where he notched a 77-73-79--229 (+13) to finish 52nd overall. His 2012-13 stroke average was 76.33, among the best on the Owl squad. His golf accolades began to roll in even before arriving on campus, as he was the inaugural winner of the Texas Legend Junior Tour's James A. Ragan Sportsmanship Award.
Ragan has also excelled in the classroom, as he is a two-time member of the President's Honor Roll at Rice and was also a 2012 Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll member.
The C-USA Spirit of Service Award is designed to recognize the community service efforts of the league's student-athletes, based upon significant community service, good academic standing and participation in their elected sport. The Spirit of Service award is presented three times throughout the season, with these honorees representing Conference USA's spring sports: baseball, equestrian, men's & women's golf, softball, men's and women's outdoor track, women's rowing, and men's & women's tennis.
Michael Kutzler (football) and Lilian Nwora (women's track and field) were honored as Rice's fall and winter sport award winners.