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Athletics served as the best classroom in my life.” These words, spoken by 2006 NNU alumnus and student-athlete Tyler Layne, signified the vision behind the first annual CRU Awards showcasing both current student-athletes and alumni.

A longtime vision of Athletic Director Rich Sanders, the CRU (short for Crusader) Awards became a reality April 2012 thanks to a community partnership between NNU’s athletic department and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network (NMFN).

Athletics served as the best classroom in my life and taught me life lessons that I apply today. Having to be accountable to my team, or in my sport (track), the clock, was a great learning experience for me,” Layne said.

Hilary Hughes and Layne, both members of the Northwestern Mutual team, were welcomed back to campus to honor student-athlete excellence both on the fields of play and in the community.

While there were numerous awards and accolades recognized during the evening, most notable were the Hopkins-Humphrey Female Athlete Award and the Orrin E. Hills Award. Both honors were presented to senior athletes who embody the effort and passion for NNU of their namesake’s tradition.

In honor of Faculty Emerita Martha Hopkins and NNU Board of Trustee Member/Alumna Minnie (Humphrey) Richards, Joy Warrington received the Hopkins-Humphrey award for completing her collegiate career as a six-time Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) individual event champion and the holder of three NNU school records.

Maurus Hope claimed the Orrin E. Hills Sports Trophy, as he amassed a career record that included four GNAC individual event championships and the 2009 GNAC Indoor Track Freshman-of-the-Year award, and was named the 2012 GNAC Male Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. This award was named in honor of alumnus Orrin E. Hills who served NNU for 19 years as a coach and athletic director and is a member of the NNU Athletic Hall of Fame.

THE CRU CARPET

See who showed up this year for the CRU Awards. Select the 'i' in the upper left-hand corner for captions.

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Layne provided the keynote address for the CRU Awards event and shared that his great-grandparents moved to the Kuna, Idaho, area specifically so his grandfather could attend NNC.

“I’m a third-generation NNU/NNC product, and I am thankful for my NNU experience because of the people who surrounded me … It helped shape my life,” Layne added. “I feel honored to come back to campus and help recognize the current student-athletes.”

We are excited to partner with NNU because the student-athletes at NNU have a value structure unlike any other," said Brian Bailey.

Layne, who graduated from NNU with a degree in physics and holds four NNU Top-10 all-time performances on the track, continues excellence in his position as a wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual. Awarded the Platinum Leader of the West award this year, Layne was the highest-producing financial advisor in the 16-state West region, and in 2010 he was honored as a West region Top-50 performer at NMFN.

“Athletics served as the best classroom in my life and taught me life lessons that I apply today. Having to be accountable to my team, or in my sport (track), the clock was a great learning experience for me,” Layne said.

Hughes echoed these sentiments about NNU: “My soccer coaches here were pivotal in helping me start my career and even find my first internship.” Hughes graduated with a degree in kinesiology and was a two-time GNAC All-Conference Award winner on the field and a three-time GNAC All-Academic team member in the classroom. Successfully converting her on-the-field drive and focus, she is now the director of recruiting and development for NMFN.

As the festivities of the CRU Awards banquet continued, Brian Bailey, managing partner for Northwestern Mutual Idaho, commented to the more than 425 student-athletes, coaches and boosters in attendance: “We are excited to partner with NNU because the student-athletes at NNU have a value structure unlike any other. You just don’t see the values in everyday society that you see when you are on this campus, and that is exciting.”

Bailey continued, “The opportunity to be a student-athlete at NNU is a real blessing in your life.”

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