Senior garnishes accolade for collegiate achievement

The School of Physical Education, Wellness and Sport Studies announced Marine Cpl. David Byington Jr. as its NASPE Senior of the Year for 2005 for physical education majors on Thursday.

The award includes $500 for travel expenses to Chicago and recognition at NASPE’s (National Association for Sport and Physical Education) annual conference to be held in April where educators, researchers and professionals nationwide will discuss and present the latest research in the fields of sports and physical education.

“We had five finalists, all who were outstanding, and David was selected as the winner,” said Herman Weinberg, the school’s acting director.

Seniors were nominated based on scholarship, leadership and professional service qualifications.

Weinberg said Byington balanced academic success and extracurricular involvement such as coaching and helping children in the community, with an active career in the Marine Corps Reserves.

“He was good before he left and he’s good back,” Weinberg said. “People think that all P.E. majors need to know is how to play games. (But) it’s all about the development of kids and how to meet the developmental needs of children.”

Although Byington said his six-month tour of Kuwait in 2003 increased his discipline and focus, teaching physical education was a long-time goal.

“I believe a healthy heart and body create a healthy mind,” he said. “It instills teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship.

“It creates confidence … gives a sense of purpose to the children for living a healthy lifestyle.”

“There are a lot of physical education professionals who roll the ball out in gym and say, ‘Go play’. That is something that USF is trying to change.”

Byington plans to pursue a master’s degree in educational leadership, and Weinberg said attending the conference will offer Byington multiple networking opportunities.

Other finalists were John Boatright, Sonja Cinnamon, Joy Fan and Tina Madson.