CHARLOTTE, N.C.  – Winthrop women's soccer player Anne Cushman (Raleigh, N.C.) and Presbyterian College men's golfer Hayden Ploeger (Aiken, S.C.) have been awarded the annual Bob McCloskey Insurance Big South Conference Graduate Fellowships, it was announced today by the league office.  Bob McCloskey Insurance, a Big South Corporate Partner, will award $2,000 each to Cushman and Ploeger for their respective graduate studies on Thursday evening, June 1, as part of the conference's annual Spring Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Banquet at The Marriott Resort in Hilton Head, S.C.

The Big South Conference Graduate Fellowship Program was established by the league in the Fall of 2005 as a means of recognizing the academic excellence of Big South Conference student-athletes who intend to pursue postgraduate studies upon graduation from a Big South Conference institution.

“Bob McCloskey Insurance is once again honored to be able to continue our tradition as a proud Corporate Partner of the Big South by bestowing these scholarships to these fine student-athletes who clearly are outstanding ambassadors for the Big South,” said Rob McCloskey.  “We wish them both much success in the future.”

Cushman appeared in 54 games for the Eagles with 33 starts during her four-year career.  She tallied one goal and one assist for three points during her tenure, with her score being the game-winner against Presbyterian College in 2014.  Cushman served as team captain her senior season, and graduated with a 3.882 GPA in English.  She plans to pursue a Master's in Literature, and has already been accepted to Carnegie Mellon, Boston College, George Washington, American University and Colorado for graduate school.

During her time at Winthrop, Cushman has been a peer mentor, a writing tutor for Winthrop's L.E.A.P. Program, as well as secretary of Sigma Tau Delta and the Community Service Coordinator of Winthrop's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).  Her academic honors at Winthrop include being an Honors Program Student, earning a Tillman Scholarship and All-Eagle Team Award recognition all four years, two President's List honors and three Dean's List accolades, Big South Presidential Honor Roll three times, and receiving the Hurley Fellowship, which is awarded to Winthrop English majors to pursue academic endeavors abroad.  Cushman spent the summer of 2016 in the United Kingdom as part of her Honors Program thesis.  In addition, she presented at Winthrop's Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors during her junior and senior years.  Outside of school, Cushman volunteered with the Boys and Girls After School Programs, read to local elementary school children monthly and helped raise money for the Alex's Lemonade Stand charity organization.

Ploeger competed four years for the Blue Hose golf team, and was the squad's leader in stroke average this past season with a 75.07 clip.  He recorded his first career Top 10 finish as a senior when he tied for runner-up at the Coca-Cola Wofford Invitational -- an event that featured his collegiate-low 18-hole score of 66.  Ploeger, who tied as PC's top finisher at the 2017 Big South Men's Golf Championship, played 100 total rounds for Presbyterian during his four years and finished with a 75.80 scoring average.  He was a three-time Men's Golf All-Academic Team member, including the Men's Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2015-16.  He graduated with a 3.64 GPA in Chemistry and will pursue his Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm. D.) upon enrollment in the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy.

During his time at PC, Ploeger was an active member and worship leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as well as the men's golf representative on Presbyterian's SAAC.  A Pre-Pharmacy Club member, he interned at Sadler-Hughes Apothecary in the spring of 2016.  In addition, Ploeger has volunteered at the Aiken Regional Medical Center, volunteered as a Young Life Leader in Greenwood County, coached recreational youth soccer in Clinton, and twice participated in the Stop Hunger food drive at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton.

Nominations for the Graduate Fellowship are made by the Faculty Athletics Representative or the Chief Academic Officer at a Big South member institution, and are limited to one male and one female at each school.  To qualify for the Big South Conference Graduate Fellowship, applicants must have the following requirements:

  • Have an overall undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of 3.500 or better based on a maximum 4.000, or the equivalent in other recognized grading systems; 
  • Have competed in intercollegiate athletics as a member of a varsity team at a Big South Conference member institution; 
  • Must be either a graduating senior during the academic year of the award, or be enrolled in a graduate program at a Big South Conference institution while completing the last year of eligibility; 
  • Intend to continue academic work beyond the baccalaureate degree and enroll into a graduate degree program at a properly accredited, non-profit educational institution or into a post-baccalaureate professional degree program at a professionally accredited law school, medical school or the equivalent, without restriction as to the national site of the institution; 
  • Have evidenced superior character and superior leadership;
  • Have demonstrated that participation in athletics and community service has been a positive influence on the nominee's personal and intellectual development.  Relative success in athletics is important but not of overriding significance;
  • Enroll in a graduate degree program the term subsequent to being awarded the fellowship or present a rationale for deferred matriculation.