Degen, Wheeler Named Kentucky’s SEC Brad Davis Community Service Award Winners
Kentucky baseball’s Alex Degen and swimming’s Kaitlynn Wheeler are the school’s Brad Davis Community Service Award winners for 2022-23, the Southeastern Conference announced Thursday.
Each is eligible to be named the SEC’s overall winners later this month. The school winners will each receive a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship provided by the SEC. The overall Community Service Leaders of the Year will each receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship.
The SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship is named for former Associate Commissioner Brad Davis. Davis succumbed to cancer on March 2, 2006. He had been a member of the SEC staff since 1988, first serving as an assistant commissioner until 1994 when he was promoted to associate commissioner.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander from Hunterdon, New Jersey recently made the decision to medically retire from baseball but remain with the program as a student assistant coach. He finished his career with a 3-1 record and one save in 32 appearances. He posted a 4.30 earned run average in three seasons and was on his way to a breakthrough season in 2020 (2.51 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 14.1 innings) when the campaign was cut short by Covid-19.
Degen was incredibly accomplished off the field as well, where he serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for 2022-23, was a two-time member of the Southeastern Conference Community Service Team and in 2021 was inducted into UK’s prestigious Frank G. Ham Society of Character.
Degen will graduate this May with a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the Martin School of Public Policy and an undergraduate certificate in financial planning from the Gatton College of Business and Economics. He earned a BA degree in social work in 2021 from the College of Social Work and a BS in business administration in 2022 from the Gatton College of Business and Economics.
Wheeler has spent four years in the pool at Kentucky, accumulating numerous accolades including four All-America selections and an NCAA silver medal in the 800 freestyle relay in 2021. The senior was a part of the program’s first ever SEC Championship her sophomore season and is a two-time all-conference honoree. During the 2022-23 season, Wheeler served as a team captain on the women’s side.
A native of Loami, Ill, Wheeler has been an active participant in the UK community during her time in the Bluegrass. She served as an officer on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was inducted into the UK Athletics Frank G. Ham Society of Character this past year. Wheeler has been involved in numerous volunteer programs, working with organizations such as God’s Pantry, The Salvation Army and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
Wheeler is highly accomplished academically having earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication this past December. She is a three-time CSCAA Scholar All-American First Team selection.
Degen’s honors at UK include:
- Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, 2023
- Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), 2022-23
- SEC Academic Honor Roll (2022)
- 2021 UK Athletics Frank G. Ham Society of Character Inductee
- SEC Community Service Team (2020, 2021)
- SEC Academic Honor Roll (2020, 2021, 2022)
- Dean’s List (Spring 2020)
- First-Team All-Coastal Plain League (2019)
- SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll (2019)
Wheeler’s honors at UK include:
- 2022-23 SAAC Historian
- 2023 UK Athletics Frank G. Ham Society of Character
- 20222-23 Swim & Dive Captain
- Two-time NCAA qualifier
- 2021 NCAA silver medalist in the 800 Freestyle Relay
- Four-time All-America selection (3x 800 free relay, 1x 200 freestyle)
- 2021 SEC Champion in the 800 Freestyle Relay
- Three-time CSCAA Scholar All-American First Team (2020, 2021, 2022)
- Two-time All-SEC honoree
- Ranks inside the program’s all-time top ten in four individual events
- Part of the program’s first SEC Championship winning team in 2021