FAYETTEVILLE – The Razorback Athletic Department introduced a new competition for its student-athletes prior to the 2009-10 academic year when it announced plans for the Lee Spencer Cup, an award that is given to the Razorback team that best displays the goals of distinction in the classroom, academic competition, personal development and community service.
Competition for the first Lee Spencer Cup was fierce throughout the year with the soccer team eventually gathering more than 3,000 points and winning the inaugural award for last year. The Razorbacks will be recognized at the football game against Texas-El Paso.
"It takes leadership to get a team involved in community service projects," head coach Erin Aubry says. "When you have two energetic leaders like Camille Flores and Britni Williams who say ‘let’s go do this, it will be fun,’ it makes you want to follow them and be involved. We’re all competitive and we were ecstatic about winning the contest, but more important than that was the spirit of the Lee Spencer Cup, which was to be student athletes, and to give back and be involved in the community."
The Lee Spencer Cup was established in 2009 through the gift of Greg and Hannah Lee, long-time friends of Lee Spencer and his family. The couples were very close over the years and, after losing their friend, hoped to do something with the Razorbacks in his honor.
"I think [Lee] would get a huge kick out of [the competition]," Hannah Lee said when thinking about what her friend Lee might say about the competitiveness of the Razorbacks for a trophy in his name. "Lee enjoyed competition. I think everyone is interested in the Razorbacks’ athletic ability. However, this gives the athletes an opportunity to get out into the community and do some good that people can see. That will help them to be well-rounded as individuals. They obviously spend a lot of time practicing and on school work. I think that it is good for them and also good for the community to see them in a different light."
Spencer was a huge Razorback fan, and a regular at football games and many other Arkansas sporting events. His devotion to the Razorbacks was part of the inspiration for the award.
"The idea was to contribute to something benefiting Razorback athletes beyond just their athletic exposure and training," Greg Lee added. "When we first approached [Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics] Jeff [Long] about wanting to do something in Lee’s memory, our first thought was to endow a scholarship, but he spoke about how he thought there was a need in this type of a program and how it could benefit the athletes. It seemed to fit our interests in doing something in Lee’s memory and thinking it would be something he would like."
The year-long competition between the Razorback teams begins in September and awards points for athletic achievement, the percentage of team members participating in student-athlete leadership and personal development, the percentage of team members earning community service volunteer hours and the number of team members participating in spirit events for other teams.
"We are excited about the establishment of the Lee Spencer Cup to recognize the outstanding achievements of our more than 460 student-athletes," Long said when the award was announced in August of 2009. "The competition is designed to promote student-athlete involvement in campus-wide programming, community service, leadership and personal development while preparing our student-athletes for life after athletics."
Regular updates to the Spencer Cup standings were given at monthly Razorback Athletic staff meetings and were met with cheers and groans from the head coaches who battled for the top spot.Eventually, Aubry and her soccer team prevailed in the competition mainly on the strength of her team’s approach to community service.
In the final standings, soccer won with 3,091.28 points, followed by swimming and diving (2,637.96), women’s golf (2,564.93), gymnastics (2,345.59), volleyball (1,944.60) and football (1,671.13).