Former Clemson basketball player Bobby Conrad and former Featured Twirler Carolyn Creel are the recipients of the first Clemson Distinguished Athlete Award. The presentation was made at Clemson Memorial Stadium on Thursday night at the Clemson football game vs. Georgia Tech.
Steve Bond, a former Clemson golfer under Bobby Robinson, passed away in August after a hard-fought battle with lung cancer. Steve was very appreciative what the university had done for him and consequently, he and his wife Margaret faithfully supported the university that blessed him with so much.
Before his death, he knew he wanted to give back in a different way, a new way, and after thoughtful discussions together, the Bonds decided to create an award that recognized former athletes that embody the qualities that make Clemson such a special place.
"Steve and I felt like there were a lot of former athletes that have gone on to do great things," Margaret said, "We wanted to do something for them."
The award will be presented annually to former student-athletes who are at least 10 years removed from Clemson and will be given during a home game each year. The recipients will be given a gold ring and will have their names prominently displayed on campus.
The inaugural award will be presented to a male and female former athlete, but each award thereafter will be given to the single most deserving former athlete.
With so many distinguished former Tiger athletes, it was difficult to choose the first two recipients. However, Bobby Conrad and Carolyn Creel who were accomplished athletes while at Clemson and who have enjoyed immense success following their college careers, are the ideal representative of the first Clemson Distinguished Athletes Award.
Conrad, a former basketball star, led the Clemson men's basketball team to the Elite Eight his senior season. It remains the only season Clemson reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The point guard was a Rhodes Scholar candidate, and won the ACC's James Weaver Award, given to the league's top all-around student athlete, and Clemson's Norris Medal presented to the most outstanding all-around student at Clemson.
After graduating from Virginia Law School, Conrad worked at the United States Attorney's office and is now a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Carolyn Creel was one of the leading pioneers for women at Clemson University. In 1956, Creel won the crown of Miss Majorette of America. Creel wanted to attend college in-state, but neither Clemson nor South Carolina offered scholarships to twirlers, but a surprising phone call changed everything.
One of the most successful football coaches in Clemson history, Frank Howard called Creel deciding to give her a football scholarship to be the feature twirler in the Tiger Band. Creel would become the first female to receive a Clemson scholarship. After graduating in 1961, Creel would later become the first female alumna to receive the Clemson Distinguished Service Award in 1996.