BERKELEY – California senior guard Avigiel Cohen has been named as a nominee for the second-annual AllState WBCA Good Works Team, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced Tuesday. The award recognizes a select group of college basketball student-athletes who represent the sport's finest in the areas of leadership and charitable achievements amongst their peers.
“I’m honored to be nominated for this award,” Cohen said. “It’s so amazing to represent Cal not only for basketball but for something like the Good Works team.”
Cohen has a made it a mission to be active and stay involved on the campus of the University of California. In Berkeley, Cohen spends time as a tutor, serves on the board of the Cal Athlete Gay Straight Alliance (CALSAGSA) and recently signed up to teach a class in the public health department as a part of the Student-Athlete Mentor Program (SAM).
However, some of her greatest contributions have grown from her faith and her status as a student-athlete from Israel. The only woman in 2010 to receive a waiver from the Israeli military to allow her to first gain an education in the United States, Cohen has been active in the Jewish community both in Berkeley and across the entire UC system. She is currently one of three students to serve on the 20-person board of the Berkeley Hillel. Consisting mainly of Jewish professors and donors, the board of the Berkeley Hillel meets to discuss issues on campus with a goal of promoting educational, cultural, social and religious events for the Berkeley Jewish community. Each year, three students are selected based on their involvement in the community, and her credentials allowed Cohen the opportunity to serve on the board.
Her involvement in the Jewish community on campus eventually led her to push for and promote the establishment of both the Berkeley Club of Israel and a UC Alumni Group in Israel in the summer of 2013. When outgoing UC President Mark Yudof was invited to speak at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem from June 18-20, Cohen did research and discovered that there had never been an alumni group established in Israel for alums of the UC system. With an alumni base of nearly 600 people, Cohen began working on establishing an association to unite Jewish graduates of all 12 schools in the UC system. The culmination of her work led to the establishment of the system-wide UC Jewish Alumni Group, and one of the first reunions was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv in July.
“Since the beginning I knew that I would be involved with the Jewish community at Cal,” Cohen said. “That was one of the main reasons I came to Berkeley. That’s why I’m a board member of the Hillel, and I like to make sure I stay involved in community service opportunities outside of basketball. Being in Berkeley you’re exposed to so much. It’s hard to not be involved.”
While jump shots and rebounds earn recognition on the hardwood, the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team helps tell the stories of good taking place off the court that often go unnoticed. It is those players who demonstrate the exceptional ability to balance academics with athletics while donating their limited free time to serving others who have been nominated by their respective colleges and universities for this prestigious honor.
From the 84 WBCA nominees, special voting panels will select a 10-member team comprised of five student-athletes from the NCAA Division I level and five student-athletes from NCAA Divisions II, III and the NAIA. WNBA basketball star Tamika Catchings will headline the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team® voting panel. The final roster of 20 award recipients will be unveiled in February.
Members of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team® will be invited by Allstate, an official corporate partner of the NCAA®, to the 2014 WBCA Convention and 2014 NCAA® Women's Final Four® in Nashville, where they will participate in a community project in the city.