James and Helmuth Honored with Natalie Steele and Gates-Howard Awards
UPLAND, Ind. – Lauren James and Alex Helmuth were named the winners of Taylor’s annual Natalie Steele and Gates-Howard Awards, which recognize TU’s top senior female and male student-athletes for excellence in competition, academics, character and leadership. Student-athletes are nominated for the prestigious honor and voted on by the Taylor head coaches.
James was named the Natalie Steele Award recipient and is set to graduate with a degree in computer science and mathematics-interdisciplinary. James currently boasts a cumulative grade-point average of 3.82. For her excellence in academics, James has secured one CoSIDA Academic All-District award and will notch her second NAIA Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Crossroads League honors later this spring.
The on-court performance from James was equally as impressive, as the sharp-shooting guard was a two-time First-Team All-CL standout and played to Third-Team NAIA All-American recognition as a junior. James was a part of 118 victories with the TU women’s basketball program, setting the program record and was the 27th player in program history to surpass 1,000-career points before ending with 1,038.
“Lauren is known by her nickname, LJ, and she has had a great career on and off the court,” reflected Taylor head women’s basketball coach Jody Martinez. “She has made great impressions with the Taylor community and beyond. LJ has completed an internship with the San Francisco 49ers, was recently hired by the Indiana Pacers and is planning to continue her education this fall as a graduate assistant for the women’s basketball team at Georgia Tech. LJ is and will continue to be a great ambassador for Taylor Athletics and Taylor University.”
Alex Helmuth was named the Gates-Howard Award recipient and is set to graduate with a degree in biochemistry and a cumulative GPA of 3.87. During his time in Upland, Helmuth has picked up four USTFCCCA Scholar-Athlete honors, two CoSIDA Academic All-District awards, one CoSIDA Academic All-American nod, one NAIA Scholar-Athlete honor and one Academic All-Crossroads League recognition, with several more academic honors likely joining that list later this spring.
In addition to his work in the classroom, Helmuth’s success in a Trojan uniform has led to four NAIA All-American honors and eight All-Crossroads League honors during his time with the TU cross country and track and field programs. Helmuth also owns a pair of school records, boasts one individual CL Championship, one team CL Championship and one team NAIA National Championship which preceded him being voted the Taylor Male Athlete of the Year in 2020-2021.
“Alex is the best of the best,” stated TU head track and field coach Derek Gay. “He was the lead runner for the team that brought Taylor its first-ever NAIA National Championship. I am not sure what more needs to be said regarding his athletic career. On top of that, he is a phenomenal student, a selfless leader and a man of God. It is no surprise to me that Alex is this year’s recipient. I am proud of everything he has done here at TU and even more proud of what I know he will do when he is gone.”
Taylor head cross country coach Quinn White added, “Alex is an outstanding representative for this award. Not only has he posted some of the fastest times in Taylor history, led the team to the university’s first-ever national title and earned some outstanding academic awards, but he also works at the local diabetes clinic and scribes at Ball Memorial Hospital. Alex is an extremely well-balanced young man who does it all with excellence. I am so proud of him, and I am thankful that his teammates have helped sharpen his running and have supported him the past four years.”