Three North Carolina student-athletes were among the 29 inductees announced Friday as UNC's Order of the Golden Fleece tapped its newest members. Jonathan Cooper (football), Krista Gross (women's basketball) and Meghan Lyons (field hockey), all seniors, were chosen for induction into the University's oldest honorary society.
Members are selected based upon service to Carolina, as reflected in scholarship, motivation, creativity, loyalty, and leadership in academic and extracurricular pursuits. Founded in 1904 to unite student leaders at UNC, inductees are generally seniors but juniors, graduate students, faculty and alumni also eligible for membership.
Cooper, a communication studies major from Wilmington, N.C. leaves UNC as one of the most decorated offensive linemen in school history. A team captain as a senior, he won the 2012 ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, became Carolina's first Outland Trophy finalist, and will have his jersey honored in Kenan Stadium.
Gross, a biology major from Charlotte, leads UNC in rebounding this season. She is a team captain for the Tar Heels, who currently are competing in the NCAA Tournament.
Lyons, a business journalism major from Wilmington, Del., helped UNC to four NCAA Championship games and a title in 2009. She also was part of two Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. She serves as president of UNC's Student-Athlete Advisory Council and has been very involved in campus life during her four years at UNC.
Lyons is the fourth Tar Heel field hockey player in the past six years to earn induction into the University's oldest honorary society, following field hockey alums Katelyn Falgowski (2012), Danielle Forword (2010) and Rachel Dawson (2008). Cindy Werley was inducted in 1998 after having been named National Player of the Year in back-to-back years. Coach Karen Shelton also is a member, having been inducted in 2002 for her achievements as the UNC coach.
"Meghan's level of campus involvement during her time at UNC has been extraordinary," Shelton said. "I've never had a member of our team become more ingrained in campus life than Meghan has, and I'm really proud of her for doing that. She represents our team so well, and she has made UNC a better place. I'm thrilled that she has been inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece - it's a great honor, and Meghan is as deserving of it as any student I've known.
Following are the citations read at the induction for Cooper, Gross and Lyons.
For his leadership of the football team and exceptional service to children in the Chapel Hill community. On the field, Jonathan is one of the most talented offensive linemen in recent memory. He was named a consensus All-American, first-team All-ACC, and voted best offensive lineman on the team. A captain of the team, Jonathan started 43 games in his career, the most of any active offensive lineman in the ACC, and will have his jersey honored in Kenan Stadium. Jonathan, affectionately called "Coop" by his teammates, is widely known to be an exceptional athlete. But friends and coaches attest that he is as humble as he is talented, as kind and gregarious off the field as he is tenacious on the gridiron. With a passion for mentoring children, Jonathan spent every Friday before home games volunteering at the Children's Hospital. He was often found at multiple community elementary and middle schools reading Dr. Seuss to children, working with football teams, playing at field days, speaking to students about Black History Month, or mentoring a group of boys, discussing leadership, scholarship, and service in a group he calls "The Man Cave." For this, and many other reasons, the Order of the Golden Fleece proudly taps Jonathan Cooper
For her dedication to and outstanding leadership of the UNC Women's Basketball team both on and off the court. Krista Gross has served as a captain of the Women's basketball team for the last three years. Known for her toughness, exceptional leadership, and resiliency, she is one of the few remaining members of her recruitment class, serving as a thread of continuity for the team during several seasons of transition and loss of key players. Her gifts on the basketball court have earned her opportunities of representing UNC in several games of NCAA tournament play, playing for the Finland national team over the summer, and making appearances at the EuroBasket Tournament and World University Games. Furthermore, Krista is a model student-athlete, finding joy inexcelling in difficult courses leading her to a career as a physician. Highly regarded by her teammates, classmates, and coaches, she is an outstanding scholar and athlete who has made lasting contributions on the basketball court, community, and the classroom. For these and other accomplishments, the Order of the Golden Fleece proudly taps Krista Gross
For her leadership and contagious passion within Carolina Athletics and the greater university community. As a four-year member of the varsity field hockey team and two-time national champion, Meghan has served as a strong leader and ambassador for athletics during her time at Carolina. She served as the two-year president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, in which she engaged with policy and decision-making related to UNC student-athletics.
Meghan currently serves as the only student member of the Carolina Strategic Plan Advisory Committee, representing thousands of student athletes in crafting and authoring a strategic plan for Carolina Athletics. While her accomplishments in the athletic realm are beyond impressive, her commitment to the greater good of the university and the community is far-reaching as well. Meghan has worked tirelessly as President of Carolina Dreams, an organization that connects children in treatment at the NC Children's Hospital with UNC student-athletes. Additionally, she founded the Sun Safety Project to increase awareness of sun safety and skin cancer risks while collecting and providing sunscreen to the local homeless population. A true scholar-athlete, Meghan's character, genuine leadership, and humility have earned the respect of fellow student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. For these and other accomplishments, the Order of the Golden Fleece proudly taps Meghan Lyons.