A leader on and off the field

By ERIK SOKOLOWSKI

Cherry Hill’s Jordan Bannar was recently honored as a Woman of the Year at this year’s New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women National Girls and Women in Sports Day Celebration.

One of the top scholar-athletes in Camden County College’s Class of 2011, Bannar was one of 40 female student-athletes from throughout the Garden State to be recognized. The pre-nursing major has successfully balanced academic excellence with outstanding athletic achievement by performing brilliantly both inside and outside the classroom.

According to Bannar, her family’s support is what has driven her on the field and in the classroom.

“My mom (Kathy) is one of the people who has helped me in my career,” Bannar said, “and been supportive of everything I’ve done.”

And softball simply comes naturally to her.

“I started playing tee ball when I was 5,” Bannar said. “My dad (Michael) was coaching for a long time, and my brother (Jared) played baseball. I just followed in their footsteps, and fell in love with the sport.”

The Camden County College standout continued with baseball until age 10, at which time she started playing for Cherry Hill Eastern, now CHYAA.

Bannar, who entered Camden County College as a New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) recipient, has maintained a 3.83 grade-point average and a place on the President’s List. She received the Halpern Family Scholarship during last year’s Camden County College Academic Awards and Scholarship Ceremony.

More than 800 people attended the NJAIAW National Girls and Women in Sports Day Celebration banquet. The event was held at Seton Hall University and included presentation of a commemorative clock to every honoree.

Student-athletes from each of New Jersey’s two- and four-year institutions of higher education were recognized during the event. Camden County College’s selection committee chose Bannar to receive the award because of her academic success, her athletic excellence and the leadership she has shown both in class and on the playing field.

“It’s really a balancing act to be able to maintain academic excellence — particularly in a demanding program like pre-nursing — while being a standout athlete and a leader on the field,” said Bill Bartley, Camden County College’s assistant athletic director. “Jordan is a wonderful young lady and a source of pride for Camden County College.”

And Bannar admits, it isn’t easy.

“It’s really hard,” Bannar said, “there is so much you really need to account for. You have to map out every second of your time and schedule, and be really disciplined”

The Cherry Hill West grad, who is member of the 100 Hit Club, with 104, was named second team all conference her junior year and first team all conference in her senior year, almost called it a career with her departure from West.

“I was going to focus on school,” Bannar said. “But, my dad said I should stick with it because he knew how happy it made me, and I wanted to make dad proud.”

It was a good decision on her part.

During the 2010 softball season, Bannar led her team to the semi-finals of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Championship. She batted .515, with an on-base percentage of .579 and a slugging percentage of .711 and earned first-team All-Garden State Athletic Conference and All-Region XIX honors. This year, she is serving as a team captain.

And while things are tougher playing at a higher level, she says the experience is rewarding.

“It’s a lot more intense,” Bannar said of playing at the next level. “Now you are seeing people from all over the state, and branching out and going go to a lot of different states, but I played ASA, so I am kind of used to it. And it’s a really good experience to meet people from all over the place.”

While one thing is certain, that Bannar will be attending Rutgers-Camden in the fall, Bannar’s future is wide open.

“Nursing is rigorous,” Bannar said, “but I would love to stay a part of softball. I’d hate to give it up, because it’s such a big part life.”