Jake Czechowski was recently named the Ronald W. Plassman Gold Standard Award honoree, the Turnstone Center and the U.S. Association for Blind Athletes announced.
An employee of USABA and a Fort Wayne resident, Czechowski is head coach of U.S. Women’s Goalball and runs the USA Goalball Resident Program at the Goalball Center of Excellence at the Turnstone Center.
Czechowski’s nearly 20 years of contributions to goalball and the Paralympic movement include international competitive successes of the U.S. women’s team; navigating the USA Women’s National Team through the pandemic to a silver medal finish at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games; his involvement in adaptive sports camps in Arizona and other grassroots education opportunities throughout the country that promote goalball and adaptive sports; empowerment of USA National Goalball Team athletes; and his investment in community support for the sport of goalball.
“As the first recipient of the Ronald W. Plassman Gold Standard Award, Jake’s personal and professional accomplishments stood out amongst the list of nominees,” Mark Plassman said in a news release.
“My father recognized early on that Jake’s passion for helping others and the strong work ethic he embodies, makes him so deserving of this award. He has a natural ability to lead, teach and most importantly impact others in a way my dad was so good at doing. Our family is honored to have Jake receive this award in my father’s memory.”
Established in 2021, the Plassman award will be presented annually each fall to athletes, coaches and program supporters who demonstrate excellence on the field of play, sportsmanship, leadership and championing the sport of goalball.
Ronald W. Plassman was a champion of goalball, adaptive sports and the Paralympic movement. His support, specifically for goalball athletes, led to the creation of the Goalball Center of Excellence, the first training site of its kind in the United States and now the home of the USA Men’s and Women’s Goalball resident training program.
DNR officer receives national plant award
Eric Biddinger, a nursery and compliance officer with the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology, received the Carl Carlson Distinguished Achievement Award in Regulatory Plant Protection.
The award comes from the National Plant Board, a nonprofit organization of plant pest regulatory agencies.
Biddinger is the first inspector from Indiana to receive the honor, which is a national recognition of field level inspectors’ service. The Horticulture Inspection Society nominated Biddinger for the Carlson award after presenting him its Robert McAdams Award, which recognizes superior achievement of professional development in horticulture inspection. Biddinger serves as central regional secretary for HIS.
Biddinger has been with DNR since 2006 and serves Carroll, Cass, Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, Miami, and St. Joseph counties, managing USDA compliance as well as the state quarantines of spongy moth, Asian long-horned beetle, spotted lanternfly, kudzu, and other regulated and exotic pests.
Biddinger also maintains division technologies and has developed nursery and phytosanitary databases, which have helped all DEPP inspectors maintain better records.