INDIANAPOLIS – Oakland University women’s basketball student-athlete Elena Popkey (Warren, Mich./Warren Cousino) has been named the inaugural recipient of the Horizon League’s Bobby Fong Award. Candidates for the award must be current Horizon League student-athletes or teams within the competitive year and embody the League’s core values of integrity, respect and stewardship.
“Naming the horizon league’s award for athletics, scholarship, and service after Bobby deeply honors his memory,” said his widow, Suzanne Dunham Fong. “He passionately believed that the self-discipline, determination and grit students develop in pursuing a sport should complement and enhance their work in the classroom.
“He also believed that graduates should use all that they had learned, on and off the court, to give back to the people and communities that nurtured them. Elena embodies these beliefs. Bobby would be delighted that she is the first recipient of this award.”
Popkey, who was a four-year letterwinner for Oakland from 2012-16, is a two-time Academic All-Horizon League selection, holding a 3.75 grade-point average as she works towards a master's degree in counseling. Popkey received her undergraduate degree in 2015 with a bachelor of science in marketing.
On the court, Popkey finished her career tied for the most assists in Oakland history with 483. The point guard was a two-time preseason All-Horizon League selection by the League’s coaches and media. During her tenure with the women’s basketball program, Popkey was a team captain as well as the Oakland vice president of its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Off the court, Popkey was a part of numerous service organizations and projects, prompting women’s basketball head coach Jeff Tungate to remark in his letter of reference that “If my two sons have the desire to give back the way Elena does, I will know I raised them right.”
A nominee for the WBCA Good Works Team in both her junior and senior years, Popkey participated in a variety of community service efforts during her time at Oakland. She has volunteered for Make a Difference Day, Fleece and Thank You, LOVE Rochester, ARISE Detroit, Brooksie Way, Trick or Suite, Women in Sports Day and also plays drums for the Lighthouse Worship Team, among other activities.
The award is named for the late Dr. Bobby Fong, whose decade as the President of Butler University was marked by a new core curriculum and improved campus-community relationships. Under his watch, Butler sustained an athletic program distinguished by its balance between academic achievement and competitive excellence. As Butler’s President, Dr. Fong served on the Horizon League Board of Directors from 2001-2011, including a term as its chairman.