Claire Kolff '20 finalist for the Wooden Citizenship Cup
Denison University senior Claire Kolff has been named a finalist for the 16th annual Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup as announced by the award’s presenting organization, Athletes for a Better World. Kolff is one of four finalists for the award and the only finalist from an NCAA Division III institution. The other three finalists are Bria Matthews (Georgia Tech), Trent Forrest (Florida State) and Ryan Culhane (Dayton).
A native of Draper, Utah, she is a Dean’s List student double-majoring in education and psychology. A three-year starter as a member of the Denison women’s soccer team, Kolff appeared in 54 matches, scoring 12 goals and five assists while leading the Big Red to two conference championships and one NCAA Division III Tournament appearance. In 2019, Kolff served as a team captain on the heels of a second-team all-conference season as a junior.
“Claire is down to earth, completely unassuming, and 100% about team,” noted Denison head women’s soccer coach Gail Murphy. “What I admire her most for is her compassion. Claire is committed to helping others and her service work has been centered on helping children.”
Kolff’s introduction to service occurred in 2015 when she was selected to take part in a two-week humanitarian trip to Chamba, India with the organization, Youth Making a Difference based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. While in India, Kolff’s group worked in five different Indian public schools, teaching English as a second language. This experience sparked Kolff’s passion for servant leadership that has blossomed during her time at Denison.
At Denison, Kolff’s career aspirations became focused on education after spending one year and two summers as an intern with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools. The program is designed to serve young people from low-income backgrounds who might be living in food-insecure households. The program provides children with breakfast, lunch, and a snack each day and is intended to curb summer reading loss. After interning in the summer of 2018, Kolff was invited back in the summer of 2019 and was asked to serve as a peer mentor for the rest of her colleagues, all who would be starting their first year in the program.
During winter break in 2018, Kolff participated in a student-run excursion through the Break-Away organization and traveled to East Saint Louis for a week-long trip focused on improving urban education and homelessness. Kolff and nine other Denison students spent 10 hours a day prepping food and hygiene kits and delivering them throughout the homeless communities in addition to volunteering in the Sister Thea Bowman School classroom to improve students’ math and reading skills.
Kolff has also been instrumental in the incorporation of service work and philanthropy into the varsity women’s soccer program at Denison. She initiated a partnership with her team and the organization “GO” Soccer, which stands for Granville Outreach. The local community organization sponsored by the Granville Recreation District gives children with special needs the opportunity to participate in sports.
“Claire’s results are spectacular by bringing health, joy, and confidence to so many children,” said Granville Outreach coach Chris Anderson. “A sense of community is being developed between Denison and these families as Claire has invited our children to attend and be recognized at Denison sporting events. Claire is an exceptional citizen, leader, and advocate. Her selfless dedication and partnership with GO Sports are making a lasting impact on these children and their families.”
She has also assisted in other philanthropic efforts through Special Olympics, A Call to College, Licking County Jobs and Family Services and the Court Appointed Special Advocates that work to find safe homes for abused and neglected children.