Coaches > Kristin Caperton Inspiration Award

Kristin Caperton Inspiration Award

2021 Kristin Caperton award winner Julia Holdcroft and coach Carol Kelley.


2021 Kristin Caperton award winner Kate Lasko and coach Cathy Walz.

Does your team include a decathlete who has overcome great challenges and has inspired others?   See below how the USAD "village" can honor those accomplishments.

The Kristin Caperton Inspiration Award was created by the United States Academic Decathlon Board of Directors to honor a Founding Board member who demonstrated great dedication and commitment in the Academic Decathlon even during the final difficult years of her life. This award is presented to student decathletes at any level or category of competition who demonstrates a high degree of dedication, strength of character, team leadership, perseverance and commitment while overcoming significant obstacles or unusual circumstances to participate in the United States Academic Decathlon. The Board welcomes nominations from USAD coaches during the course of each competition year, and appropriate public recognition will be determined for the most deserving nominees.

During the competition's first four years, Kristin Caperton successfully obtained the financial backing required by "selling tables" to the banquet from her hospital bed. A life-threatening diagnosis of leukemia and diabetes did not deter her from providing the greatly needed support. The award has attained added significance in recognition of the inspirational nominees and individual recipients of this honor.

Often the winner of the Caperton Award has been an important catalyst in her or his team's strong performance during the USAD competition. Some winners have successes in USAD despite significant physical and/or emotional challenges.  Meeting these courageous students who have overcome blindness, deafness, and debilitating or terminal illnesses, has been an inspirational aspect of the competition.  The first recipient set a high standard. An alternate on the Louisiana team, he walked door to door to raise money for his teammates to travel to Nationals---in a full body cast on crutches! Some examples of previous winners include the following:

1. A blind decathlete successfully competed and, in the process, pioneered techniques allowing other students to do so.

2. A student with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma disease remained devoted to the USAD while undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.

3. Both winners one year were foster children, and both were feted at the banquet thanks to the coach providing transportation.

4. Despite severe visual problems from juvenile macular degeneration, a student was the highest scorer overall in the small school honor category.

5. A disadvantaged decathlete overcame homelessness, abuse, neglect, and life-threatening medical problems to become the rock of his team. He expressed his joy by doing cartwheels in the hotel lobby.

6. Even with a pathological speech disorder, a participant was selected for speech showcase.  She presented the award to another Caperton winner in a subsequent year with a flawless delivery.  She is now a lawyer with the Department of Education's disability unit.

Julia Holdcraft from Nebraska, Southwest High School, Coach Carol Kelley 
" As a visually impaired person, I've learned that life is full of challenges.  I look at challenges as fun obstacles that have helped me to prove that I can work through anything.  ACADECA provided a great place for me to get over many obstacles.  I really enjoyed being able to make a difference in my academic decathlon team and learning new things along the way.  ACADECA has become a mainstay in my high school career, and I'm very grateful for the experience.  I want to thank the USAD for this award."

Kate Lasko from Wisconsin, Pewaukee High School, Coach Cathy Walz
"What helps me get through difficult times is just knowing that pain helps build your character, and we've already made it through 100% of the bad days.  Even if you're not always able to give your 100%, getting through the day is sometimes more important.  And on those days you're not able to give your everything, being able to take a step back and take care of yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally, really helps you heal."

In addition to the prestige, the award includes a plaque and $1,500 from the USAD Board of Directors. To nominate a decathlete, coaches should complete a nomination form by clicking on the link below and submitting that form to by the deadline.

Kristin-Caperton-1.jpg Suzanne-2.jpg
Kristin Caperton                        Suzanne Roberts
Founder, USAD                         Founder, USAD
                                                  Creator of the Kristin Caperton Inspiration Award