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The Daphanie Kennedy Endowed Scholarship

The Daphanie Kennedy Endowed Scholarship
Judy and Jim Zierick

On Coach Julie Rousseau's first day at Pepperdine University, Julie attended a luncheon where she and her mother sat at the same table as Jim and Judy Zierick. The Ziericks, Malibu residents and fans of Waves athletics, asked the coach what they could do to help the women's basketball program. "Come to the games," Coach Rousseau answered.

Since that time, the Ziericks have never missed a home game and have even traveled to several away games to support the Waves. It was during those games that guard Daphanie Kennedy caught the Ziericks attention. Judy was not only impressed by Kennedy's demonstration of "such tenacity and drive on the court," but she was also impressed by Kennedy's drive in the classroom. Judy had the opportunity to be a guest speaker in one of Kennedy's classes and also participated in a class project where she was interviewed by Kennedy.

Over time a friendship developed between the Ziericks and Kennedy. Kennedy has since graduated and the Ziericks miss seeing her lead the team not only in scoring, but also in breaking the steal record. With Rousseau as the head coach, however, they enjoy watching other players follow in the all-conference player's footsteps.

To help continue the success of the women's basketball team and to recognize their admiration for Kennedy, the Ziericks have established an endowed scholarship in Kennedy's name. When asked why it was created in Kennedy's name, Judy replied, "It could have been easy to just make a general scholarship for women's basketball, but naming it after her gives her an opportunity to have footprints."

Kennedy, who graduated with a B.A. in integrated marketing communication, is the first person in her family to attend and graduate college. She accomplished this feat in four years, an achievement Judy highly admires. "I can't imagine being a Division I athlete, traveling, practicing, classes and graduating in four years," Judy said.

For Kennedy, graduating from Pepperdine made her "feel good to have my little sister and cousin looking up to me." She said she hopes the recipients of the Kennedy Scholarship are dedicated to working hard on and off the court. "I just hope they are overall good people and kindhearted," she said. "It should be someone who puts a lot of effort out on the court and does double time in the classroom."

Judy, who had very successful careers at both ESPN and the NFL Network, is familiar with the benefits organized sports have on young people. Sports help them to learn leadership, teamwork and commitment. "Those three things are critical to succeeding in the business world," she said. "With sports you can get all those experiences."

For Judy the scholarship is not about her and her husband. "It's about inspiring student-athletes," she said. "I want to make sure there's a legacy."

The Daphanie Kennedy Endowed Scholarship for Women's Basketball is awarded based on need to a female basketball player who is either a first generation college graduate or a student who has overcome a hardship to attend Pepperdine. It can also provide funding to support general needs of the women's basketball program.