Former standout Salem High School girls’ basketball player Payton Curley, of Culver-Stockton, has been named the Heart of America Athletic Conference female recipient of the prestigious Emil S. Liston Award.
Curley is now eligible for the national award which will be announced Sept. 15 by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives from a field of nominees from other NAIA institutions. The winner of the national award will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Culver-Stockton’s Jacob Schuster was the male recipient of the national award in 2014 and Kati Davis was the female recipient in 2016.
The Liston award recognizes academic athletic excellence by junior student-athletes in men's and women’s basketball. Since 1950, the award has honored the memory of the NAIA’s first executive secretary Emil S. Liston. Liston was the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) and a prime mover behind the current NAIA men's basketball national tournament.
“What an honor,” exclaimed women's basketball coach Janette Burgin. “I am extremely proud of her accomplishments as a student athlete and this award is well deserved. If you know her well, she is fun to watch on and off the court.”
Curley has been an integral part of the women’s basketball program in her first three seasons at Culver-Stockton. She has appeared in 94 career games and made 41 career starts during her tenure. Curley has career averages of 10.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Last season, she averaged 12.4 points and 4.6 rebounds while helping the Wildcats qualify for the national tournament for the first time since 1995. Named to the 2020 all-conference second team, Curley also became the 25th player in program history to record 1,000 career points last season, and currently has 1,011 career points entering her senior campaign.
“We are thrilled for Payton to represent the Heart of America Conference as the Emil S. Liston award winner,” said C-SC Athletic Director Pat Atwell. “Payton is a model student-athlete and represents Culver-Stockton College in a first-class manner. She is a wonderful role model for our incoming young women on how to balance athletic and academic achievement.”
Off the court, Curley has excelled in the classroom where she is majoring in health science and minoring in business administration and rehabilitation science. She has achieved several academic honors including President’s List (4.00 semester GPA) two semesters, Dean's List (3.50 semester GPA) two times and honor roll one time. In addition, Curley was named Heart of America Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete in 2020, and is nominated for the Daktronics/NAIA Scholar-Athlete list this fall. She was inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society her first year on the Hill.
In addition to her athletic and academic achievements, Curley has also donated her time Everyone Doing More, which is a community service project Culver-Stockton students partake each year.