Mende, Heaps are 2009 recipients of Alex Bennett scholarships
Alex Mende and Liz Heaps both have fond memories of playing in the Alex Bennett Memorial basketball tournament in the fall.
It was fitting then that the two were the 2009 recipients of the annual scholarship, given to graduating seniors in District 51 with a background in high school basketball.
Mende, who graduated from Fruita Monument High School, played in the tournament for three years.
“I did not even know about the scholarship portion until Coach (Dave) Fox was telling me at the end of the season,” Mende said.
He applied, wrote the requisite essay about why basketball was important to him and subsequently earned this year’s male scholarship.
Mende said he titled his essay, which is a major factor in determining the scholarship, ‘Basketball is My Passion.’
“It helped show me about how to work hard and showed me I can do two things at once — basketball and school work,” Mende said of the impact the game has had on him.
Mende plans on attending Colorado State University and majoring in engineering science.
Basketball is part of Liz Heaps’ DNA. The daughter of Mesa State College men’s basketball coach Jim Heaps, the game has been a part of her life since she can remember.
“It’s in my blood,” the Grand Junction graduate said.
Heaps, who will begin her college studies at Mesa State in the fall, said the focus on her essay went beyond just the court.
“I related it to life,” she said.
Mende and Heaps both remarked about the importance of the annual Alex Bennett Memorial basketball tournament in their high school lives.
“The tournament means a lot more to me because we knew Alex,” Heaps said.
This is the fifth year the Alex Bennett Memorial has awarded scholarships to graduating seniors in the Grand Valley.