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CPS Scholar-Athletes Receive Inaugural Chris Nelms Scholarship

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) 2023 graduates Amaiya Strawther of Riverview East Academy and Eric Markwell of Oyler High School are the recipients of the inaugural Chris Nelms Scholarship for Baseball & Softball Scholar-Athletes.

Nelms Award Scholar Athlete Introduced by the CPS Athletics Department with support from the Reds Community Fund, the Chris Nelms Scholarship provides $2,000 to one male and one female scholar-athlete competing in baseball or softball and heading to an institute of higher education. Nelms, a Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School alum, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and later served CPS for 25 years as a teacher, prevention specialist, head baseball coach and athletic director as well as a member of the CPS Board of Education. 

"Chris Nelms advocated for athletics and promoted the positive impact sports have on our students and community,” Josh Hardin, CPS Athletics Manager, said about his mentor and friend. “He shared this far and wide throughout the district and city, and this helped athletics grow. We are so honored to partner with the Reds Community Fund in the creation of this scholarship in the name of Chris Nelms.”

Nelms also helped establish the Cincinnati Reds Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, a Major League Baseball initiative designed to promote the game of baseball to teenage boys and girls in disadvantaged areas while providing them with positive life lessons.

“Through the Chris Nelms Scholarship, we celebrate the legacy of a remarkable individual who believed in the power of sports to teach life skills and shape young minds,” Carolyn Jones, CPS board member and longtime friend and colleague of Nelms, said. “Chris was not just a coach, but a steward of the game of life, imparting wisdom and values through practices and games. His unwavering dedication to providing resources for all schools and student-athletes, with the goal of making Cincinnati Public Schools the best in the area, earned him admiration and respect. Chris's commitment to treating both boys and girls sports equally, fostering interest by introducing new sports, set him apart.”

The scholarships were presented during this year’s Baseball and Softball All-Star Showcase, sponsored by Dream Builders University and Center for Closing the Health Gap. Nelms Scholar Athlete 2023  

The 2023 recipients exemplify Nelm’s spirit:

Amaiya Strawther is a softball scholar-athlete who, after her season was cut short, finished her Riverview athletics career by competing on the boys’ baseball team. In addition to softball and baseball, she participated in cheer and volleyball. Graduating third in her class with a 3.5 GPA, Strawther will attend the University of Cincinnati to study athletic training.  

Eric Markwell is a baseball scholar-athlete and was recognized as 2nd Team All-Conference in the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC). In addition to baseball, Markwell played basketball throughout his time at CPS and participated in the CPS Basketball All-Star Showcase. Graduating 7th in his class with a 3.3 GPA, Markwell will attend Miami University Hamilton to study business. 

“If Chris were here today, his heart would be overflowing with pride as he stood alongside each recipient,” Jones said. “This scholarship is a testament to his intentional support and a symbol of his enduring legacy."