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Key Players award dinner

Springfield Leaders and Life Changers

by Hannah Fair, Student Public Relations Writer

They inspire, mentor and coach young people of Springfield, Ohio. They don’t do it for the recognition, but on November 16, that’s exactly what these hometown heroes will receive.

This Friday, Cedarville University’s sport business management program, intercultural leadership office and athletics department will honor seven Key Player award winners during a banquet in the Center for Biblical and Theological Studies. The event begins at 6 pm.

The second annual banquet, sponsored by Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, will take place prior to the Cedarville Yellow Jackets men’s basketball game versus Campbellsville-Somerset. Key Players awardees will be honored at halftime.

The Key Players awards are given to men making a positive difference in the lives of Springfield youth through their example, care, support and guidance.

“It was a difficult decision as we had many worthy candidates. These men were selected because of their selfless sacrifice for the young people of Springfield,” explained Stephanie Zonars, Cedarville’s assistant athletic director for marketing and sponsorships. “They are givers and have found creative ways to give young people hope for the future. Many of them are father figures to young people, particularly young men, who lack a strong male influence in their lives.”

The nominations came from leaders from around the greater Springfield area and through community nominations at Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken.

“These men have displayed one or more of our core Cedarville pillars — a clear love for God, a clear love for others, integrity in conduct or excellence in effort,” said the Greg Dyson, Cedarville’s director of intercultural leadership. “They have displayed these attributes while serving people in a variety of settings, as they have engaged with young people around the city of Springfield.”

Cedarville students volunteer with many ministries and nonprofit organizations around Springfield, and the Key Players program is a way to shine a light on leaders who’ve welcomed them into their efforts with youth.

The following information was gathered from the honorees’ nomination forms. Honorees include:

  • Ernest Brown, pastor at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. Brown has spent a lifetime loving and serving young people. As a school teacher, coach and chaplain in his early years and now as a pastor, father and grandfather, he models what mentoring and fatherhood are all about.
  • Chris Hatton, teacher at Roosevelt Middle School. Hatton has become a “dad presence” to many students, with firmness, compassion and fun that is a stabilizing presence for kids who often lack stability at home.
  • Cornelius Hookfin, pastor at Full Gospel Tabernacle Church. Hookfin continually makes himself available when a troubled youth or young father needs guidance and mentoring. He listens, relates, communicates and gains respect from men who do not have a father figure in their lives.
  • Dorian Hunter, Wittenberg student and former football student-athlete. Instead of letting a career-ending car accident change his life in a negative way, he used the experience to make a positive change in his life and the lives of others.
  • Joe Hunter, director of the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center in Springfield. Hunter lovingly intervenes in the lives of young offenders to help turn their lives around. He has changed the entire atmosphere at the detention center to make it a place of redemption rather than punishment.
  • Cory Magee, owner of Tumbling with Mr. Cory. Magee hosted gymnastic lessons at Southgate Baptist Church in Springfield and drew families to church for lessons, and they have become involved in other ministries.
  • Ryan Ray, director of development at the Springfield Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center. From raising funds to collecting toys for Christmas, to youth basketball programs with Christian rappers and his involvement with the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center, Ray is tuned into ministering to the children of Springfield and Clark County.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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