Alexa Namestnik has won The Post and Courier’s Golden Pen award for January for her letter to the editor “College sports teach winning lesson.”

Ms. Namestnik is a freshman at the College of Charleston and a member of its swimming and diving team, which school officials have decided to eliminate.

Her letter posed this question: “Do college athletics serve to create revenue for a college or university, or are they an extension of students’ educations?” The letter answered that question by citing the writer’s experience:

“My 51 teammates and I get up before the sun rises five times a week. Why do we dedicate countless hours to practicing and competing? Why do we intensify our already abundant college workload so that we can play a sport? Why do we pick ourselves up and fight harder than ever after a devastating loss or failure? Why do we strive for success? Nowhere in the answer to these questions will you find the word ‘money.’ ... Instead there are feelings of accomplishment and pride which money cannot provide.”

She added: “Being an athlete has provided me with structure and support and has allowed me to grow and learn much more than I could have imagined. I see swimming as an extension of my education.”

The letter concluded: “College teams like mine create successful and driven community members. The revenue generation that college level sports create should be seen as a bonus, not as the end all, be all.”

Golden Pen winners are invited to an annual luncheon with the editorial staff.