Over 250 student-athletes were recognized Monday night for their outstanding academic achievements, including a total of 224 student-athletes honored for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The dinner banquet was hosted in the Topper Club of Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium.
Featured speakers were President Gary Ransdell and head football coach Willie Taggart, and Academic Advisor Dixie Mahurin gave a special recognition award to Carol and Denny Wedge, whose generous donation funded WKU’s Student-Athlete Success Center that impacts countless lives on a daily basis.
The scholar teams of the year awards are given to the men’s and women’s team with the highest grade point average over the last year. The men’s scholar team of the year was a tie between the baseball and tennis programs, while the women’s scholar team of the year was the tennis program.
The scholar athletes of the year awards are given to the top graduating male and female athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average. The female scholar athlete of the year went to Maggie Wilder, who helped the Lady Topper soccer team reach the semi-finals of the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Tournament and is the WKU Geography Student of the Year with a 3.99 grade point average. She endured multiple injuries during her career and recently was awarded the Lady Topper Soccer program’s 2010 Coach’s Award for outstanding character, commitment, and passion for the game.
The male scholar athlete of the year was awarded to Matt Rice, who ranks as WKU baseball’s all-time leader in base hits and runs batted in and has a 4.0 grade point average in mechanical engineering. Rice is also the “Outstanding Graduating Senior" in the Mechanical Engineering Program, is a two-time Academic All-American, and was named a semi-finalist for the prestigious Johnny Bench Award given to the nation’s top catcher.
The graduate scholar athlete of the year was awarded to Rachel Friedman, who was an academic All-American as a junior and senior on the soccer team before entering graduate school at WKU and joining the cross country program. This fall she will start on her PhD at Washington University in St. Louis, and is one of only two people accepted into the university’s movement science PhD program. She had a perfect 4.0 GPA as both a graduate (physical education) and undergraduate (exercise science) student.
WKU had four student-athletes earned the prestigious honor of being named an academic All-American in the last calendar year: Mark Santoro (Football) and Matt Payton, Matt Rice and Matt Ridings from the baseball program.
A total of 31 student-athletes were recently inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society that recognizes high academic achievers and letter winners in their sport with at least a 3.4 grade point average. Since joining Chi Alpha Sigma in 2007, WKU has inducted 118 athletes into the honor society. The 31 student-athletes newly inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma represent nine different sports:
1. Jared Andreoli Baseball
2. Brett Austin Cross Country
3. Shannon Boone Soccer
4. Mark Bowers Cross Country
5. Vasity Chemweno Track
6. Chad Cown Swimming
7. Ryan Crabtree Baseball
8. Caden Dickerson Basketball
9. Brittany Doss Swimming
10. Joseph Dunphy Football
11. Casey Dykes Baseball
12. Logan Edelen Golf
13. Kristiana Feeser Swimming
14. Monteka Flowers Track
15. Ivan Hartle Baseball
16. Andrew Heiser Golf
17. Joseph Jackson Baseball
18. Monte Ketchum Baseball
19. Douglas Kleeschulte Golf
20. Chelsea Larsen Swimming
21. Amy O’Connell Golf
22. Mallory Outerbridge Soccer
23. Adam Pendry Swimming
24. Kaylyn Pratt Soccer
25. JoAnna Smith Golf
26. Alison Stahlke Soccer
27. Luke Stansfield Football
28. Chelsea Stevens Swimming
29. Elizabeth Stout Soccer
30. Amanda Walden Softball
31. Margaret Wilder Soccer
The Courage Award, given to the individual or team that showed tremendous courage, resolve and dedication in the face of adversity, went to Head Coach Travis Hudson and the WKU volleyball team. On October 7, while on their way to play a volleyball match at South Alabama, the driver of the team’s bus tragically suffered a fatal heart attack. No one knew this until the bus then veered into the median between both southbound and northbound traffic with no one at the helm. The lives of everyone on board literally were at stake, and if not for the quick and courageous actions of head coach Travis Hudson, who jumped from his passenger seat and then steered the bus to safety, the story would have turned out dramatically different. Following this unexplainable situation, the girls on the team were then given the option of returning to Bowling Green and rescheduling both their match the following day at South Alabama and on October 9 at Troy. They decided to remain on their mission and went on to win both matches in straight sets before returning safely to Bowling Green.
The Outreach Service Award, given to the student-athlete who best demonstrates the qualities of character and leadership along with service to the university, community, or country, went to Taryn O’Shea of the soccer team. O’Shea’s activities include working with TOP Soccer, the Kelly Autism Program, Christmas in Kentucky, the Feel Good Organization, and the Warren County Humane Society. She also has a cumulative 3.88 GPA, including two perfect 4.0 semesters.
Additional WKU Academic Highlights:
- 85% of all WKU student-athletes who have fulfilled their eligibility since the year 2000 have graduated.
- Ten of the university’s 15 athletic programs have a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or better.
- In the first semester of the 2010-11 year, at least one student-athlete from each of WKU’s 15 sport programs made either the Dean’s or President’s List.
- WKU exceeds the NCAA required 925 Academic Progress Report Rate (APR) in every single men’s and women’s sport.
- WKU has had more individuals honored for their academic success by the Sun Belt Conference than any other league institution in each of the last six years.
- WKU student-athletes in the university’s 19 sports are majoring in 76 different programs. The Gordon Ford College of Business has 58 student-athletes, the most of any division.
- A total of 22 WKU student-athletes representing 10 separate sports graduated in the December 18 commencement ceremonies, and a total of 105 student-athletes have graduated in the last calendar year, as 23 graduated in December of 2009 and 60 graduated in May of 2010.