April 21, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Crimson Tide Athletics Department's annual Alabama Student-Athlete Awards Banquet, presented by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, was held Monday evening at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Senior softball player Ryan Iamurri, the SAAC president, opened the program by welcoming the gathered student-athletes while long-time Crimson Tide broadcaster Chris Stewart served as the master of ceremony.
Senior golfers Cory Whitsettand Stephanie Meadow were named the winners of the Paul W. Bryant Award given annually to the top male and female student-athlete. The Paul W. Bryant Student-Athlete Award was created by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association in 1985.
A two-time NCAA Elite 89 winner and a 2013 Capital One Academic All-American, Whitsett is a three time All-American who led the Tide to the 2013 NCAA Championship and the 2012 and 2013 SEC titles. A Cleveland Golf All-American Scholar, he was also the 2013 SEC Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of the Bryant Award than Cory," UA head men's golf coach Jay Seawellsaid. "He has truly strived for excellence both on the course and in the classroom. I am very proud of Cory and this honor is well deserved. I believe the Bryant Award is the highest honor given by our athletic department. Any award with Coach Bryant's name on it is about class an excellence, and I think Cory represents both of those."
Meadow, who will receive her degree in accounting Saturday with a 4.0 grade-point average, is a three-time WGCA All-American Scholar and a 2013 Capital One Academic All-American. She was the 2013 SEC Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. On the course, she is a three-time first team All-American who led Alabama to the 2012 NCAA Championship and the 2013 SEC title.
"Stephanie is the consummate student-athlete. It is incredibly hard to achieve the kind of success she has, both in the classroom and on the course," UA head women's golf coach Mic Pottersaid. "It is a privilege to coach a student-athlete the caliber of Stephanie, and I feel honored that she chose our program. We could not have achieved the success we have without her contributions. She is the No. 4-ranked amateur in the world and she helped us win the 2012 NCAA Championship and 2013 SEC title and was the 2013 SEC medalist and a two-time NCAA Regional champion. There is truly no one more deserving of this honor."
The other finalists for the Bryant Student-Athlete Award were also recognized during the banquet. On the women's side that included Mary Anne Daines (tennis), Andrea McQuaid (volleyball), Kim Jacob (gymnastics), Kendall Khanna (soccer), Paige McCleary (swimming and diving), Lynsey Marshall (rowing), Nikki Hegstetter (basketball), Ryan Iamurri (softball) and Palee Myrex(track and field).
On the men's side, the finalists were BJ Hornikel (swimming and diving), Retin Obasohan (basketball), Cary Baxter (baseball), Daniil Proskura (tennis), Arie Kouandjio (football) and Kamal Fuller (track and field).
The newly crowned Southeastern Conference women's tennis team and the men's tennis squad were honored as the teams with the highest grade point averages.
"I'm very proud of our team for its commitment to excellence in the classroom," women's head tennis coach Jenny Mainz said. "This award embodies the spirit of our team. I applaud our girls for exhibiting so much discipline and perseverance in the academic arena as well as on the tennis court."
Women's tennis earned the honor while posting a 3.74 team GPA, and men's team earned the distinction with a 3.34.
"What a great honor," men's head tennis coach George Husack said. "This award shows that we can be successful in the classroom, even with the many hours and sacrifices made on court. It's a testament to our players' commitment, The University of Alabama and everyone who works at the Bill Battle Center for Academic Student Services and Jon Dever and Fern Hampton in particular."
The Athletics Department's community outreach efforts were also recognized during the event. Crimson Tide student-athletes gave more than 1,600 hours toward community services this year. The basketball team was the women's squad with the most community outreach hours while baseball earned the honor for the men. Individually, swimmer Philip Dockery and track and field/cross country's Claire Turner were recognized for their outstanding service to the community.
The Newcomer of the Year, which covers the 2013 season (spring and fall), went to women's golfer Emma Talley while women's basketball player Shafontaye Myers earned the Comeback Athlete of the Year award. Gymnastics' Lindsey Fowler was the winner of the Spirit of the Game Award, which honors the individual whose dedication and love for their sport is unmatched.
Ellen Pate, an instructor within Alabama's Life Calling and Leadership Development curriculum, was honored with the Finest Faculty Award for her dedication to student-athlete academic achievement.