April 23, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama Athletics Department hosted its annual Student-Athlete Awards ceremony Monday night in Foster Auditorium.
Senior swimmer Kyle Weeks, the president of Alabama's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the past two years, opened the event which also honored the more than 200 student-athletes who were recognized during Alabama's Honors Week by their induction into academic honoraries and other organizations.
Women's golf and men's golf were honored as the teams with the highest grade point averages. Women's golf earned the honor while posting a 3.71 team GPA, and men's golf team earned the distinction with a 3.54.
Senior golfer Brooke Pancake and senior football offensive lineman Barrett Joneswere 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.
Pancake, a senior from Chattanooga, Tenn., has shined both on and off the course during her four years at the Capstone. A 2011 first-team All-American who has been selected to the United States 2012 Curtis Cup team and was a semifinalist at the 2011 U.S. Amateur, Pancake boasts a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average and will graduate with a bachelor of science in commerce and business administration this May.
She was selected as a first-team Capital One Academic All-American in 2011 and was the 2010 recipient of the NCAA Elite 88 Awards, which goes to the student-athlete with the highest GPA participating at the NCAA Championships.
Pancake also garnered the 2011 Edith Cummings Munson Award from the NGCA for the student-athlete with highest GPA among first-team All-Americans. She is a two-time SEC Women's Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a three-time NGCA Scholar Athlete.
Jones graduated from the University of Alabama in just three years in August of 2011 with a degree in accounting and a 4.0 grade point average. He is a three-time Capital One Academic All-American, earning first-team honors in 2010 and 2011. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in accounting. He is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Jones received three awards following the 2011 college football season. The unanimous first-team All-America was presented with the Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation's best interior lineman, as well as the Wuerffel Trophy and the ARA Sportsmanship Award. He is a three-year starter along the offensive line (right guard and left tackle) who has helped guide the Crimson Tide to two National Championships (2009 & 2011) and a 36-4 record.
The two-time All-SEC lineman is extremely active in the community as well. Jones has made two mission trips to Haiti and one to Nicaragua to help people struggling with daily life, to help build a school and an orphanage. He has actively participated in tornado cleanup in Tuscaloosa and worked with countless other community organizations in his time at Alabama.
The other finalists for the Bryant Student-Athlete Award were also recognized during the banquet. On the women's side, that included Justine Bernier (soccer); Cassie Reilly-Boccia (softball); Tabitha Coleman (rowing); Leigh Gilmore (track and field); Courtney McLane (tennis); Ida Persson (swimming and diving); Ashley Priess (gymnastics); Stephanie Riley (volleyball); and Ericka Russell(basketball).
On the men's side, the finalists were Nathan Corder (track and field); Ricky Doverspike (tennis); Hunter Hamrick (golf); Brandt Hendricks (baseball); and Kyle Weeks(swimming).
The Athletics Department's community outreach efforts were also recognized during the event. Crimson Tide student-athletes gave more than 4,000 hours toward community services this year. The swimming team was the women's squad with the most community outreach hours while men's basketball earned the honor for the men. Individually, linebacker Nico Johnson and track and field's Amethyst Holmeswere recognized for their outstanding service to the community.
Additionally, several first year awards were handed out, including the Faculty/Staff Recognition Award, which was presented to Dr. Robert Witt, the former UA president who was named Chancellor of the UA System in March.
Gymnast Ashley Priess, who will serve as the SAAC President next season, was honored with the Comeback Award, which recognizes a student-athlete who successfully bounced back from an injury, tough play, or life-changing event. Prior to the 2011 season, Priess had surgery on both ankles which sidelined her for the Tide's 2011 NCAA Championship season. This past weekend, her 9.95 on the balance beam at the NCAA Championships secured the Tide's sixth national title.
Softball's Cassie Reilly-Boccia was the winner of the inaugural Spirit of the Game Award, which honors the individual whose dedication and love for their sport is unmatched. This athlete is the first to arrive and last to leave each day, and whose contagious passion for their game influences their entire team.