By Ronald Hanaki
SC Staff Writer
In celebration of National Student-Athlete Day, ESU honored its student-athletes with a ceremony inside Koehler Fieldhouse on Thursday afternoon, April 17.
The event was organized by Dr. Nancy Jo Greenawalt, ESU’s academic coordinator of athletics. Dr Greenawalt is also the most recent honoree of the ESyoU campaign launched by ESU President Dr. Marcia Welsh.
National Student-Athlete Day was created 27 years ago by the NCAA. Its purpose was to celebrate the achievements of student-athletes in the classroom, in the community, and in their respective sports. The day also recognizes and thanks the school’s faculty and staff who have helped and enabled student-athletes achieve their academic and athletic goals.
In total, 42 of ESU’s faculty and staff were being recognized for helping and supporting ESU’s student-athletes.
Last Thursday afternoon’s ceremony honored the athletic director’s honor roll recipients, Academic All-America Award winners, team academic achievement award winners, and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members. The “Winning Warrior” award winner was announced as well.
The event began with Dr. Greenawalt’s opening remarks. She was followed by ESU director of athletics Dr. Tom Gioglio and President Welsh who both delivered their opening remarks.
During President Welsh’s opening remarks, she noted that there were 10 student-athletes who have a 4.0 GPA. Welsh went on to quote Peruvian American author Carlos Castaneda who said, “The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” Welsh then looked at all of the student-athletes and said, “All of you are warriors.”
ESU senior and two-sport athlete (in field hockey and softball) Kaitlin Blum took the stage as the day’s guest speaker. Blum is a psychology and business management major who also served as the president of SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) this past year.
As president of SAAC, Blum’s major initiative was to establish the new SAAC team service award. She also attended the NCAA Leadership Forum in Providence, Rhode Island and has worked with Special Olympics and Head Start.
There were 160 student-athletes named to the athletic director honor roll. Student-athletes must have a 3.25 GPA or higher to qualify for this honor.
The athletic director’s honor roll recognition honored student-athletes from the following sports: men’s baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s cross-country and track & field, women’s cross-country and track & field, women’s field hockey, football, women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s softball, swimming, women’s tennis, women’s volleyball, and wrestling.
Capital One Academic All-America Award winners include Robert Bleiler from football and men’s soccer players Nemanja Nikolic and Khriswayne Wallace.
ESU’s sports information director Greg Knowlden did not attend the celebration because he was covering a softball game, but after the Academic All-America Award winners were announced, he issued a challenge to ESU’s student-athlete underclassmen to go for this award. A minimum of 3.3 GPA is required, but winning the award usually takes a 3.7 or even a 3.9 GPA.
Team academic achievement awards went to the men’s and women’s athletic teams with the highest team GPA for the fall 2013 semester.
This year, the men’s cross-country team won for the fourth time in 13 years with an overall GPA of 3.272. The women’s soccer team won for the first time since the award’s inception with a sparkling 3.242 team GPA.
Kaitlin Blum returned to the podium to introduce the SAAC service award which went to the women’s field hockey team. SAAC has raised about $1,500 dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In addition, for every dollar above $1,000, a donor will match that amount.
The “Winning Warrior” Award is given to the person showing an exceptional commitment to ESU’s athletic department and SAAC.
This person set the record for the most athletic tweets, and during the NCAA’s men’s basketball playoffs, she left the cafeterias open so that ESU students could attend the playoff games and support the Warrior basketball team.
The tenth annual “Winning Warrior” Award was given to President Welsh.
At the end, a video showing ESU’s student-athletes thanking the 42 special members of ESU’s faculty, staff, and coaches who have helped ESU’s student-athletes succeed was given the silver screen treatment.
Among the faculty members of the English department, Dr. Sandra Eckard was thanked by freshman soccer player Hannah Gombos, Dr. Jeff Hotz was thanked by freshman football player Devon Ackerman, and Professor Adrienne Kotsko was thanked by sophomore track & field star William Berry.
Among other faculty members and staff, business management luminaries Dr. Sheila Handy and Dr. Douglas Friedman were thanked for their support.
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