Top student-athletes recognized

Wednesday, 30 April 2008
The University of Tulsa recognized its athletic teams and student-athletes on Tuesday night at the school’s 13th Annual All-Sports Awards Dinner at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.  The top awards were given to TU’s “Ultimate Team” members, an award that was instituted in 1992 to recognize the all-around achievements of Tulsa’s top student-athletes.  In addition, the “Ultimate Service” Award, Dan Bitson Courage Award and individual team awards were presented.

The “Ultimate Team” honors athletes who, during the current academic year, have exemplified those qualities and characteristics that are consistent with the missions and values of The University of Tulsa.  The qualities and characteristics considered include academic success, campus involvement, community outreach, athletic participation and other areas of student involvement.

The “Ultimate Team” members for the 2007-08 academic year are Vanessa Andrews (Rowing/Davis, Calif.), Eric Burkholder (Men’s Soccer/Broken Arrow, Okla.), Michaela Cavener (Women’s Golf/Ponca City, Okla.), Sara Dyer (Softball/Sand Springs, Okla.), Michelle Sechser (Rowing/Folsom, Calif.), Paul Smith (Football/Owasso, Okla.), Lindsey Tower (Softball/Edmond, Okla.) and Calvin Walls (Men’s Basketball/Minneapolis, Minn.).

Cavener is a two-time recipient, while the other seven award winners are honored for the first time, and all eight of the honorees were seniors.

The “Ultimate Service” Award was established in order to recognize the efforts of student support staff for service to the teams and student-athletes.  The selection of this individual is based on academic success, campus involvement, community outreach, and service-oriented participation in athletics or other areas of student involvement.  This year’s men’s basketball manager Brent Booker was honored.

Booker was a three-year basketball manager who demonstrated tremendous leadership, responsibility and organization.  He will receive his bachelor’s degree in exercise sports science this May.

The Dan Bitson Courage Award winner is senior women’s tennis player Carla Zabaleta.  The award was established in 1992 in the name of former TU football standout Dan Bitson (1986-91), who fought back from severe injuries suffered in an automobile accident to play football again.  The award is presented annually to the TU student-athlete who exemplifies courage, perseverance and tenacity for overcoming adversity.

In the midst of her sophomore season, Zabaleta sustained a left kidney laceration, spleen laceration and fractured mandible during an automobile accident on December 24, 2005 while at home in Argentina.  Following immediate hospitalization and follow up care, she was allowed to return to Tulsa where her injuries would prevent her from competing in the 2006 spring season.  Her rehabilitation included complete rest for eight weeks, low impact work for the following four weeks and light workouts in the fourth month.  Last week, she helped lead TU to its second Conference USA title in as many years.

The Tulsa student-athletes, through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, select a Professor of the Year.  This year’s award goes to Associate Professor of Athletic Training, Jan Drummond.

The sixth-annual Outstanding Team Community Service Award is given to the team most involved in community service activities throughout the year, and is selected by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  This year’s winner was the Women’s Rowing team. The women’s rowing team turned in 893 volunteer hours this past year and volunteered for 28 causes, including Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Stitches from the Heart to name a few.

The final award of the night, the Warren Garrison Academic Excellence Award, went to senior women’s rowing athlete Vanessa Andrews.  The award is named in honor of Tulsa’s first athletic academic coordinator and longtime Golden Hurricane Club member Warren Garrison.  Andrews has a 4.0 grade point average in geosciences.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 April 2008 )