Clare Lochary

2009-10 saw record nominations, record voting and unrivaled winners

by Clare Lochary July 06, 2010 in Men's Basketball

Share

The 2009-10 academic season was a milestone year for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. There were record numbers of nominees and fan voting for several sports, which produced 90 finalists who excelled in all four categories of the award criteria – community, classroom, character and competition. On the field, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winners boasted a collective 226-72-7 overall record; their accomplishments off the field are just as impressive. The winners selected from this stellar group of finalists include a Final Four men’s basketball player, a USMA grad with a 4.0 average headed to Ranger School, and an All-Big 12 soccer player with a prosthetic limb. All of them drew the most they could from their four-year NCAA experiences, exemplifying the all-around nature of college student-athletes.

Community
Jason Yeisley, Penn State, Men’s Soccer – Yeisley struggled with two serious knee injuries during his collegiate career, but he knew his troubles were minimal compared to that of a young friend, Adam Recke. Recke, the son of one of Yeisley’s middle school teachers, was diagnosed with Niemann Pick Type C (NP-C), a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects only 500 people worldwide. Yeisley threw himself into fundraising for NP-C, becoming active in the Race for Adam Foundation and hosting Recke and his family at several Penn State home games.

“I am extremely honored to receive the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award,” said Yeisley. “The support that I received over the course of the fan voting has been very humbling considering the accomplishments of the other finalists.”

Yeisley coach Barry Gorman chimed in with more praise for the modest senior forward, who graduated with a 3.61 average and led the Nittany Lions to the NCAA tournament, and won the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award among a record number of nominees: “I am delighted for him and for his family. Through Jason we can all ‘chalk one up for the good guys’ who represent their institutions, families and communities with class and distinction.”
Colin Greening, Cornell, Hockey – Forward Colin Greening does a lot on and off the ice. The two-time team captain scored 35 points for the Big Red and still found time to do a plethora of community service projects. He volunteered at an Ithaca elementary school and the Big Brothers/Big Sister program. He also helped to raise money for the Porte De Belen Foundation’s trip to the Dominican Republic, and helped to organize the fourth annual Cornell Hockey Teddy Bear Toss, which supports the Franziska Racker Centers, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with special needs. Somewhere in there, he honed his game well enough to be drafted by the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
“This award highlights all of the attributes of the type of person that I want to be,” said Greening.
Classroom
Daniel Bibona, UC Irvine, Baseball – The southpaw pitcher was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals following his junior season but chose to return to collegiate play in order to earn his diploma. He did both. “Last year, I had an opportunity to leave college and pursue my dream of playing professional baseball. When I gave it some serious thought, I decided to come back to the University of California, Irvine, and accomplish my other dream of earning my degree. I not only was able to accomplish that, but also was able to play my senior year for one of the best collegiate programs in the nation,” Bibona said. The two-time Big West pitcher of the year earned his sociology degree with a minor in education with a 3.25 average, and became UC-Irvine’s all-time leader in strikeouts.

Andrew Maisano, United States Military Academy, Lacrosse – Maisano graduated 26th in his class at West Point, receiving his diploma from President Barack Obama along with a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Maisano earned a 4.0 as a systems engineering major and spent part of his year working on a project for the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a wind turbine functions as an alternative energy resource while minimizing radar interference. He plans to attend Ranger School and the Sapper Leader Course, a 28-day training in frontline tasks like explosive detonation and bridge construction for combat engineers.

On the field, the midfielder helped his team rally from a 1-4 start to an 11-6 season, including Army’s first Patriot League title and a double overtime upset of defending national champion Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In accepting the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award, Maisano maintained his esprit de corps: “While my name might be on the award, I could not have done this without my teammates.”

Character

Emily Peterson, Texas A&M, Women’s Soccer – Emily Peterson was born without a left arm. But that disadvantage never stopped her from being an athlete. She played baseball (modeling herself on major-league Jim Abbott) and basketball, but her first love was always soccer. As a defender, Peterson helped make the Aggies into a nationally respected program that recorded 10 shutouts in 2009 alone. But it is her competitive spirit and personal character that make her stand out from the pack. She is frank and gracious about her prosthetic limb, and participates in numerous charitable efforts, including a weekend camp for the parents of children with upper-limb differences. She also maintains a 3.92 GPA, and won the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award among a record-setting number of nominees.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  The past four years I have been blessed to go to a school known for its tradition of hard work,” Peterson said. “Winning this award is a reflection of that Aggie Spirit and what I love so much about Texas A&M.”

Tim Tebow, Florida, Football – Quarterback Tim Tebow threw for 9,285 yards and 88 touchdowns and rushed for 2,947 yards and 57 touchdowns more in his four years in Gainesville. But perhaps his most startling statistic is that while being one of the most high-profile student-athletes in the nation, he also logged 700 community service hours in 2009 alone, volunteering his time with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Shands Hospital and the Goodwill Gators. “His unselfishness and mission outside of football is unparalleled. The impact he has made, it’s almost like unselfishness is cool,” said head coach Urban Meyer.

Tebow won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and the 2009 Campbell Trophy and is a three-time All-American. But the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award holds a special significance for him. “This award means so much because it’s not just how you play on the field, it’s not just what you do in the classroom, but it’s what you do as a leader and someone who is going to serve your community,” said Tebow.
Competition
Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia, Men’s Basketball –Averaging 35.8 points per game, the forward led the Mountaineers to a program-high 31 wins, their second Final Four, and their first-ever Big East Championship. Butler hit six game-winners throughout the season, including a buzzer-beater in the Big East final versus Georgetown.  In a typically gracious move, the forward praised his team when receiving the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award: “I am truly honored to receive such a prestigious award. This award would not be possible without my teammates.”

Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska, Women’s Basketball – This first team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year has been hailed as one of the greatest players in program history. The 6’2” forward, who hails from Eagle River, AK, put up an average 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game leading the Huskers to a program-high 32 wins. “I’d like to thank Lowe’s for sponsoring this prestigious award, and I’d like to thank all of the fans around the country who showed their support by voting for me,” said Griffin, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the WNBA draft.

Charlotte Morgan, Alabama, Softball – Despite major injuries, Morgan tallied some of the most impressive stats in Crimson Tide history. A three-time All-American and two-time SEC Player of the Year, the pitcher had a 3.54 ERA and 7-2 record. She also broke a conference record for career and single-season RBIs in her senior campaign. Morgan graduated with a 3.8 GPA in criminal justice, but will put her law enforcement career on hold as she pursues pro sports – she was selected as the first overall pick in the National Pro Fastpitch draft. She accomplished all this despite some serious injuries, including a fractured bone in her right foot that required three surgeries and resulted in her not being able to move four of her five toes and having to wear a special boot for two years and a special shoe this season.

“This is such an amazing honor,” said Morgan. “What Dick Enberg envisioned for this honor and to have my name now synonymous with the award is unbelievable.”