Chris Haller

2014 Football, Basketball Winners Exemplify 4 Cs

by Chris Haller April 29, 2014 in Men's Basketball

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The Senior CLASS Award is unlike any other award in NCAA Division I sports.  Contrary to most awards that only recognize a student’s performance on the court, their involvement in the community or their grade point average, the Senior CLASS Award honors these student-athletes in four areas of excellence equally.  The award is based on the individual’s academic standing, community involvement, their overall character and their production in competition.

It’s not always easy to be a student-athlete.  These individuals are expected to be students first and athletes second, although this rarely seems to be the case.  Almost every student-athlete deals with the constant time management struggle of juggling school work with a jam-packed athletic agenda of practice, games, weight training, etc.  This involves going to class, completing homework and studying for tests, while attending all practices, film sessions, workouts and games.  This is difficult enough without the pressure to win. Add that to the mix, and the stress levels for student-athletes can be off the charts.

The winners of the Senior CLASS Award represent the ideal role model in college athletics.  They show determination and commitment by choosing to stay all four years with their teams and university, sometimes turning down very lucrative contracts at the professional level or deciding it isn’t worth their time to try and fit in both academics and athletics.  As a young adult it takes a great deal of integrity and patience to turn down money to stay in college and graduate with a degree.  By finishing their college careers in both academic and athletics, these individuals are able to better position themselves for life after sports.  The winners of the Senior CLASS Award have proved this to be true throughout the award’s 13-year existence. 

None of our winners epitomize this more than the 2013 Senior CLASS football award winner John Urschel of Penn State.  Urschel finished his undergraduate degree in three years with a 4.0 grade point average.  He then earned his first master’s degree in math and will complete his second master’s degree in math education this spring.  Urschel achieved this success in the classroom while competing at the highest level in his sport and earning a third-team All-American selection by the Associated Press and a first-team All-Big Ten award.  With hard work and persistence, he succeeded both on and off the field. 

The Senior CLASS Award recognizes student-athletes that are leaders on their team as well as in their community.  Stefanie Dolson, the 2014 Senior CLASS women’s basketball award winner from Connecticut, confirms this through her actions in the community. Dolson played a key role in helping to raise more than $30,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, and she regularly visited the Connecticut Children’s Hospital with her team during her four years at Connecticut.  With these great leadership qualities, her teammates looked up to her for support as the Huskies capped off an undefeated season with back-to-back NCAA national championships. Dolson’s accomplishments show that student-athletes can be world-class champions in all aspects of life during their college career. 

Not only are these athletes receiving a great educational benefit from staying in school all four years, they are also building bonds of friendship through team spirit and camaraderie that will last a lifetime.  Take Doug McDermott for instance, who was a two-time All-American entering his senior year.  He chose to delay a future that looked solid in the NBA, instead returning to the Bluejays for his final year to finish what he started – playing with three returning senior starters and concluding one of the best father/son stories in the sport with his dad, Greg, Creighton’s head coach. The decision turned out to be the right one for McDermott, as he became the fifth all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history and won every major player-of-the-year award. 

During the Senior CLASS Award presentation held at Creighton’s men’s basketball season-ending banquet, Creighton director of athletics Bruce Rasmussen said of all the awards Doug McDermott won this year, this was the one that made him the most proud. This statement confirms the importance of this award to the winners and their respective universities.  The Senior CLASS Award has solidified itself as a prestigious honor crediting the well-rounded lives and accomplishments of the student-athlete.