Laurie Bollig

Fall Senior CLASS Award winners excel in classroom and community as well as on the field

by Laurie Bollig January 05, 2010 in

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Leaders on their teams. Community servants. Outstanding students in the classroom. The 2009 fall sports season ended with compelling national championship tournaments, deserving recognition for three of the nation’s outstanding senior student-athletes and an announcement of an expansion of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award program.

Emily Peterson of Texas A&M and Jason Yeisley of Penn State were selected as winners of the award for women’s and men’s soccer, respectively. Florida’s Tim Tebow took home Senior CLASS Award™ honors in the football bowl subdivision. And beginning in 2010, NCAA® Division I women’s volleyball student-athletes will be recognized with the award, making volleyball the 10th sport in the prestigious program’s 10th season.

Peterson, a fifth-year senior who overcame a serious physical disability to lead her team to the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship round of 16, has a 3.92 grade point average in finance as part of the Mays Business Honors Program at Texas A&M. She was one of 43 top business undergraduates to participate in an intensive professional development program designed to strengthen leadership abilities. She was born without a left arm but has participated in team sports since a young age at the encouragement of her parents. She volunteers for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children hand camp every year, counseling parents of children with upper-limb differences. 

On the field, Peterson led Texas A&M to its 10th appearance in the NCAA tournament round of 16. During the first two matches, she recorded a goal from her central defender position and tallied an assist as well. Texas A&M lost in double overtime to Florida State in the tournament and finished the year 15-7-3 with a final regular-season ranking of No. 22.

Yeisley, the Big Ten Conference offensive player of the year, maintains a 3.6 grade point average in management. He was recently named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America first team. Yeisley’s community service activities have revolved around raising awareness and finding a cure for Niemann-Pick disease, a rare terminal illness that has affected a youngster from Yeisley’s hometown. Yeisley is active in the Race for Adam Foundation, a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to funding research projects to find treatment and a cure for neurodegenerative diseases.

On the field, Yeisley has overcome two serious knee injuries during his career to lead Penn State to its 13th NCAA tournament appearance under Gorman. The Nittany Lions’ active leading scorer with 64 career points, Yeisley was among the team leaders in goals, assists and points in 2009. The Nittany Lions fell to Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship and finished the year with a 12-8-2 record.

Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and member of the 2006 and 2008 national championship Gator squads, ended his collegiate career as the Southeastern Conference’s offensive player of the year in 2009 and holds 13 conference and 26 school records. His career numbers include 85 passing and 56 rushing touchdowns and a 65-percent completion rate.

Tebow recently was announced as an NCAA Top VIII winner and was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He has logged more than 700 hours of community service and appearances in 2009, lending his time to organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Shands Hospital and the Goodwill Gators. He has maintained a grade point average above 3.5 in his major of family, youth and community sciences.

Student-athletes participating in NCAA® Division I women’s volleyball will be recognized as part of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award program beginning with the 2010 season. As one of the fastest-growing and most popular sports at the youth and collegiate levels, volleyball was a natural choice for inclusion in the award program. The announcement was made during the championship in Tampa and was met with excitement in the coaching community.

“We are thrilled that volleyball student-athletes will be recognized for their accomplishments in all facets of their collegiate careers,” said Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. “Besides being fantastic athletes and competitors, our student-athletes are extremely active in their communities and have always been high achievers in the classroom.”