Steve Wieberg

From start to finish, winners in 2011-12 distinguished themselves on and off the field

by Steve Wieberg July 11, 2011 in Men's Basketball


The first Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award honoree—North Carolina’s Ali Hawkins—was named in December. A Phi Beta Kappa member, she co-founded a program promoting athletes’ involvement in local, national and international social causes. On the soccer field, she helped Carolina to three women’s national championships.

Virginia’s Tyler Wilson completed the honor roll in June. He holds a degree in biology, and plans to become an orthopedic surgeon when he finishes a baseball career that took him to the College World Series and now the pros. Undefeated as a senior at UVA, the right-handed pitcher was a 10th-round pick in the major-league draft and just signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

The 2010-11 school year delivered eight other winners of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award who not only stood out for their athletic accomplishments but also their character, performance in the classroom and contributions to their communities. In nationwide votes by head coaches, media representatives and fans, they were adjudged the best of the best.

“It is such an honor to be recognized for integrity and leadership,” said the women’s basketball selectee, Connecticut All-American Maya Moore. “Sometimes, those are the things that get taken for granted when recognizing great players and teams.”

Not here. The Senior CLASS Award recognizes the total-package Division I college athlete. The acronym in the name says it all: Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.
The winners came out of 10 different schools—from Villanova to Brigham Young, Navy to Northern Iowa, Akron to Air Force. They notably included the national players in the year in both men’s and women’s basketball, BYU’s high-scoring Jimmer Fredette and UConn’s Moore.

Fredette is active in the local Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation, and accompanied other BYU athletes on a service trip to Nicaragua in 2009. Pick a number with Moore, now averaging better than 13 points a game for the Minnesota Lynx after being selected first overall in the WNBA’s April draft. She led her Connecticut teams to two national titles and a 150-4 record in four years, became only the second two-time winner of the Honda Broderick Cup as the nation’s top female college athlete and, along the way, compiled a 3.669 grade-point average while earning a degree in sports media and promotion.

—Men’s soccer winner Anthony Ampaipitakwong of Akron is a volunteer regular who has worked with Habitat for Humanity and a local shelter for homeless women and children.
—Northern Iowa’s Ellie Blankenship, the first Senior CLASS Award winner in volleyball, helped with sandbagging during the 2008 floods in Cedar Rapids.
—Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs was president of his class at the academy, and says his goal is to be elected U.S. president in 2040.
—Hockey’s Jacques Lamoureax was one of the nation’s most prolific scorers at Air Force and an insider at the Pentagon, where he researched and analyzed data pertaining to combat effectiveness and deployments.
—Brian Karalunas, a long stick midfielder on Villanova’s NCAA tournament-qualifying lacrosse team, inaugurated an educational program for prison inmates.
—Softball pitcher Chelsea Kelley overcame three major surgeries to finish among the top five in eight career pitching categories at Radford. A summa cum laude graduate in sports medicine, she has been accepted into the university’s physical therapy doctoral program.

“The four years of hard work, I feel like it was worth something at the end,” Kelley said of her Senior CLASS Award recognition.

A number of winners, present and past, have continued to distinguish themselves by assisting in Red Cross fund-raising efforts in the wake of this year’s rash of tornadoes and flooding. At least 19 of them—including Hawkins, Fredette, Karalunas and Kelley, along with the likes of 2001 basketball winner Shane Battier—have used their social networking outlets to solicit donations.