March 25, 2003
Boca Raton, FL -
More than 450 student-athletes began preparation for the 2002-2003 seasons, as we enter into the final months of collegiate competition two athletes have been named Florida Atlantic University's Male and Female Athletes-of-the-Year. Rusty Brown and Rhonda Jones will represent the athletic department as this year's outstanding athletes and will be nominated for the Atlantic Sun Conference Athlete-of-the-Year. Brown and Jones will be honored at the April 15 University Honors Convocation.
Brown is a 6-3 junior on the baseball team that is currently ranked no. 18 nationally. The North Fort Myers native is in his sixth semester at FAU as a Management major. He holds a 3.34 g.p.a. despite the rigors of practice, competition and his participation as a volunteer coach in youth baseball clinics and the FAU "Family Fun Day". Statistically, Brown has been an instrumental part of the team's 2003 success. This season, he is among the team leaders in batting average, leads the team in RBIs (31), is second on the team in doubles (8) and home runs with five.
Head Coach Kevin Cooney gave convincing remarks in Brown's nomination: "As you look at his academic credentials, you need to be aware that baseball players rarely use summer school to help their grades. Rusty was gone each summer playing baseball out of the state of Florida and is on track to graduate in May of 2004. Rusty is an outstanding player, who made the All-Regional team in the 2002 Tuscaloosa Regional. His hitting was one of the main reasons for the first NCAA Regional Championship in the school's history. He currently is one of the leading hitters and has performed very well at two different defensive positions. Baseball in Florida is rated at the highest level in the country and he is expected to perform at that level every game, over more than five months. He is being scouted by professional baseball and is eligible to sign after this season. Rusty has asked us to tell scouts that his education is top priority, and it would take a very high draft to get him to leave school before graduating. That should tell you something right there."
Rhonda Jones is a 5th semester Graphic Design major from N. Lanarkshire, Scotland and holds a 3.24 cumulative g.p.a., has played in 18 matches, scored four goals and added seven assists for 15 points that was third on the team. Traditionally, Jones is the first to volunteer for community service such as the TOPS Soccer program, which assists school-aged handicapped children in learning and playing the game of soccer. She also participated in the FAU "Family Fun" Day.
Coach Brian Dooley explained Rhonda's attributes best: "Rhonda is the heart and soul of the women's soccer team. She led our program to the first Regular-Season Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. She has received first team All-A-Sun for the second-consecutive season as well as second-team All-Region. She has distinguished herself on the field as one of the top players in the conference. Her tireless work rate and leadership abilities single-handedly transformed our program to rank in the top 30% nationally. Rhonda makes all of our players better by the example she sets.
Coaches were asked to nominate athletes who have maintained a 3.2 g.p.a. or better, who excelled on the field through community service and were leaders on their respective team. Candidates nominated included: Guga Alencar (soccer) Matt Anderson (Golf), Claudia Beitel (Cross Country/Track), Rusty Brown (baseball), Rhonda Jones (soccer), Jessica Kahn (volleyball), Chris McKinley (football) and Angie Rodgers (basketball).