Rusty Smith and Praewnapa Phol-Uayporn Named Athletes of the Year
April 13, 2008
BOCA RATON, FL - Florida Atlantic University's Athletics Department hosted the year-end seniors' banquet at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Boca Raton on Sunday, April 13, and recognized 12 individuals for their outstanding accomplishments. The department also recognized the seniors who provided leadership to the 20 varsity athletic teams that don the FAU uniform.
FAU honored 75 seniors who have been on-hand for 11 conference championships and have represented FAU 11 times in either an NCAA tournament or bowl championship competition.
"The Student Athletes of the Year," a holistic award recognizing community service, academic performance and athletic accomplishment equally, was awarded to senior baseball pitcher Chris Eberhart and sophomore softball shortstop Blair Bodenmiller.
"The Academic Achievement Awards," based on overall GPA, was awarded to men's soccer Shire Standnes, who holds a 3.86 GPA in international business, and helped to guide the team to the program's first conference title in 2007. The women's award was awarded for the second consecutive year to Claudia Kecht, who has held the No. 1 position on the women's tennis team the last two seasons and holds a 3.967 GPA in finance.
"Community Service" is an award that is given to an individual who not only gives of their time, but inspires and leads teammates to do the same. This year the men's award was given to junior swimmer Adam Epstein who has led the Athletics Department's Relay for Life campaign, as well as participated in many other causes. The women's award was given to fellow swimmer Colleen Lehane who has been an active member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and also worked with Relay for Life.
"The Sportsmanship Award" recognizes those who hold to the values so many athletes have lost. The individual represents the ideal concept of college athletics. Men's golfer Michael Berger was honored on the men's side, while basketball guard Adel Lizama was awarded the honor on the women's side.
"Most 'Owl'standing Athlete" is a departmental award that affirms the dedication to FAU and every student athlete by showing support at games. Basketball guard Sanchez Hughley earned the honor on the men's side, while volleyball setter Casey LaRocca was awarded the honor on the women's side.
The final award of the evening was given to athletes who excelled on the playing field and who have provided the leadership and athletic ability to propel their respective team goals. FAU Football Quarterback Rusty Smith earned the award on the men's side, while junior golfer Praewnapa Phol-Uayporn was honored on the women's side.
Chris Eberhart is best summed up by Baseball Head Coach Kevin Cooney. "Chris is a player who managed to balance the most challenging curriculum while playing a high level of athletics. He has worked his way through college, attended many sporting events, served as the SAAC president and logged more community service hours than most pre-med majors on campus." Chris is also the service director for the Golden Key International Honour Society. He is also part of the FAU baseball team that earned a victory over the nation's No. 1 program, the University of Miami, on Wednesday, April 9.
Blair Bodenmiller has a work ethic that is unmatched in the classroom, weight room, playing field and in life. She has received all "A's" with the exception of one class. She has anchored shortstop for the defending Sun Belt Champions and has been limited only by her own aggressive nature that sidelined her with a knee injury. She serves as the team captain as a sophomore and is responsible for the team's community service leadership.
Shire Standnes is a major reason why the FAU men's soccer team won both the Atlantic Soccer Conference regular season and tournament titles. He was third on the team with 11 points on the season and scored four goals, three of which were game winners. Shire made the Dean's List in the fall and is expected to continue his huge contribution to the FAU men's soccer attempts to defend their regular season and tournament titles in the fall.
Claudia Kecht holds a 3.967 GPA and has anchored the team at No. 1 or 2. Her sportsmanship is also evident as FAU Head Tennis Coach Mary Dailey describes her as "respectful of her teammates, opponents, other coaches and the refs."
Adam Epstein has been involved in the FAU community since walking onto campus. He is a regular at all sporting events, but is also a regular with helping the FAU and Boca Raton community. Adam has spearheaded this years Relay for Life campaign. He, along with his fellow swimmers and student-athletes, just completed the 24-hour Relay for Life walk. At the conference meet, Adam swam the 200-backstroke in 1:59.12, the 200-freestyle in 1:44.77 and the 500-freestyle in 4:43.37.
Colleen Lehane has been a member of SAAC and has been heavily involved in the Relay for Life walk along with her teammates. As a member of SAAC, she helped with the Children's Christmas party as well as other events. At the 2008 Sun Belt swim meet, she swam the 500-freestyle in 5:12.21 and swam a "B" final of 1:56.44 in the 200-freestyle. She also swam the 200-fly in 2:26.40 to help the team finish second. Lehane has been a part of two Sun Belt Conference titles.
Michael Berger is best described by his coach Angelo Sands. "I have known Mike for three years and his character is that of a true sportsman. I have never heard him criticize a competitor and he has always been a gentleman in defeat or victory. I will miss him when he graduates. He has been the bedrock of our team."
Adel Lizama was a member of the first women's basketball team to win a conference title. In Head Coach Chancellor Dugan's words, "Adel always puts the team first. She is the first to stand and greet a teammate coming off the court during a game or practice. She was always the first to volunteer to host recruits and literally worked her way onto the team. She has been a great role model to her teammates."
Sanchez Hughley was a starter as a freshman due to his high level of maturity, which is normally found in upperclassman. He was one of the most productive freshmen in the Sun Belt, averaging 6.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 20.1 minutes a game. He has worked camps, clinics, been a member of SAAC, and attended a NCAA leadership seminar. Sanchez is an avid supporter of all FAU athletics and can often be seen at sporting events. His dedication has allowed him to be easily identifiable by many FAU coaches and administrators.
Casey LaRocca is also a regular attendee at FAU sporting events and gave up part of her holiday break to cheer on the football team in New Orleans. She will enter her senior season as FAU's all-time leader in career assists. She had five double-doubles on the year and has had three consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 assists.
Rusty Smith is another familiar face at FAU athletic events as he has attended at least one event for every team on campus. He was named USA Today Offensive Player of the Week, Sun Belt Player of the Year and MVP of the New Orleans Bowl. He also set many school records along the way. FAU Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger has compared Rusty's leadership favorably to that of Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly and Joe Namath among others. He is also an honor roll student.
Praewnapa Phol-Uayporn has been the backbone of the women's golf team ever since she stepped on campus three years ago. "Praew," as she is known, was named "Sun Belt Golfer of the Month" in March. She has posted two tournament wins and finished second three times. Women's Golf Coach Joan Joyce says that Praew has "worked hard to improve in every facet of the game." She is currently ranked in the Top 50 players in the nation and is noted for her relentless work ethic.