Notre Dame Student-Athletes Honored At Annual End Of Year Gala
April 30, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame Department of Athletics held its annual O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements & Recognition Showcase) on Wednesday evening, Apr. 30, inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. This year marked the 13th annual event for the traditional year-end gala honoring more than 700 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2013-14 campaign.
The presentation of three major athletic awards -- the Byron V. Kanaley, the Notre Dame Athletics Community Champion Award and the Francis Patrick O'Connor Award -- highlighted the evening's celebration, while the Top Gun Award and Chuck Linster Award (for the highest grade-point averages by graduating senior athletes and athletics student support staff, respectively), also were presented in conjunction with the Notre Dame Office of Academic Services for Student-Athletes. In addition, a member of each team was selected for the Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player Award and the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award.
Notre Dame's top honor, the Byron V. Kanaley Award was awarded to seven graduating seniors - women's soccer standout Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla.), men's tennis player Greg Andrews (Richland, Mich.), men's soccer All-American Harrison Shipp (Lake Forest, Ill.), men's fencing national champion Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), women's tennis player Jennifer Kellner (Smithtown, N.Y.), women's cross country/track and field star Kelly Curran (Bloomington, Ill.) and men's track and field athlete Logan Renwick (Butler, Pa.).
The Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor presented to an Irish student-athlete, has been given annually since 1926 to senior monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as both students and leaders. Chosen by the University's Faculty Board on Athletics, the awards are named in honor of the 1904 Notre Dame graduate who was a member of the baseball team as an undergraduate. Kanaley went on to a successful banking career in Chicago and served the University as a lay trustee until his death in 1960.
The recipients of the Notre Dame Athletics Community Champion Award were men's basketball senior Tom Knight (Dixfield, Maine), hockey senior Joe Rogers (Marysville, Mich.), softball senior Monica Torres (Winter Springs, Fla.) and women's soccer senior Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla.). This award has been established to recognize the contributions of a Notre Dame student-athlete to the University community and the community at large, who embodies the spirit of leadership, commitment, and selflessness, and who strives to make Notre Dame - as Father Jenkins put it - "a healing, unifying, enlightening force for a world deeply in need." Conferring this award recognizes student athletes who study for the sake of learning, give for the sake of giving, and understand that personal accomplishment is never achieved alone.
Men's tennis senior Greg Andrews (Richland, Mich.), men's soccer senior Adam LaPlaca (Glastonbury, Conn.), women's basketball senior Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa.), softball senior Monica Torres (Winter Springs, Fla.) and women's soccer senior Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla.) were the recipients of the Francis Patrick O'Connor Award. Since 1993, the University has presented this award in the name of O'Connor, a former student-athlete who died in 1973 following his freshman year at Notre Dame. Pat was the son of William "Bucky" O'Connor, who played guard for the Notre Dame football team in the 1940s.
The O'Connor Award honors male and female student-athletes who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions to their respective teams. To be considered, student-athletes must possess those qualities attributed to Pat O'Connor: caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, honesty, humor, kindness and patience.
Tucker, who also captured the Kanaley, O'Connor and Community Champion awards, completed a sweep of four major awards with the Top Gun Award. Tucker (4.0) owns the highest senior student-athlete grade-point average.
The Chuck Linster Award winner went to senior Hayley Hilton (Alexandria, La.) who just completed her fourth year in the student athletic-training program. Hilton majors in biology and holds a 3.846 cumulative GPA. She was awarded the Chris Clevenger Award Scholarship as a junior, which honors the most valuable member in her class. Hilton will attend medical school next fall at LSU.
A two-year team captain, Tucker helped Notre Dame to four consecutive NCAA Championship berths during her career, highlighted by the 2010 national championship. She appeared in all 92 of Notre Dame's matches in her four years, earning 87 starts, while scoring 19 goals and dishing off 14 assists.
A possible candidate to be named valedictorian of Notre Dame Class of 2014 (an extremely rare honor for a Fighting Irish student-athlete), Tucker has maintained a perfect 4.000 grade-point average as an accounting major in the Mendoza College of Business and has been a seven-time member of the University's Dean's List. A two-time first-team Capital One Academic All-America selection in 2012 and 2013, she recently was named a recipient of both the NCAA and ACC postgraduate scholarships for 2013-14.
Off the field, Tucker has donated an incredible amount of time to numerous local, regional and even national community service projects, in addition to being an active contributor in several campus groups, both inside and outside the Notre Dame athletics department.
She has been extremely involved in the Irish Fight For Life program, which brings together teams and student-athletes with a patient in the pediatric Hematology/Oncology unit at South Bend's Memorial Hospital, providing the patients and their families with support as they undergoing treatment for various types of cancers. Tucker also has participated in the Adopt-a-Family, Ronald McDonald House, Pediatric Christmas Party and Perley Elementary Tutor programs. She also has taken part in meet-and-greet events at local area middle schools, as well as soccer clinics throughout the South Bend area, notably with Michiana Special Olympians. In addition, Tucker is part of the Notre Dame Tax Assistance Program, which annually goes out into the South Bend and surrounding communities to help low-income and disabled citizens with the preparation of the tax returns.
On campus, Tucker is highly invested in helping younger Notre Dame students reach their goals through the Notre Dame Peer Advisor Program, in which she meets with 50 freshmen to discuss their academic progress and social concerns. What's more, within Notre Dame's top-ranked Mendoza College of Business, Tucker served two years as a teaching assistant in two courses -- Managerial Economics and Information Technology Management. Tucker also is an active member of two highly-regarded Notre Dame student-athlete groups -- the Rosenthal Leadership Academy and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).
Andrews is a two-time captain who was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year in 2011 and BIG EAST Player of the Year twice in 2012 and 2013 before Notre Dame joined the ACC. He helped the Irish win the BIG EAST Championship last year as a junior and then won both the singles and doubles crown at the 2013 ITA Summer Circuit Event. Andrews is a top student who has made the Dean's List every semester of his collegiate career.
This season, Andrews was named Co-ACC Player of the Week in February. He helped his team to a season-high ranking of sixth in the country as well as the semifinals of the ACC Championship. Individually, he was ranked as highly as 20th in singles and 7th in doubles.
Shipp had a storybook final season in an Irish uniform as he led his squad to the 2013 national championship -- the first in program history. A native of Lake Forest, Ill., he led his team to a sterling 17-1-6 record and a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season crown in Notre Dame's first season as a member of the nation's most illustrious soccer conference. A forward, Shipp never missed a game during his collegiate career and netted 23 goals and dished off 24 assists in 84 contests.
An Irish captain this past fall, Shipp, who is currently a member of the Chicago Fire, earned a bevy of accolades both on and off the field throughout this past season. Named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, he was a unanimous first team All-America selection and was a finalist for both the MAC Hermann Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award in addition to receiving an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. He was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the NCAA Championship while also earning all-tournament team honors. Shipp copped ACC first-team honors and was named to the ACC Championship All-Tournament team.
Shipp graduated with a degree in finance from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business with a 3.88 cumulative grade-point average and was a Dean's List honoree each of the last six semesters. He garnered first-team Capital One Academic All-America accolades and was the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for Men's Soccer, the first such Notre Dame men's soccer player to earn that award. He was honored as the NSCAA Scholar-All-America Player of the Year and was named to the NSCAA Scholar All-America First Team. Shipp also copped the ACC Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
Meinhardt is the 18th fencer to win the Kanaley (11th from the men's team) and third in that group who also has been an NCAA individual champion. He has had a fantastic career with the Irish, accumulating a 103-9 (.920) career record. Meinhardt's win percentage ranks ninth all-time (among fencers with 40+ wins) and third amongst just foilists.
At the 2014 NCAA Fencing Championships, Meinhardt clinched his second men's foil title with a rousing 15-12 victory over David Willette of Penn State. He became the sixth two-time champion - and second that weekend after Lee Kiefer's title in women's foil - and fifth four-time, first-team All-American for the Irish (first in 2014 and 2010, second in 2009 and tied for third in 2013).
Meinhardt has received critical acclaim and worldwide recognition for his feats on the fencing strip. He is a two-time Olympian, having competed with Team USA at the '08 and '12 Olympics. In addition to competing at NCAA events, Meinhardt frequently also traveled to international events, rarely finishing outside of the top three at each destination. In 2014, he was briefly ranked as the No. 1 men's foilist in the world after a third-place finish at the Paris World Cup - a first for Team USA and the Notre Dame fencing program.
Meinhardt is currently pursuing his MBA in the Mendoza College of Business after graduating with a degree in information technology management in May 2013.
Kellner, a two-time captain, has started in both the doubles and singles lineups since her freshman year. She earned BIG EAST Academic All-Star accolades all three years that she played in the BIG EAST and was named to the all-BIG East her freshman and junior years. Last year, Kellner was one of just five Notre Dame student-athletes to receive a BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award. In 2014, she went 12-8 at No. 3 singles and 11-10 at No. 2 doubles.
As both a cross-country and track captain for the Irish, Curran has seen a lot of success. This year alone, she was named ACC Cross Country Performer of the Week in the fall after she placed first in the National Catholic Championships and third in the Great Lakes Regional Championships.
In the indoor track season, Curran had a highlight performance at Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational, where her time of 4:37.10 in the mile gave her the fifth fastest time in the NCAA at that point in the season and broke the meet record previously set in 2005. She earned all-ACC honors in the Indoor Track and Field Championships with a third-place finish in the women's mile run, and became an All-American when she helped the women's distance medley relay team to a third-place finish at the Indoor NCAA Championships.
Last summer, Renwick was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division I Track and Field/Cross Country second team. He was a 2013 outdoor honoree in the long jump after he placed third in the 2013 BIG EAST Outdoor Championship. This season, Renwick contributed 10 points to the men's third-place finish at their first-ever Outdoor ACC Championships with fourth place finishes in both the men's long jump and the men's triple jump.
Knight served as one of four captains during the 2013-14 men's basketball season. He averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing in 27 contests and earning seven starts as a fifth-year senior. Knight scored in double figures in two contests and registered a season-high 13 points against Miami of Ohio in the season opener on Nov. 8, 2013 and matched his career high with nine rebounds against Boston College on Feb. 16, 2014.
After sitting out his freshman season in 2009-10, Knight played in 99 career games and made 26 starts during his career. Named Notre Dame's Most Improved Player following the 2012-13 campaign in which he played in 28 contests and earned starts in the final 16 games of the season, Knight averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds last year.
Knight graduated in May 2013 with a degree in management from the Mendoza College of Business and took graduate school classes during the past school year. He was a key member of Notre Dame's Advisory Council (SAAC) and was the SAAC liaison to the Monogram Club and ACC. A nominee for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Allstate Good Works Team, Knight served as the official community service captain for the Irish men's basketball team and spearheaded many community service activities. He planned and organized the Roc Your Body event that featured a full day of activities for youth in the South Bend/Michiana area and promoted healthy eating and exercise. Knight also served as the team liaison to a young cancer patient and had him attend many team functions throughout the season.
Rogers has been heavily involved in the Notre Dame hockey team's community service efforts since joining the team as a freshman. While working with the team and their projects, he also has branched out on several projects of his own.
Rogers was born with an under-developed right hand that keeps him from being able to close his catching glove, something that would make it hard to be a successful goaltender at any level. As a child, he had operations to try and reshape the thumb on his right hand. Despite the obstacles, and with a custom-made glove, he has learned to catch the puck and either pull it in to his chest to make a save or cover it on the ice. Through hard work and perseverance, Rogers followed his dream to play Division I hockey. He became a role model for younger kids with handicaps as he takes the time to meet and talk with these youngsters about how they can do anything they want and to never give up their dreams.
Never one to waste a spare minute, Rogers has worked with the River City Sled Rovers, a sled hockey team in the South Bend/Mishawaka area and this past January, his jersey auction for Hockey Saves, a military group that helps keep members of the military on the ice raised over $18,000. Rogers was selected as the hockey team's winner of the Compton Family Leadership in Service Award this season and was one of five finalists for the prestigious BNY/Mellon Wealth Management College Hockey Humanitarian Award that is awarded to college hockey's "top citizen" at the NCAA Hockey Frozen Four.
Following the 2012-13 season, Rogers was honored by the CCHA with the Terry Flanagan Award that is presented annually to an upperclassman that has overcome some type of personal adversity and is active on the university campus and the surrounding community. The award is named after long-time Bowling Green assistant coach Terry Flanagan who lost his battle with cancer in 1991.
Torres was a three-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star, and sports a 3.81 grade-point average in the classroom as a political science and Arabic double major. She was also named a 2013 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Scholar-Athlete in recognition of her academic achievements last season.
The ultimate team player and a tireless worker as a key utility player in her four seasons with the Irish, Torres has scored 53 career runs and stolen nine bases in 129 games played, providing a spark off the Notre Dame bench. Both of Torres' two career hits have driven in runs, including an RBI double against Boston College on March 2, 2013 and an RBI single against Radford on March 1, 2014 near her hometown at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.
Torres spent the 2013 summer studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, through Notre Dame's Summer Language Abroad Program, concentrating on the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. She was also selected as a candidate for the 2013-14 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Bahrain.
LaPlaca competed in just one match during his Fighting Irish soccer career, but he was a vital member of the squad both on and off the field. He brought his best effort to practice every day and there's no question those performances contributed to Notre Dame winning the national championship and a share of the ACC regular-season title in 2013.
LaPlaca was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team his first three seasons before the move to the ACC. He provided valuable leadership and was a role model for the younger players on the team. His ability to lead and connect to everyone on the roster was a key reason why he earned the team's Spirit Award for the 2013-14 campaign.
A two-time All-America guard on the Notre Dame women's basketball team, McBride saved her best for her final college season in 2013-14, earning consensus first-team All-America honors, in addition to being named the ACC Player of the Year by the conference's 15 head coaches and a finalist for every major national player of the year award. As a captain on Notre Dame's 37-1 NCAA national finalist and ACC championship team this year, she averaged career highs of 17.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. In addition, her 669 total points rank fifth on the school's single-season scoring list.
For her career, McBride ranks fifth on Notre Dame's scoring list with 1,876 points, as well as first all-time in free throw percentage (.882), sixth in games played (133) and double-figure scoring games (100), seventh in minutes played (3,735) and tied for ninth in games started (114). She also is one of just five players in program history to amass 1,500 points and 600 rebounds in her career, and she helped the Fighting Irish to four consecutive NCAA Women's Final Four appearances, as well as three trips to the NCAA national championship game (2011, 2012, 2014).
McBride was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round of the 2014 WNBA Draft by the San Antonio Stars, becoming Notre Dame's third WNBA Draft lottery (top-four) selection in as many years (the Fighting Irish are the second team ever to pull off that feat) and matching the highest choice in program history (Devereaux Peters ('11) was chosen third by the Minnesota Lynx in 2012, and Skylar Diggins ('13) was selected third by the Tulsa Shock in 2013).
Off the court, McBride has been active with the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) throughout her college career, culminating with her role as the University's SAAC Vice President for the 2013-14 season. She also has been a multi-year participant in Notre Dame's prestigious Rosenthal Leadership Academy and has contributed often with numerous other projects through the Notre Dame Department of Athletics' Office of Student Welfare and Development. She is completing work on her bachelor's degree in marketing from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business.
The Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded postgraduate scholarships to men's track and field senior Theodore Glasnow (Newhall, Calif.) and women's cross country/track and field senior Kelly Curran (Bloomington, Ill.).
The Notre Dame Monogram also presented its postgraduate scholarship awards to a male and female student-athlete for the third consecutive year. Each of the winners received a one-time non-renewable grant of $5,000 to further their educations.
Several team awards also were handed out during the evening. The softball team was recognized with The Trophy Award (recognizing excellence in community service) for their yearlong community service work both on the local and national levels. The team totaled nearly 600 hours of community service. They averaged 34.76 hours of community service per member of the squad.
During the school year, the softball team participated in numerous community events that included volunteering at local schools, Memorial Hospital Pediatric Unit, Hannah and Friends, the Center for the Homeless, Softball Clinics, the Pediatric Christmas Party, the Samantha Hickey Foundation, Read Across America, Fighting Irish Fight for Life, Urban Plunge, Ladybug House, Ronald McDonald House, Veterans Center, Southeast Guide Dogs, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Girls on the Run, Bald & Beautiful, Restore the Shore, Wounded Warriors and Strike Out Cancer. The Irish softball team raised over $30,000 during the Strike Out Cancer fundraiser that benefitted the Memorial Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Unit in South Bend.
The award for the highest GPA went to the men's golf team for the spring 2013 semester with a 3.423 grade index and the women's golf team earned the award for the fall 2013 semester with a 3.603 GPA. The rowing team earned the award for the highest overall GPA for the spring `13 and fall '13 with a 3.3795 overall combined average.
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