Notre Dame Student-Athletes Honored At Annual O.S.C.A.R.S. Ceremony This is the 11th-year for the traditional year-end gala honoring more than 750 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2011-12 school year.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame Department of Athletics held its annual O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements & Recognition Showcase) on Wednesday evening, May 2, inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. This year marked the 11th anniversary for the traditional year-end gala honoring more than 750 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2011-12 school year.
The presentation of the three major athletics awards - the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the Francis Patrick O'Connor Award and the Christopher Zorich Award - highlighted the evening's festivities, while the Top Gun Award and Chuck Linster Award (for the highest grade-point averages by a graduating senior student-athlete 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. Also, the Leaders of Distinction awards were announced.
The Notre Dame Monogram Club also presented its postgraduate scholarship awards to a male and female student-athlete for the second consecutive year. Each of the winners received a one-time non-renewable grant of $5,000 to further their educations.
A pair of team awards were handed out on Wednesday - The Trophy Award (recognizing excellence in community service) was presented to the women's cross country team, while the award for highest team GPA went to the Fighting Irish women's golf team for their success in the classroom, boasting a 3.638 spring GPA (2011) and a 3.655 fall GPA (2011). It marked the third consecutive year that the team has been honored for at least one semester with the highest GPA among the 26 Notre Dame athletic teams.
Men's soccer player Greg Klazura (Rockford, Ill.) was a double winner as he received both the Kanaley and the Zorich Awards.
Notre Dame's top honor, the Byron V. Kanaley Award, also was handed out to four other outstanding individuals - basketball player Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.), volleyball player Kristen Dealy (Santa Barbara, Calif.), women's tennis co-captain Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.) and men's lacrosse defenseman Kevin Randall (Penfield, N.Y.).
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.
In addition to Klazura, two members of the fencing squad, Alex Coccia (Columbus, Ohio) and Marta Stepien (South Amboy, N.J.) and hockey player Sean Lorenz (Littleton, Colo.) received the Christopher Zorich Award. First presented in 1998, the Zorich Award was created to recognize contributions of Notre Dame student athletes to the University and community at-large. The award holds the name of two-time Fighting Irish All-American and 1991 graduate who went on to play in the National Football League for both the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins before receiving his law degree from Notre Dame in 2002.
Irish senior volleyball player Frenchy Silva (Laguna Niguel, Calif.), junior rower Alyce Kanabrocki (Chicago, Ill.) and the Leprechaun, Mike George (Eden Prairie, Minn.), were the recipients of the 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.
The Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded postgraduate scholarships to two senior Monogram winners, women's tennis manager Chris Iverson (Dubuque, Iowa) and fencer Stephanie Myers (El Paso, Texas).
Women's Cross Country Team
The Irish women's cross country team was recognized with The Trophy Award for the year-long community service it performed in the South Bend and Michiana areas and on campus. The team participated in many different community events throughout the season, including I'Stepped Up at Perley Primary School, the Irish Experience League, Bald & Beautiful, Read to a Child Program, Pediatric Christmas Party, LifeWorks and the community food drives.
Throughout the school year, the women's cross country team completed more than 680 hours of community service, averaging over 28.5 hours per person as the Irish partnered with 11 non-profit organizations.
Klazura served as a team captain this past season and started every match at left back and ranked third among all Notre Dame players with a career-high three assists. He was a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in addition to being named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) all-region scholar for the second straight season.
Klazura played in 44 career games, including 39 starts, and totaled six points on one goal and four assists. He earned multiple selections to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team during his Irish career.
Klazura graduated from Notre Dame's College of Science with a degree in pre-professional studies. He finished with a 3.575 cumulative GPA.
The Vancouver Whitecaps selected Klazura in the second round (21st overall pick) of January's Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft. He currently is on that squad.
Few players at Notre Dame had as decorated a career in the classroom and on the basketball court as Abromaitis who proved to be the consummate model for all student-athletes. Despite suffering a torn ACL that ended his season in late November, Abromaitis made history when he was named the American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Scholar Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive year and became the first-ever three-time recipient of one of the league's most prestigious awards.
The two-time Irish captain distinguished himself on the basketball court and in the classroom like few players in program history. A three-time Dean's List honoree, Abromaitis earned his undergraduate degree in finance with a 3.73 grade index in May 2010 from the Mendoza College of Business in just three years. He then completed a one-year intensified MBA program and graduated with a 3.617 grade point average in earning his master's degree in May 2011.
A two-time first team Academic All-American in '10 and '11, Abromaitis also was the recipient of the BIG EAST Scholar Athlete Sport Excellence Award for men's basketball in each of those two seasons. He also became the first Irish men's basketball player to earn first-team Academic All-America honors in back-to-back seasons since Pat Garrity in 1997 and 1998.
Abromaitis became the third player in BIG EAST history in '11 to win the men's basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year in back-to-back years. Connecticut's Emeka Okafor was a two-time recipient in both 2003 and 2004, while Seton Hall's Arturas Karnishovas was the honoree in both 1993 and 1994.
Abromaitis was a third-team all-BIG EAST selection in '11 and earned a spot on the honorable mention team in '10. He was an all-BIG EAST first team pick in the preseason this past fall.
A member of the '11 USA Men's World University Basketball Team in August, Abromaitis averaged 15.2 points and a career-best 6.2 rebounds during the 2010-11 campaign in helping lead Notre Dame to a 27-7 overall record and second-place finish in the BIG EAST Conference with a 14-4 mark. In conference play, he netted 14.7 points and grabbed 5.4 rebounds. In 2009-10, he averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Abromaitis is one of 52 players in Notre Dame history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. In 83 career outings, that included 62 starts, he scored 1,137 career points for a 13.7 scoring average. After scoring just 20 points as a freshman in 2007-08 and sitting out the 2008-09 campaign, Abromaitis totaled 1,089 points during the '10-'11 and '11-'12 seasons.
A four-year starter for the Irish volleyball squad, Dealy became just the eighth player in program history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. Dealy finished fourth on the all-time charts with 38 double-doubles, seventh with 1,294 digs, fifth with 3.06 digs/set and 12th with 1,205 kills.
The second player in league history to four times earn BIG EAST Championship all-tournament team honors, Dealy was a preseason all-league choice in 2011 and went on to earn second-team honors in her final campaign. A two-time co-captain, Dealy was named MVP of Wisconsin's 2011 InnTowner Invitational while earning a similar honor at the 2009 Notre Dame Invitational.
The outside hitter from Santa Barbara, Calif., who will be remembered as one of the hardest hitters in Irish history, is set to graduate with degrees in American studies and film, television and theater.
Mathews has enjoyed a dynamic playing career with the Irish women's tennis program. For each of the last three seasons, the Birmingham, Mich., native has served as the team's No. 1 or 2 singles player, while also representing one half of the squad's No.1 doubles duo for each of the last two years.
A four-time selection to the all-BIG EAST team and 2012 BIG EAST Player of the Year, Mathews has amassed 105 career doubles victories to accompany 93 career singles wins. This season, she and doubles partner Kristy Frilling became the fourth Irish duo to climb to No. 1 in the nation and represent just the sixth Notre Dame tandem to finish the year ranked in the top 10 after concluding the regular season ranked eighth.
Off the court, Mathews also has enjoyed tremendous success. A three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete, she has been tabbed a BIG EAST Academic All-Star each of her first three years with the Irish. Her extracurricular activities include taking part in the Pediatric Christmas Party each of the last three years, Adopt a Family and the Aidan Project.
Mathews currently sports a 3.483 grade-point average while pursuing a B.B.A. (Bachelors of Business Administration) in finance from Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.
Randall has been a key cog in Notre Dame's stout defense over the past four seasons. He has played in 50 career games with 44 starts and has helped the Irish qualify for the NCAA Tournament three times, including a run to the national title game in 2010. The Irish have finished each of the past three seasons ranked in the top-five nationally in team defense and Notre Dame currently ranks first nationally in that category.
Randall, a team captain, garnered preseason All-America honors and is a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The Charlotte Hounds selected Randall in the seventh round (49th overall selection) of the 2012 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft.
Randall boasts a 3.542 cumulative GPA as a civil engineering major in Notre Dame's College of Engineering. He has been named to the Dean's List each of the last three semesters.
Alex Coccia recently completed his second year with the Irish fencing program, putting together a 32-18 ledger in sabre. The Columbus, Ohio, native has twice earned second-team, all-Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) honors after placing fifth at the event in '11 and sixth in '12.
A member of the 2011 NCAA National Championship team, Coccia enjoyed a 20-7 record that season before heading overseas to teach the sport of fencing to underprivileged children in the country of Uganda during a six-week mission trip to Africa.
He has participated in several other community service events in the Michiana area over his first two years, including the Walk for Down Syndrome, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk (JDRF) and the Pediatric Christmas Party while also serving as the Progressive Student Alliance co-president.
Currently, Coccia carries a 3.894 grade-point average and a spot on the Dean's List as he pursues his degree in African studies with a supplemental major in peace studies from the College of Arts and Letters.
Stepien enjoyed her most productive season with the Irish fencing team this year, compiling a 36-5 record for the team in sabre. Overall, the junior from South Amboy, N.J., sports a 92-8 record in her first 100 bouts. Additionally, Stepien was pegged a second-team, all-MFC member after placing fifth at the 2011 MFC Championships, earning her the Janusz Bednarski Award following the season for her leadership within the team in sabre.
In addition to her success on the strip, Stepien has also participated in the Walk for Down Syndrome, the Irish Experience League, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk, the Pediatric Christmas Party and the Rebuild Tuscaloosa trip.
Stepien currently carries a 3.264 grade-point average while pursuing a degree in marketing with a supplemental major in economics from the Mendoza College of Business.
Notre Dame hockey senior defenseman Sean Lorenz (Littleton, Colo.) was involved with the community service efforts of the Irish hockey team throughout his four years at Notre Dame. In 2011-12, he took it to new levels. As one of the team's captains this past season, he oversaw the hockey team's community service efforts and was the team's liaison to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). With SAAC, Lorenz was the committee's representative to the Notre Dame Monogram Club that works with past and current University monogram winners.
As for community service, Lorenz and the hockey team participated in many of the University's programs, including the Junior Diabetes Walk and Kids Fighting Obesity. The team also participated in the annual Pediatric Oncology Christmas Party and adopted a local needy family at Christmas, helping to provide them with gifts for the holidays. Sean and several team members also were involved with the Life Work's Dream Teams that visited area schools to talk to kids about setting goals and striving to work towards their dreams. The Irish hockey team worked many hours with area youth hockey groups throughout the season, giving clinics and participating in practices. In recognition of his community service involvement, the senior defenseman was a nominee for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Mike and Marian Ilitch Humanitarian Award and was a nominee for College Hockey's national Humanitarian Award that goes to college hockey's top citizen.
Lorenz combined a strong academic background with his hockey skills and community service work to be one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. On the ice, Lorenz helped the Irish to a 19-18-3 overall record and was third in scoring among defensemen with three goals and 10 assists for 13 points. He finished his Irish career ranked ninth all-time in games played with 157 and had nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points while playing on one CCHA championship team (2008-09) and one Frozen Four team (2010-11).
A scrappy libero from Laguna Niguel, Calif., Silva wrapped up her Irish career ranked third in both digs/set (3.55) and matches with team-high digs (50). Even more, only three players in program history recorded more digs than Silva (1,434).
Silva was named to the all-tournament teams at the InnTowner Invitational and Shamrock Invitational in 2011. Silva was named team captain for her senior campaign just months after earning a spot on the U.S. Women's National A2 Team.
Named the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award winner in 2010, Silva steered the Irish to a pair of appearances in the BIG EAST Championship title match along with a trip to the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Kanabrocki currently is in her junior season with the Irish rowing team, having served as a part of both the novice eight boat and third varsity eight boat for the majority of her first three years. Last season, she helped the third varsity eight claim gold at the BIG EAST Championship as Notre Dame went on to capture the team title for the eighth consecutive year.
The Chicago, Ill., native also has been active in the community, helping the rowing team organize an on-campus Ergathon for Pancreatic Cancer fundraiser. Additionally, she has taken part in the Irish Experience League, Pediatric Christmas Party and the Rebuild Tuscaloosa trip.
Kanabrocki is currently pursuing a degree in environmental sciences from the College of Science.
George was the Irish Leprechaun for two years, earning his second Monogram this past spring. He will begin his career in Southern Indiana after graduating with a 3.243 GPA and a degree in mechanical engineering. His role within the cheerleading squad was led by the quintessential fervor he brought to each and every Irish athletic event he attended.
Iverson, a two-year manager with the football team (2009-11) who currently serves as senior manager for women's tennis, will graduate in May 2012 from the University's College of Science with a degree in science business and plans to attend medical school in the fall at the University of Iowa.
Iverson owns a 3.796 cumulative grade point average and has been a Dean's List member in six of seven semesters at Notre Dame.
When not assisting the women's tennis program with its day-to-day activities, he is an active member of the South Bend community. Iverson volunteers as both an Alzheimer's caretaker and a nursing home assistant at Healthwin Specialized Care, and has spent the Christmas season teaming up with his fellow managers to gather donations, shop for presents, and help make the holidays memorable for local citizens through the Adopt A Family program. Iverson has worked with Notre Dame's Bold and the Beautiful program for the past few years, which benefits the Pediatric Outpatient Program at South Bend's Memorial Hospital.
While at Notre Dame, Iverson also has served as a lector with Notre Dame's Morrissey Hall Ministry, is active with the Knights of Columbus and has mentored students as a basketball coach with the Special Olympics.
Myers will graduate in May 2012 from Notre Dame's College of Science/Arts and Letters with a degree in biological sciences and sociology. She plans to enroll in Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall.
She has accumulated a 3.73 grade point average and has been a Dean's List member in three semesters at Notre Dame. Myer serves as a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society - an international organization for collegiate sociology students - and is a four-year member of the University's biology club.
Myers has accumulated a 37-35 (.514) career record in epee as a four-year member of the Irish fencing team and earned a monogram as a senior in 2012.
In addition to her academic and athletic commitments, Myers serves as lector for Pangborn Hall and also has worked as a member of the dormitory's freshman orientation program. She is an active part of the annual Domer Doggy Walk, sponsored by the University's Pre-Veterinary Club, which raises money for the Spay and Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) of St. Joseph County. In her hometown of El Paso, Myers also volunteers with the Animal Rescue League and has worked with the facility's adoption program and vaccination clinic.
The Chuck Linster Award winner, Devin Blankenship (Goshen, Ind.), is member of the cheerleading squad. He has a 3.816 grade point average and will graduate with a science pre-professional degree from the College of Science and will be attending medical school at Indiana University in the fall.
A full rundown of the award winners from Wednesday night's OSCARS event are as follows: