April 29, 2015 NOTRE DAME, Ind. ---- Rower Anna Kottkamp (Wenatchee, Washington), who has maintained a perfect 4.00 grade point average while a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame, and swimmer Emma Reaney (Lawrence, Kansas), an American record holder and the most decorated swimmer in the history of the Fighting Irish women’s or men’s swimming and diving programs, were the top honorees at the Athletic Department’s 14th annual O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievement & Recognition Showcase) gala on Wednesday evening, April 29 inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The year-end celebration honored more than 700 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2014-15 school year.
Kottkamp and Reaney were two of five honorees to receive the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor awarded to a graduating Notre Dame student-athlete. Kottkamp also was the recipient of the Top Gun Award, while Reaney was one of five recipients of the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award.
In addition to Kottkamp and Reaney, the three other Kanaley Award recipients were women’s golfer Ashley Armstrong (Flossmoor, Illinois), cross country/track and field runner Emily Frydrych (Wilmington, Delaware) and hockey player Peter Schneider (Vienna, Austria).
Joining Reaney as recipients of the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award were men’s basketball standout Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Massachusetts), football player Jarrett Grace (Cincinnati, Ohio), men’s soccer player Connor Klekota (Amherst, Ohio), and women’s soccer player Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Illinois).
The Francis Patrick 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. Five individuals were awarded the Community Champion Award — softball player Casey Africano (Huntington Beach, California), hockey player Eric Johnson (Verona, Wisconsin), women’s lacrosse player Katherine McManus (Sharon, Massachusetts), football player Corey Robinson (San Antonio, Texas) and cheerleader Ryan Lopez (Littleton, Colorado).
The establishment of this award recognizes the contributions of a Notre Dame student-athlete to the University community and the community at large, and who embodies the spirit of leadership, commitment, and selflessness, and who strives to make Notre Dame -- as University President the Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., 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.
Kottkamp became just the third rower to receive the Kanaley Award and the first to win the Top Gun Award. The winner of the 2014 NCAA Elite 89 Award, she has rowed exclusively with Notre Dame’s varsity eight boat each of the past three seasons and has been a member of teams that have participated in the NCAA Championships three times. A year ago, she helped her squad to a ninth-place finish (matching a program-best) at the NCAAs. As a junior, Kottkamp earned the Atlantic Coast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors and was tabbed as a National Scholar-Athlete by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association for the second consecutive year. She guided the Irish to two BIG EAST team titles in 2012 and 2013 and rowed on crews that won two gold medals.
A member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, Kottkamp is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, volunteers extensively in the community and participates with Notre Dame’s Voices of Faith Gospel Choir. Three years ago, she traveled to Honduras to participate in a Global Health Seminar. Kottkamp will graduate in May from the College of Science with a degree in environmental sciences and international studies.
Reaney enjoyed one of the finest careers in recent memory for any Notre Dame student-athlete. As a junior, she became the first Fighting Irish swimmer to win a national title, claiming first at the NCAA championships in the 200-yard breaststroke in an American-record time of 2:04.06. It is believed that she is the first Notre Dame student-athlete past or present to hold an American record. An eight-time All-American and five-time honorable mention honoree, Reaney currently is in her second year as a member of the United States National Team.
Honored as the ACC Swimmer of the Year and the ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2014, she won 14 conference titles (10 BIG EAST and four ACC) during her career and earned all-conference honors on 18 occasions. A Dean’s List honoree, Reaney earned Capital One First Team Women’s At-Large Academic All-America honors as a junior and will graduate from the College of Arts and Letters with a degree in design and concentration in visual communications.
Armstrong is just the second women’s golfer to receive the Kanaley Award and will graduate in May from the College of Engineering with a degree in mechanical engineering. A two-time captain, she was named to the ACC All-Academic Team and the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Scholar All-America Team as a junior. Armstrong has earned Academic All-America honors in both 2013 (third team) and 2014 (second team).
Armstrong, she ranks third in school history with a 74.94 career stroke average that includes five top-five and nine top-10 finishes. Armstrong has helped her team to four consecutive NCAA Regional appearances (2012-15) and the 2013 BIG EAST Conference title. As a freshman in 2012, she captured the BIG EAST individual crown and twice earned all-BIG EAST honors. She also represents the women’s golf team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).
As a senior this season, Frydrych has served as a captain for both the women’s cross country and track and field teams. She has helped the Fighting Irish cross country team to appearances in the NCAA Championships each of the last two seasons. Frydrych competed in all six meets during the fall, had a season-best fifth-place finish at the National Catholic Championships and finished 122nd overall at the NCAA meet in November 2014.
A distance specialist during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, she finished 15th at the ACC Indoor Championships in the 5,000 meters. Frydrych will graduate with a degree in psychology from the College of Arts and Letters and minors in education, schooling and society and poverty studies.
Schneider skated in 41 of Notre Dame’s 42 games in 2014-15, scoring seven times and adding nine assists for 16 points. An alternate captain, he was at his best in the Hockey East playoffs, notching eight of his 16 points during the postseason, including a career-high three assists in Notre Dame’s March 8 win over Massachusetts in the decisive Game 3 of a grueling first round series which featured the longest game in college hockey history.
Providing needed depth in Notre Dame’s offensive lineup, the Irish were 7-2-2 in the 11 games where Schneider recorded at least one point, including each of the team’s three postseason victories. He played in 138 career outings, scored 22 goals and dished off 25 assists (47 points). Schneider is a three-time recipient of the hockey team’s Rockne Student-Athlete award and will graduate from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in economics and finance and a minor in actuary. He is a participant in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy.
A two-time captain, Connaughton led his Fighting Irish team to its first-ever ACC Championship title, the second 30-win season in school history (32-6) and its first NCAA Championship Elite Eight appearance since 1979. A third-team all-ACC honoree, he averaged 12.5 points and a team-leading 7.4 rebounds. He played in more games (139) than any other player in program history (never missing a game) and started 123 (120 consecutive starts) of those contests (third all-time). Connaughton becomes the third men’s basketball recipient of the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award.
Named to the Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team, he finished as only the eighth player in school history with 1,400 career points (1,465) and 800 rebounds (823). Connaughton earned his degree in management consulting from the Mendoza College of Business.
Grace did not play a down for the football team in 2014 but helped push the Irish to a 6-0 spurt to start the season through to a season-closing victory over LSU in the Music City Bowl. The team’s leading tackler midway through the 2013 season, the linebacker suffered a horrific leg injury during the Oct. 5, 2013, Shamrock Series game against Arizona State. Multiple surgeries and other associated procedures to his leg kept Grace off of the field for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014.
Grace remained a fixture around the team during his lengthy and often-grueling rehabilitation, inspiring his teammates with his hard work and dedication to return to the field while also helping to mentor younger linebackers who played in his absence. Grace returned to the practice field prior to the bowl game and enjoyed a solid performance during the April 18 Blue-Gold Spring Game, making a pair of tackles, breaking up a pass and applying two pass pressures.
He will graduate in May with a degree in management consulting from the Mendoza College of Business.
A junior midfielder, Klekota played in 20 contests and earned 14 starts in leading the Fighting Irish to the ACC regular-season championship, scoring one goal and dishing off four assists (six points). After not seeing action during his freshman season in 2012, he played in all 24 matches and earned starts in each of Notre Dame’s final 14 contests en route to the program’s first-ever national championship.
A participant in Notre Dame’s Rosenthal Leadership Academy, he is enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business as a management consulting major.
Naughton enjoyed a stellar junior season at center back for the women’s soccer team, leading all Fighting Irish defenders with four goals scored over her 22 starts in 2014. A second-team all-ACC selection, she was the only player on the Notre Dame roster to clock more than 2,000 cumulative minutes of playing time in 2014. Naughton has earned starts in all 67 games she has played in during her career and has tallied nine goals and dished off two assists.
A participant in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy, she was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) all-Southeast Region second team and the NSCAA Scholar All-America third team. A former member of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team, Naughton currently is taking part in the U.S. Under-23 National Team camp that will help select the 20-player roster that will compete in Norway next month against Sweden, Norway and England. She serves as the ACC representative to SAAC and is pursuing a double major in anthropology and Spanish in the College of Arts and Letters.
Africano, a junior who sees time as both a catcher and outfielder, has helped the Irish to a 40-12 record and a No. 22 national ranking. She has played in 40 contests and earned 23 starts this season. Africano is batting .263 and has connected on a career-high 20 hits, three homeruns and 16 RBIs in 2015.
She serves as SAAC’s Forums chair, is among the leader in her team’s community service efforts and is active in the team’s Strikeout Cancer Initiative. Africano volunteers her time conducting free softball clinics for youths in the area, reading to students at local elementary schools and spending time at the Juvenile Detention Center and Center for the Homeless. During the summer of 2015, the sociology and theology major will be going to Ghana to teach for eight weeks where she will spend time helping to organize after school activities.
During his senior season, Johnson fought through injuries to skate in 18 games for the Irish this past season. The steady defenseman also worked tirelessly off of the ice mentoring a young blueline corps that often dressed three freshmen out of its six skaters.
He was in the lineup throughout the team’s impressive stretch in February where it defeated three top 10 teams, including eventual national champion Providence and NCAA runner-up Boston University along with then-No. 9 Boston College. At the recent hockey awards banquet, Johnson received both the team’s “Lefty” Smith Coaches Award and the Compton Family Leadership in Service Award for his work on and off the ice. He also was a national nominee for the College Hockey Humanitarian Award.
A participant in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy and a two-year member of SAAC, he helped lead a student-athlete initiative that promoted a diet and exercise program for at-risk children and worked with Real Services to identify a disabled woman who needed help around her house. Johnson was instrumental in the launch and planning of “Movember,” a drive to raise awareness that includes an emphasis on prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
McManus, a junior, has seen her playing time greatly increase this season for the 10th-ranked women’s lacrosse team, appearing in 11 games this spring after seeing time in just nine contests over her first two years combined. She has been steady in her defensive work and has received credit for one ground ball and one caused turnover.
McManus has been named as one of five national finalists for the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award, presented to the male and female lacrosse players who contribute to their teams while bringing joy and inspiration to their teammates and those around them. She earned an ACC Top 6 For Service Award last summer for her dedicated work with the Fighting Irish Fight For Life program.
She serves as a chair of community service on SAAC and helped organize the Notre Dame student-athlete Habitat For Humanity build in South Bend that has been ongoing throughout the 2014-15 school year. McManus also participated in the national campaign “It’s On Us,” to raise awareness on sexual assault.
Robinson, a sophomore wide receiver, was second on the football team this past fall in both receptions (40) and touchdown receptions (five) while ranking third with 539 receiving yards. Of his 40 catches, 32 were good for a first down or TD. Using both speed and leaping ability on deep balls, he had 10 catches of at least 20 yards on the season. Robinson’s biggest game of the year was perhaps also the team’s biggest game of the season, snaring eight passes for a career-high 99 yards and a pair of TDs in the 31-27 loss at No. 2 Florida State on Oct. 18. He had another eight-catch day against Syracuse on Sept. 27, this one good for 91 yards and a single TD. Robinson became the first sophomore at a Division I school since 2008 to earn first-team Capital One Academic All-America accolades. He is enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters as a Liberal Studies major.
A member of SAAC, Robinson chairs the Student-Athlete Advisory Council’s IrishOn3 initiative. He participates in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy and serves on the Notre Dame Student Government Executive Cabinet, assisting the University’s International and Undergraduate Admissions Office. He also serves on the Notre Dame Christian Athletes group that seeks to provide student-athletes with a welcome place of refuge to inspire spiritual growth and community through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lopez serves as captain of the Notre Dame cheerleading team. Enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business as a marketing major, he made more than 100 appearances as a member of the squad at athletic events, pep rallies and community service projects.
William Hughes (Utica, New York), a senior manager with the men’s basketball team, received the Chuck Linster Award. The award is named for Linster, who was an Athletics Department photographer for 44 years. Hughes is enrolled in the College of Science and will graduate in May with a degree in physics.
The Monogram Club also presented its postgraduate scholarship awards to a male and female student-athlete for the fourth consecutive year. Armstrong and Schneider were the recipients of a one-time non-renewable grant of $5,000 to further their educations.
For the second consecutive year and the fourth time since the award’s establishment in 2006, the softball team earned The Trophy Award (recognizing excellence in community service) for their yearlong community service work both on the local and national levels. The softball team totaled more than 2,000 hours of community service for an average of over 100 hours per student-athlete.
The award for the highest grade-point average went to the women's golf team for the spring 2014 semester with a 3.458 GPA and to the men's cross country team for the fall 2014 semester with a 3.487 GPA.