April 28, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame Department of Athletics held its ninth annual O.S.C.A.R.S (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements & Recognition Showcase) Wednesday evening inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, with the traditional year-end gala honoring more than 750 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2009-10 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-Athletics. 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.
Three team awards also were handed out on Wednesday - The Trophy Award (recognizing excellence in community service) was presented to the Notre Dame women's basketball team, while awards for the highest team GPA went to the Fighting Irish women's tennis team (spring 2009 semester) and women's golf team (fall 2009 semester).
Senior hockey center Kevin Deeth (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and senior women's tennis player Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan.) were double award recipients on Wednesday night, with both receiving the Kanaley and Zorich awards.
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. Along with Deeth and Krisik, football player Mike Anello (Orland Park, Ill.), women's basketball player Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind.), softball player Christine Lux (Glendale Heights, Ill.) and swimmer John Lytle (Clearfield, Pa.) were this year's Kanaley award recipients.
Deeth, Krisik, fencer Zach Schirtz (Rochester, N.Y.), women's basketball player Erica Williamson (Charlotte, N.C.) and women's lacrosse player Maggie Zentgraf (Charlottesville, Va.) received the Christopher Zorich Award, which was 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 the 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.
Volleyball player Megan Fesl (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and fencer Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) were the 2010 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 and inspirations 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. Joining Krisik, Lechlitner and Zuck as recipients of this year's Leaders of Distinction Award - presented to those individuals deemed exceptional leaders by their coaches and teammates - were men's tennis player Tyler Davis (Nashville, Tenn.), cheerleader Kelsey Ingram (Mercer Island, Wash.) and volleyball player Jamel Nicholas (Gibsonia, Pa.).
The Notre Dame women's basketball team was recognized with The Trophy Award for its year-long work with various groups in the South Bend area, including reading and mentoring to grade school students, collecting donations for Riley Children's Hospital, participating in Fight 4 Life (a pediatric cancer charity run by Memorial Hospital of South Bend) and run, jane, run (which benefits area chapters of the YWCA), conducting basketball clinics at area youth centers, and assisting with fundraising for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Pink Zone initiative, for which Notre Dame raised more than $103,000 in 2009-10. The women's basketball team's community service efforts were spearheaded by Williamson, who also served as president of this year's Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), with the Fighting Irish women's basketball team compiling more than 325 team hours of community service (averaging better than 25 hours per student-athlete).
Established by the Office of Student Welfare and Development, co-sponsored by the Notre Dame Monogram Club and Notre Dame Alumni Association, and first presented in 2006, The Trophy Award annually recognizes a Fighting Irish athletics team that has demonstrated its commitment and dedication to the community through unparalleled community service to Notre Dame and South Bend.
Men's cross country/track & field athlete Jim Notwell (Upper Arlington, Ohio) received the Top Gun Award, recognizing the graduating student-athlete with the highest grade-point average (Notwell currently maintains a 3.944 GPA). Meanwhile, student athletic trainer Ted Lee (Peoria, Ill.) was presented with the Chuck Linster Award, given annually to a senior member of the athletics student support group (athletic trainers, cheerleaders and student managers) with the highest grade-point average (Lee holds a 3.825 GPA). The eighth hockey player to earn the Kanaley Award (third in as many years) and the fourth to take home the Zorich Award, Deeth is a four-year monogram winner for the Fighting Irish, serving as an alternate team captain during the 2009-10 season. His influence was felt both on and off the ice and in the classroom. Deeth finished his Notre Dame career as the all-time leader in games played and finished tied for 35th on the all-time points list with 114 career points (35g, 79a).
Off the ice, Deeth oversaw the community service efforts of the Fighting Irish hockey team. Among the top programs in community service hours at Notre Dame, hockey was involved with the South Bend School District's "Dream Team" where players served as mentors at local elementary schools. They also worked with the Robinson Center and its after school efforts, as well as working with area hockey programs doing clinics and assisting at practices.
What's more, Deeth oversaw the highly successful "Shirts Off Their Backs" jersey auction that benefitted the Wounded Warriors Project. The on-line jersey auction raised $16,604.60, and with several benefactors providing matching gifts, the event raised $41,604.60.
For his efforts in the community, Deeth was a nominee for college hockey's Humanitarian Award that goes to the game's "top citizen." He also was a finalist for the CCHA's Mike and Marian Ilitch Humanitarian Award. In the classroom, Deeth has a 3.568 grade-point average as a marketing major in the Mendoza College of Business. He was Notre Dame's representative on the CCHA's Scholar-Athlete team and is this year's team recipient of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award. He also was recently nominated for ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.
A four-year monogram winner, Krisik is the 10th women's tennis player to win the Kanaley Award and the first to earn the Zorich Award. She will end her collegiate career ranking among the top five in five career categories at Notre Dame. With a career singles record of 96-25 and a doubles mark of 128-34, Krisik is second all-time in doubles dual-match victories, third in doubles wins, combined wins and combined dual wins and fifth in singles dual-match winning percentage. She also tied the school record for doubles wins in a season with 37 as a freshman in 2006-07.
An all-BIG EAST Conference and BIG EAST All-Tournament Team selection this year, Krisik is currently ranked third in the nation with doubles partner Kristy Frilling, and the duo holds a 21-0 record at No. 1 doubles this season. After compiling a 3-0 record at both No. 5 singles and No. 1 doubles, and clinching the win for the Fighting Irish in the final match of the league championship, Krisik was named the 2010 BIG EAST Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, becoming the sixth Notre Dame player to earn the honor.
Krisik also is active in the South Bend community, volunteering with a number of organizations. She has worked with the mentoring program at Perley Elementary School, Fighting Irish Fight for Life, the CASIE Center, Notre Dame Dream Team at McKinley Elementary, Bike Michiana for Hospice, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes, the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk, St. Joseph County Special Olympics and the South Bend Police Department summer tennis camps. An Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Scholar-Athlete and two-time BIG EAST All-Academic Team member, Krisik is a sociology major in Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters.
A fan favorite since 2007, Anello earned the nickname "Rudy with responsibility" due to the contributions he made to the Fighting Irish football team as a walk-on student-athlete. Anello was a special-teams stalwart that dazzled Notre Dame fans with his innate playmaking ability on kickoff and punt coverage units. He burst onto the scene in the third game of the 2007 season at Michigan.
As a member of the punt coverage unit that day in the "Big House," Anello recorded a solo tackle on his second play in a Fighting Irish uniform and his legend was born. As a starting gunner, he tallied 37 total tackles from 2007-09 and made 333 special-teams appearances. In 2008, he played in the first 12 games and paced Notre Dame with 23 special-teams tackles while posting eight multi-tackle games. He forced two fumbles and recovered one fumble on special teams plus added one pass breakup as a reserve defensive back as a senior. Anello was rewarded by the Fighting Irish coaching staff for his production on the field and received a full athletics scholarship for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Anello's best accomplishments at Notre Dame did not occur on the gridiron but in the classroom. He graduated in three and a half years with a finance degree from the Mendoza College of Business and earned a 3.937 cumulative grade-point average during his undergraduate career. He also was named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team in 2008 and 2009, and he earned the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete of the Year Award as both a senior and fifth-year senior.
In addition, Anello was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, recognizing him as being in the top five percent of the business school, and he received the Paul F. Conway Award in 2008, signifying him as the top overall finance student in the Mendoza College of Business. A three-year monogram winner, Anello was recipient of the 2008 Nick Pietrosante Award, presented annually to the Notre Dame football player who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Fighting Irish All-America fullback. In 2009, Anello was named to the Lott Award watch list and was a finalist for the ARA Sportsmanship Award. He also is the 28th football player chosen to receive the Kanaley Award since it was first presented 84 years ago, but the first gridder to be honored since Marcus Thorne in 1996.
Lechlitner, the eighth women's basketball player to receive the Kanaley Award, recently was named the team's Monogram Club MVP for the second consecutive year after successfully piloting Notre Dame to one of the most productive seasons in school history in 2009-10. Lechlitner led the team in assists (tied - 3.2 apg.), three-point percentage (.420) and free throw percentage (.849), setting new career highs in all three categories. A two-year team tri-captain, she also ranked among the team leaders in scoring (5th - 8.4 ppg.) and assist/turnover ratio (3rd - 1.27) while starting all 35 games and playing a team-high 1,030 minutes. With Lechlitner at the helm, Notre Dame averaged 77.2 points per game (11th in the nation) and 18.1 assists per game (sixth in the nation), while finishing an entire season with a positive assist/turnover ratio (1.11 - 10th in the nation) for the second time in school history, both in the past three seasons and both with Lechlitner on the roster.
For her career, Lechlitner ranks among the top 10 in school history for career games played (tied/2nd - 131), free throw percentage (6th - .800) and assists (6th - 388), and she became the 26th Fighting Irish player to score 1,000 career points, reaching that milestone in her final collegiate game with 22 points against Oklahoma in the NCAA Kansas City Regional semifinals on March 28.
Thanks to that effort in the Sweet 16, Lechlitner was named to the NCAA Kansas City Regional All-Tournament Team, adding to her selection earlier this season on the Paradise Jam Island Division All-Tournament Team. She also was an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Second Team selection after compiling a 3.38 cumulative grade-point average as a psychology major in the College of Arts and Letters. In addition, Lechlitner earned the Leaders of Distinction Award for the second consecutive year (the honor first was introduced in 2009).
As a junior in 2009, Lux amassed a .329 batting average while also tallying 15 home runs, a number that tied the program's single-season mark for home runs that she herself set in 2008. She was an NFCA All-Region, first team all-BIG EAST, ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District, and BIG EAST All-Tournament Team honoree.
Lux is an accounting major in the Mendoza College of Business and a member of Notre Dame's Rosenthal Leadership Academy. She is the seventh softball player to collect the Kanaley Award.
The 2009-10 BIG EAST Men's Swimming Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Lytle set a new Notre Dame benchmark with 22 total all-BIG EAST accolades throughout his career. He holds three individual school records (50 free, 100 free, 200 free) and four relay school records (400 medley, 200 free, 400 free, 800 free), while leading Notre Dame to two BIG EAST team titles (2008, 2009) and a pair of runner-up finishes (2007, 2010). This year's team recipient of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award, Lytle is a two-time College Swimming Coaches Association All-Academic Team Honorable Mention selection, as well as a member of Notre Dame's Rosenthal Leadership Academy and Academic Honors for Student-Athletes program.
Lytle is a finance major enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business, and he has been named to the dean's list four times. He is the eighth member of the Notre Dame men's swimming & diving program to earn the Kanaley Award.
Meanwhile, Schirtz is the first fencer to be named a Zorich Award recipient. As a junior in 2009-10, he served as Notre Dame's team captain and posted a 39-9 regular season record in foil, pushing his career win total past the century mark. Then, in the postseason, Schirtz finished seventh at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships to earn second-team all-conference honors. At the NCAA Midwest Regional, Schirtz turned in a seventh-place finish.
In addition to serving as this year's SAAC president, Williamson is the second women's basketball player to earn the Zorich Award. A veteran leader on this year's team, she appeared in 34 games, becoming a full-time starter late in the regular season and throughout the postseason. She ranked second on the team with a .602 field goal percentage (including a .700 mark in the postseason and a .727 ratio in the NCAA Championship) and she wound up third on the squad with 19 blocked shots. The quintessential teammate, Williamson made the most of her 12.1 minutes per game, averaging 4.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, including a season-high 16 points (and her first career three-pointer) in a BIG EAST Championship second-round win over Louisville in Hartford, Conn.
Williamson departs Notre Dame ranked eighth on the school's career blocked shot list (125) and tied for fifth on the Fighting Irish career games played chart (130). She recently signed a free agent contract with the WNBA's New York Liberty and is one of three former Notre Dame women's basketball players currently in WNBA training camps (Ruth Riley ('01) and Charel Allen ('08) are suiting up with the San Antonio Silver Stars).
Zentgraf is a senior captain with the Fighting Irish women's lacrosse team who has been a tremendous role model for her teammates and fellow student-athletes during her four seasons at Notre Dame, becoming the second women's lacrosse player to earn the Zorich Award. A two-time monogram winner, she is one of the University's top student-athletes in the area of community service.
Now in her third year as a member of the school's Student-Athlete Advisory Council, she serves as that group's liaison to the Notre Dame Monogram Board. A member of two NCAA Tournament teams (2008, 2009) and the 2009 BIG EAST Championship team, Zentgraf played 46 career games as a midfielder and attack player before her season came to an end on April 17, 2010, due to a knee injury.
Known for her ability to motivate teammates and others to action, Zentgraf puts in countless hours of community service work in the South Bend community and her hometown of Charlottesville, Va. She has volunteered and interned at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend. Following Hurricane Katrina, she and her family spent 10 days in Biloxi, Miss., helping in the recovery efforts. A BIG EAST All-Academic Team choice in 2009, she works at a summer lacrosse camp for underprivileged kids in her hometown and through her church she has participated in trips to southwest Virginia to work on Habitat for Humanity projects.
Fesl was a pivotal cog in leading the nationally-ranked Fighting Irish volleyball squad to a regular season BIG EAST title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament this past season. She also was one of eight players who helped Notre Dame claim the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge at Fiesta On Siesta Key as a junior in 2008. Fesl found herself on the all-tournament teams at Missouri's Tiger Invitational and Notre Dame's Shamrock Invitational in 2007. Fesl, a marketing major in the Mendoza College of Business, is a member of Notre Dame's Student-Athlete Advisory Council and the third volleyball player to receive the O'Connor Award in its 17-year history.
Zuck is just the second fencer to be named a Francis Patrick O'Connor Award recipient. He comes off a year that saw him post a 34-7 record in sabre regular season action, helping the Irish to an undefeated record of 33-0. He went on to finish sixth at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships before turning in a runner-up performance at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Then, at the NCAA Championship, he tied for third to take the bronze medal in sabre and earn first-team All-America status.
In just three seasons, Zuck has topped the 100-win plateau and now has 101 regular season wins against just 23 losses. In 2009, he earned his first All-American honor with a fifth-place showing at the NCAA Championship, where he notched 17 wins to help lead the Fighting Irish to a runner-up finish. Prior to his All-America performance, Zuck finished as the runner-up at the NCAA Midwest Regional.
As a junior in 2009-10, Davis serves as Notre Dame's men's tennis team captain. Through BIG EAST Championship play, he has posted a 4-1 dual season singles record and an overall 2009-10 singles record of 7-5. In doubles play, where Davis excels, he has been a part of 13 dual season wins playing primarily at the No. 2 position. Most recently, he teamed with Niall Fitzgerald to clinch the doubles point against South Florida in the BIG EAST semifinals, helping send the Fighting Irish to the 2010 BIG EAST Championship match.
For his career, Davis has posted a 12-9 dual season singles record and an overall singles mark of 33-18. In dual season doubles play, he carries a 43-34 record and an overall mark of 58-48. During his sophomore campaign, Davis teamed with Brett Helgeson ('09) to achieve a career-best No. 13 ITA national doubles ranking. He also has helped the Fighting Irish to NCAA Championship first-round appearances in each of his first two full seasons with Notre Dame.
A two-time team captain, Nicholas steered the nationally-ranked Notre Dame volleyball team to the BIG EAST regular season title in 2010 after sweeping the league slate with a 14-0 record. For her efforts the Gibsonia, Pa., native was named an AVCA All-Northeast Region and first-team all-BIG EAST selection. She also named was the BIG EAST Player of the Week (Oct. 12, 2009) and part of the Xavier Invitational and Notre Dame / adidas Invitational all-tournament teams.
Nicholas is set to participate in Notre Dame's A.C.E. program after graduation.
Notwell is the third Fighting Irish men's cross country/track & field athlete to earn the Top Gun Award, which has been presented since 1993.
A four-year member of the cross country and track teams, Notwell has been a solid contributor for Notre Dame since his arrival on campus. The Upper Arlington, Ohio product has been a part of four BIG EAST championship teams (two indoor, two outdoor), scoring points for the Fighting Irish the past two seasons.
Notwell also etched his name in the Notre Dame record books during his junior and senior campaigns. His 600-meter time of 1:20.76 is seventh-fastest in school history, while his 1,000-meter time of 2:25.16 at the 2009 BIG EAST Indoor Championships is the program's ninth-best time.
Notwell is a computer science major in the College of Engineering.
A full rundown of the award winners from Wednesday night's OSCARS event follows:
2009-10 Byron V. Kanaley Award Recipients
2009-10 Leaders of Distinction Award Recipients
2009-10 Top Gun Award Recipient
2009-10 Chuck Linster Award Recipient
2009-10 Trophy Award Recipient
2009 Team High GPA Award Recipients
2009-10 Rosenthal Leadership Academy Participants
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