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2017 OSCARS Features Champions On And Off The Field

May 4, 2017


By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. —
As another year of high achievement winds down for the University of Notre Dame athletics department, Fighting Irish student-athletes, coaches and administrators gathered to celebrate their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community on Thursday at the 16th annual O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievement & Recognition Showcase) at Purcell Pavilion.

Created by Notre Dame's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and Student Welfare & Development (SWD) office, the O.S.C.A.R.S. showcase the many accomplishments of Notre Dame student-athletes. The red-carpet gala serves to unite all students, administrators, and faculty involved in Fighting Irish athletics.

The ceremony is annually attended by more than 1,500 student-athletes, administrators, faculty and staff. Hundreds of student-athletes, representing all Fighting Irish varsity athletics programs, as well as the athletics department's cheerleaders, student managers and student athletic trainers, participate in the showcase by presenting awards and performing live on stage or in video clips.

For more information on Notre Dame athletics, visit the University's official athletics web site (UND.com), the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv), download the WatchND app, and sign up to follow the Fighting Irish on social media through Twitter (@FightingIrish), Facebook (@FightingIrish), Instagram (@thefightingirish) and Snapchat (@ndirish).

Here's a closer look at the 2016-17 Notre Dame O.S.C.A.R.S. award recipients:

Byron V. Kanaley Award

Perhaps the most prestigious honor awarded to Notre Dame student-athletes is the Byron V. Kanaley Award. Presented since 1926 at commencement exercises, the Kanaley Award goes to the senior monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as students and leaders. The awards, selected by the Faculty Board of Athletics, are named in honor of a 1904 Notre Dame graduate who was a member of the Fighting Irish baseball team as an undergraduate. Kanaley went on to a successful banking career in Chicago and served the University in the Alumni Association and as a lay trustee from 1915 until his death in 1960.

Lee Kiefer (Fencing | Senior | Versailles, Ky.)
Lee Kiefer made Notre Dame, collegiate, and American fencing history this season, becoming the first Irish student-athlete to win four national championships in the same event, and just the third four-time champion in collegiate fencing history. On the national level, she became the first American women’s foilist to earn a No. 1 world ranking by the International Fencing Federation, and became the first American woman to win two Grand Prix gold medals. But on top of her incredible individual success, she helped lead the Irish fencing squad to the ninth national championship in program history in 2017, and the first of her career. After taking a year off to compete at the her second Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, she returned to Notre Dame to earn her second ACC Women’s Fencer of the Year honor (2015, 2017) and was once again named to the All-ACC Academic Team (2015, 2017). As a junior in 2015, she was named a First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American and the ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Kaleigh Olmsted (Women’s Soccer | Senior | The Woodlands, Texas)
A three-year starter for the Irish, Kaleigh Olmsted capped her solid Notre Dame career with a four-goal, five-assist 2016 campaign and was named to the All-ACC First Team, ACC All-Tournament Team and All-ACC Academic Team. A first-time captain in 2016, Olmsted made her presence felt beyond the stat sheet, with the capacity to float between forward and midfield and frustrate opponents with her crafty one-on-one abilities. A two-time participant in Notre Dame's Rosenthal Leadership Academy and a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Olmsted has also been active in the community, most recently working on her own fundraiser benefitting the National Eating Disorders Association called NoBody Is Perfect.

Sergio Perkovic (Men’s Lacrosse | Senior | Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
Sergio Perkovic has started all 56 games during his career at Notre Dame. Earlier this season the senior became the seventh player in program history to reach the 100-goal milestone. Perkovic currently has 110 goals in his career, which represent the most ever by a Notre Dame midfielder. Perkovic is also a Tewaaraton Award nominee, Senior CLASS Award finalist, two-time All-American, three-time All-ACC Team selection and a 2017 Weaver-James-Corrigan Award recipient.

Monica Robinson (Women’s Tennis | Senior | Valley Center, Calif.)
Monica Robinson has won in 132 combined singles and doubles matches in her four years at Notre Dame, including a 73-43 record in singles. She has ranked as high as No. 10 nationally in doubles, qualifying for the 2015 NCAA Doubles Championship while being named to the All-ACC Third Team that same season. In 2017, she was honored as an All-ACC Second Team selection. Robinson was also a Rosenthal Leadership Academy participant and held one of three tri-captain spots in 2016-17.

Francis Patrick O'Connor Award

In 1993, the University of Notre Dame began presenting the annual Francis Patrick O'Connor Award, named in honor of a former Notre Dame wrestler who died in 1973 following his freshman year at Notre Dame. He was the son of Jane and William "Bucky" O'Connor (he played football at Notre Dame in 1942, '46 and '47) from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The award is presented, upon nomination by their head coaches, to the student-athlete who best displays the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions and inspiration to their teams. Among the qualities considered in nominating individuals - as attributed to Pat O'Connor - are caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, humor, honesty, kindness and patience.

Lindsay Allen (Women’s Basketball | Senior | Mitchellville, Md.)
Allen set both Notre Dame and ACC records as a senior for single-season (282) and career (841) assists. She guided the Irish to a fourth consecutive ACC regular season title and a fourth straight ACC Tournament championship, earning MVP honors at the ACC Tournament with her event-record 33 assists. The three-time Nancy Lieberman Award finalist did not miss a single start in her 149-game Irish career, during which time she led the team to a 139-10 record. A two-year team captain, Allen commanded the full respect of her teammates whom consistently called her the "GOAT" as they emulated her drive, work ethic, maturity and professionalism as an on-court extension of the coaching staff. Following the season, she was the 14th overall pick in the WNBA Draft, selected by the New York Liberty.

Eva Niklinska (Fencing | Senior | Granger, Ind.)
Eva Niklinska is a four-year starter and monogram recipient as an epeeist on the Notre Dame women's fencing squad and has been an instrumental leader by example almost since her first day on campus. Since her freshman season, she has served as the team’s community service coordinator, has exhibited outstanding leadership qualities, and has excelled in the classroom, all qualities which led to her captainship during the 2016-17 season, during which the Irish fencing team won its ninth NCAA team title. She has been a four-year participate in Student Government, most recently serving as the Director of Academic Affairs; a three-year Student-Athlete Advisory Council member; and a member of the College of Science Academic Council, Honesty Committee and Committee on the Academic Code of Honor. With plans to head to medical school in 2017, she has assembled a 4.00 cumulative GPA to go along with myriad research credits. She also has national and international volunteer experience to her credit, most notably her own HandwrittenHearts organization, which she founded in 2011 and delivers handwritten letters and season gifts to patients in the oncology and renal wards at the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Cal Petersen (Hockey | Junior | Waterloo, Iowa)
As a junior captain in 2016-17, Cal Petersen led the Irish to their third Frozen Four appearance in program history. One of five finalists for the 2017 Mike Richter Award, Petersen was selected to the NCAA Northeast Regional All-Tournament team after posting wins over Minnesota and UMass Lowell. He is currently with Team USA at the 2017 IIHF WorLd Championship, which is being played in Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. Petersen finished the season with a 23-12-5 record to go along with a 2.22 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and six shutouts. His save percentage ranked third in Hockey East and 11th nationally, while his six shutouts tied for the NCAA lead. Petersen's 2016-17 numbers were compiled against a tough schedule that included 18 games against top-20 offenses (teams who finished the season ranked in the top-20 nationally in goals per game). Petersen has started 90-consecutive games in goal for the Irish, the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. He ranks first in career save percentage (.924) at Notre Dame, second in minutes played (6498:02), third in saves (3,042) and goals against average (2.30), tied for third in victories (55) as well as fourth in shutouts (11) and games played (110).

Monica Robinson (Women’s Tennis | Senior | Valley Center, Calif.)
Monica Robinson is a four-year starter and monogram winner for the Irish, winning over 130 combined singles and doubles matches in her four years at Notre Dame. Since her freshman season, she has steadily worked her way up the lineup until reaching the top singles and doubles spots this season, working through injuries and adversity along the way. She has ranked as high as No. 10 nationally in doubles, qualifying for the 2015 NCAA Doubles Championship while being named to the All-ACC Third Team that same season. In 2017, she was honored as an All-ACC Second Team selection. Robinson was also a Rosenthal Leadership Academy participant and held one of three tri-captain spots in 2016-17. She has served as a Vice President of Pangborn Hall; is a Dream Team member with Madison Elementary School; is active with Fighting Irish Fight For Life and the women’s tennis teammate, Sophia; and has self-published her own children’s book for her Spanish minor.

Steve Vasturia (Men’s Basketball | Senior | Medford, N.J.)
Steve Vasturia capped his career with the Irish as one of just two Notre Dame men’s basketball players to score 1,400 points, dish out 300 assists and shoot 85 percent from the free throw line, joining Chris Thomas. In 2016-17, he set the program single-season record for free throw percentage (91-100, .910) and finished second on the career free throw percentage list (.853). He ranks second in Notre Dame history in games play (137) and third in consecutive starts (117). Just this season he was named to the ACC All-Tournament Team, which he also made in 2015; was an All-ACC Honorable Mention pick; was a Jerry West Award Finalist; earned the Notre Dame Captain Award; was named to the Legends Classic All-Tournament Team; and earned a spot at the Reese’s College All-Star Game. Vasturia was the 2015 and 2016 Notre Dame Defensive Player of the Year and the 2014 team Newcomer of the Year. He will graduate with a degree in management consulting from the Mendoza College of Business.

Karley Wester (Softball | Senior | Huntington Beach, Calif.)
A second straight softball player named as a Francis Patrick O'Connor Award recipient (Megan Sorlie in 2016), Karley Wester winds down her senior campaign as arguably the most accomplished player to ever suit up for Notre Dame. A two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American (2014 & 2016), USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist (2015 & 2016), and the 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year and NFCA National Freshman of the Year Top 3 finalist, Wester is just the eighth two-time captain in Irish softball history (serving as the sixth solo captain in 2017). She became the Notre Dame softball career leader in hits and runs scored earlier in the 2017 season, and has stolen more bases than any baseball/softball player to ever don an Irish uniform. Wester is the active NCAA Division I softball career hits leader with more than 310 base knocks entering the regular season's final week, and remains among the top five DI players with over 220 runs scored and 125 stolen bases.

Community Champion Award

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 University President Father John Jenkins puts 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.

Kiley Adams (Women’s Soccer | Senior | Edgewood, Wash.)
A native of Edgewood, Washington, Kiley Adams joined the Irish as a sophomore after playing two seasons with the Notre Dame women’s soccer club team. A goalkeeper for the Irish, her interests range far beyond the soccer field. She is a fourth degree black belt in Taekwondo, is involved in several advanced research initiatives and has been an advocate for environmental issues, as well. She was a researcher and volunteer at the Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital Children’s Therapy Unit from 2009-15, a TOPsoccer “buddy” coach for kids with special needs from 2011-14, an early intervention special educator at Vidya Saga in Chennai, India during the summers of 2015 and 2016, a NICU and pediatric therapy volunteer at the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and a member of the Washington Trails Association, a hiking group that advocates for environmental issues. She is a Sorin Scholar, an elite research group funded by Notre Dame’s Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), and has also worked as an undergraduate researcher in Notre Dame’s Language Lab, conducting research on spoken language production and comprehension in adults. She will graduate this month with a degree in biological sciences.

Anders Bjork (Hockey | Junior | Mequon, Wis.)
Anders Bjork posted a career-high 52 points on 21 goals and 31 assists in 2016-17. He was named a Second Team East CCM/AHCA All-American and earned First Team Hockey East All-Star honors. Bjork, who spends a lot of time volunteering at the nearby Perley Fine Arts Academy became the second player in NCAA hockey history to be a Hobey Baker Top-10 Finalist and a Hockey Humanitarian award finalist in the same season. He is currently with teammate Cal Petersen and Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, which is being played in Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. Bjork skated in 39 games in 2016-17 and his 52 points tied for fourth in Hockey East and tied for ninth in the country. He had six game-winning goals, which tied for fifth in the country. The Irish were 22-5-2 in 2016-17 when he registered at least one point and 11-3-0 when he scored at least one goal. He posted 16 multi-point games this season, including four-point efforts against Arizona State (Oct. 8) and UConn (Oct. 28). Following his five-point performance during the 2017 NCAA Northeast Regional in which the Irish defeated No. 1 seed Minnesota and UMass Lowell on consecutive nights, he was named the NCAA Northeast Regional Most Outstanding Player. Skating in 115 career games, Bjork has scored 40 goals and added 69 assists for 109 points, which ranks tied for 42nd on Notre Dame's career points list. He notched his 100th point with an assist versus Providence (Feb. 18), becoming the 51st player in program history to reach 100 career points and the first junior to do so since T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee in 2013.

Dana Bouquet (Softball | Senior | Santa Maria, Calif.)
Dana Bouquet is the third straight Notre Dame softball player to earn Community Champion accolades, following in the footsteps of the award's only two-time winner and former teammate Casey Africano (2015 & 2016 Notre Dame Community Champion). Bouquet is a three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll recipient, and has been a pivotal member of Irish softball's sweep of The Trophy Award during her four-year Irish career. Along with all Notre Dame softball's community service initiatives, including the annual Strikeout Cancer event that has helped raise in excess of $200,000 to directly benefit pediatric cancer patients, Bouquet traveled to the Dominican Republic over her 2016 fall break for a service trip at a local school and orphanage.

Jane Fennelly (Women’s Tennis | Senior | Rathmines, Ireland)
Jane Fennelly has been a solid contributor to the Irish lineup since arriving on campus, most notably in doubles where she has amassed a 47-33 record. She has also been an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council — on which she has served as the Chair of Community Service — and the Rosenthal Leadership Academy, as well as a team captain for the first time this season. To her credit are many hours volunteering with Fighting Irish Fight For Life, Habitat for Humanity, This Counts, South Bend Center for the Homeless, Dream Team, Perley Elementary, Bingo Night at Creekside Village Nursing Home, Notre Dame tennis clinics and the Growth Learning Center. As the SAAC Community Service Chair, she has helped improve student-athlete involvement with the South Bend community, liaising with members of local hospitals, elementary schools and the South Bend Center for the Homeless. Additionally, she is a public relations manager for “Love Your Melon,” a non-profit that sells apparel to raise money for cancer research, as well as a board member of One Shirt, One Body, which collects extra clothing from student-athletes to donate to underprivileged members of the community.

Tyler Newsome (Football | Junior | Carrollton, Ga.)
Tyler Newsome is the first Irish football player to earn Community Champion accolades since Mike Golic Jr. in 2013. A two-year monogram winner and two-year starting punter, Newsome ranks second in school history with a career average of 44.0 yards per punt. He also holds the Notre Dame single-game record for punting average (minimum five punts) -- 52.4 yards per punt vs. UMass in 2015 (seven punts for 263 yards). While Newsome enters his senior season as one of the nation's top punters, it's his efforts and commitment to the community that should garner the most attention. Newsome has led the Notre Dame football team in community service hours each of the last two seasons, including 2016-17 where he’s logged almost twice as many “official” hours as the next player. He captured the Irish Around the Bend Award at the 2016 Echoes, an award given to the Irish football player that bests serves the community. Newsome received the ACC’s Top Six for Service Award in 2016. The accolade is presented annually to six student-athletes from each conference institution who show outstanding dedication to community service and outreach programs. He has volunteered with the following football community events: Football 101, Roofsit 2016, Lift for Life, Chicago Backpack Donation, Football Service Friday, Make-A-Wish, Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Halloween Party, St. Mary's Kids Christmas, Shop-With-A-Player and Center for Homeless. Newsome also extended his time to the following projects, independent of the Irish football team: Boys and Girls Club, International Dot Day, Perley Elementary, Child & Parent Services (CAPS), Dream Teams, Tarkington Elementary and local hospitals as well as hospitals near his hometown of Carrollton, Georgia. Most recently, Newsome was heavily involved with The Bald and the Beautiful. It’s the largest student-run philanthropy event at Notre Dame. The program helps raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. To date, the club has raised over $259,000 for pediatric cancer research.

Trophy Award

The Trophy Award was established in 2006 to recognize the team who has demonstrated a commitment to community through its unparalleled service to Notre Dame, as well as South Bend as the surrounding communities. The Trophy Award is sponsored by the Notre Dame Monogram Club and the Notre Dame Alumni Association.

Softball
This marks the sixth time in seven years the Notre Dame softball team has claimed the Trophy Award in recognition of exemplary team community service, including five straight academic years dating back to 2013. Irish softball has become a mainstay for this honor due to the program's ever-growing Strikeout Cancer initiative that is held each April. Through proceeds from the annual Strikeout Cancer series and trivia night, Notre Dame softball has raised more than $200,000 to directly benefit pediatric cancer patients since 2011.

Monogram Club Post-Graduate Scholarship

Evan Panken (Men's Soccer | Graduate Student | Edina, Minnesota)
Panken is the second straight Notre Dame men's soccer player to earn a Monogram Club Postgraduate Scholarship, following former teammate Brian Talcott as a recipient in 2016. Panken was also recently recognized as an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship honoree, and was one of the men's soccer team's Rockne Student-Athlete Award tri-winners from this past academic year. He became the first Notre Dame men’s soccer player selected to the ACC All-Academic Team in each of his four seasons in the league, adding to an all-ACC third team performance in 2016. Panken graduated with a degree in pre-professional studies and Spanish from the College of Science in the spring of 2016, and has been accepted into medical school at Northwestern University.

Eva Niklinska (Fencing | Senior | Granger, Ind.)
Eva Niklinska is a four-year starter and monogram recipient as an epeeist on the Notre Dame women's fencing squad and has been an instrumental leader by example almost since her first day on campus. Since her freshman season, she has served as the team’s community service coordinator, has exhibited outstanding leadership qualities, and has excelled in the classroom, all qualities which led to her captainship during the 2016-17 season, during which the Irish fencing team won its ninth NCAA team title. She has been a four-year participate in Student Government, most recently serving as the Director of Academic Affairs; a three-year Student-Athlete Advisory Council member; and a member of the College of Science Academic Council, Honesty Committee and Committee on the Academic Code of Honor. With plans to head to medical school in 2017, she has assembled a 4.00 cumulative GPA to go along with myriad research credits. She also has national and international volunteer experience to her credit, most notably her own HandwrittenHearts organization, which she founded in 2011 and delivers handwritten letters and season gifts to patients in the oncology and renal wards at the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Top Gun Award

The Top Gun Award is given annually to the Notre Dame graduating senior student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average and who has competed on a Fighting Irish intercollegiate team for at least three years.

Eva Niklinska (Fencing | Senior | Granger, Ind.)
Eva Niklinska is a four-year starter and monogram recipient as an epeeist on the Notre Dame women's fencing squad and has been an instrumental leader by example almost since her first day on campus. Since her freshman season, she has served as the team’s community service coordinator, has exhibited outstanding leadership qualities, and has excelled in the classroom, all qualities which led to her captainship during the 2016-17 season, during which the Irish fencing team won its ninth NCAA team title. She has been a four-year participate in Student Government, most recently serving as the Director of Academic Affairs; a three-year Student-Athlete Advisory Council member; and a member of the College of Science Academic Council, Honesty Committee and Committee on the Academic Code of Honor. With plans to head to medical school in 2017, she has assembled a 4.00 cumulative GPA to go along with myriad research credits. She also has national and international volunteer experience to her credit, most notably her own HandwrittenHearts organization, which she founded in 2011 and delivers handwritten letters and season gifts to patients in the oncology and renal wards at the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Chuck Linster Award

The Chuck Linster Award is given annually to a senior member of Notre Dame's cheerleading, student manager or student athletic trainers programs who has the highest grade-point average. For 44 years, Chuck Linster was a member of the Notre Dame athletics department as a team photographer, and his contribution reflects his invaluable service and commitment to excellence. Linster's contributions behind the scenes were invaluable as are those of the University's cheerleaders, managers and athletic trainers.

Daniel Brndjar (Men’s Basketball Manager | Senior)
A four-year manager for men’s basketball, Daniel Brndjar posted a 3.971 cumulative GPA with a double major in theology and applied computational math and statistics. He was the top senior manager in 2016-17 and helped the student manager basketball team go 9-1 during the season, ranking has high as ninth in the country.

Team GPA Award

This award is presented annually to the Notre Dame varsity athletics programs that register the highest combined grade-point average during each of the preceding two semesters, as well as overall during that two-semester span.

Men’s Soccer
The men’s soccer program led the athletic department with the highest average GPA over the last two semesters, posting a cumulative 3.496 mark.

--ND--

Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master's degree from Georgetown University in 2013.

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