June 22, 2012
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The BIG EAST Conference on Friday announced the 24 winners of the 2011-12 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards, which recognize academic and athletic achievement as well as community service, and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins (women's basketball), Becca Huffer (women's golf), Shannon Mathews (women's tennis), Blas Moros (men's tennis) and Kevin Randall (men's lacrosse) all garnered the honor.
The Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards are given to one student-athlete in each BIG EAST-sponsored sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community. Student-athletes who have attained junior academic standing and a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 are eligible. The winners are chosen by the BIG EAST Faculty Athletics Representative Council.
The five honorees matched the most ever for Notre Dame and it ranked second among all BIG EAST schools for the 2011-12 academic year. Louisville had seven recipients.
Skylar Diggins - Women's Basketball
Junior Guard South Bend, Ind./Washington H.S.
Diggins was a consensus first-team All-America selection and a finalist for every major national player-of-the-year award in 2011-12, taking home the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation's top point guard. She also was chosen as the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year (the third Notre Dame player to be so honored and the first since 2005) and was a unanimous first-team all-conference selection for the second consecutive year.
This past season, Diggins became the first Fighting Irish player and just the fourth NCAA Division I player in the past decade (since 2001-02) to register 600 points, 200 assists and 100 steals in a single season. She also was the only BIG EAST player to rank among the top five in the conference in three of the five major statistical categories, leading the BIG EAST in both assists (5.7 apg. - 16th in nation) and steals (2.6 spg. - 55th in nation; school-record 102 steals overall), while placing fourth in scoring (16.8 ppg. - 70th in nation) and adding a conference-best 2.16 assist-turnover ratio (10th in nation) for good measure. What's more, Diggins wrapped up this past year's BIG EAST regular season statistical titles in assists (5.8 apg.), steals (2.6 spg.), and assist-turnover ratio (2.3).
Off the court, she has been a leader in the community through her involvement with the Notre Dame women's basketball program's unique "Heart of the Irish" service initiative that raised more than $300,000 in donations for various charities in the South Bend area. A management-entrepreneurship major in Notre Dame's top-ranked Mendoza College of Business, Diggins also earned a citation of merit from Notre Dame's Rosenthal Leadership Academy during the 2011-12 academic year, and has been named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team the past two years (with the 2011-12 selections still to be announced).
Becca Huffer - Women's Golf
Senior Denver, Colo./Littleton H.S.
Huffer closed out her Notre Dame women's golf career by leading the Irish to their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Central Regionals in May. She led the team with a 75.34 stroke average this season and closed her career with a 75.19 career mark, the lowest average for any Irish golfer to play over 100 career rounds. During the 2011-12 campaign, she won her first career tournament, winning the Hoosier Fall Invitational by three strokes at famed Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. During her career, she turned in 12 top-10 finishes and 28 top-25 finishes while 123 of her 129 career rounds (95.3%) counted towards team scoring.
Huffer became just the third Notre Dame women's golfer and the third women's golfer in the BIG EAST to be named all-BIG EAST in all four seasons of competition. A two-time Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player (2010, 2012), Huffer served as team captain as a senior and helped the Irish to a second-place team finish at the BIG EAST Championship by turning in a fifth-place finish.
Selected to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team in four consecutive seasons, the Denver, Colo., native finished her Notre Dame career with a 3.54 grade-point average in industrial design. She was the winner of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley's Rockne Student-Athlete Award in 2012. In her major, she won the prestigious Radwan and Allan Riley Prize for her design thesis. She was one of five team members that helped the Notre Dame women's golf team turn in three consecutive record-setting team grade-point averages over the last three semesters. The women's golf team combined for a 3.776 GPA in the spring of 2012.
Off the course, Huffer was involved in the women's golf teams community service efforts throughout her career. During her Irish career, she participated in Notre Dame's Dream Teams Program, working as a mentor to local elementary school children at Warren, Lincoln and McKinley Primary Schools since her freshman year. Huffer, along with her teammates visited the Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz., while the Irish were hosting the Clover Cup Tournament in March.
Shannon Mathews - Women's Tennis
Senior Birmingham, Mich./Cranbrook-Kingswood H.S.
Mathews became the 15th All-American in program history this season after qualifying for the NCAA Doubles Championship as a No. 5-8 seed along with partner Kristy Frilling. The 2012 BIG EAST Player of the Year, Mathews finished the season with a 21-10 record in singles with five victories over ranked opponents and 31-10 in doubles with 12 wins over ranked foes, while climbing to career-high rankings of 32nd in the ITA singles poll and first in doubles.
For her career, Mathews ranks 18th in singles victories with 94 and eighth in doubles victories with 108. A four-time selection to the all-BIG EAST team and '11 BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player, Mathews' 202 combined singles and doubles victories places her 10th on the all-time list.
Off the court, Mathews has been tabbed an ITA Scholar-Athlete on three occasions and a BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team member four times. She graduated from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in finance and computer applications while carrying a 3.483 cumulative GPA. Mathews also took part in the Notre Dame Pediatric Christmas Party during her junior and senior years and assisted with the Special Olympics in '10.
Blas Moros - Men's Tennis
Junior Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest H.S.
Moros posted a 26-12 record in 2012, including a 20-6 mark in dual matches. He helped the Fighting Irish to a third-place finish at the 2012 BIG EAST Championship and a second-round appearance in the NCAA Championship.
Moros also has excelled in the classroom as he boasts a 3.521 cumulative GPA. He is part of Notre Dame's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Rosenthal Leadership Academy.
Among his community service projects, Moros has participated in the Notre Dame Pediatric Christmas Party for pediatric patients in the South Bend area and the Michiana Walk for Downs Syndrome. He also volunteered his time on multiple occasions to speak at a local elementary school on various topics, including goal setting, overcoming adversity, getting out of your comfort zone and other character development and life skills. Moros has taken part in numerous tennis clinics for the local community.
Kevin Randall - Men's Lacrosse
Senior Defenseman Penfield, N.Y./Penfield H.S.
Randall copped first-team All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) this season along with being named to the USILA Scholar All-America Team. He was selected as the 2012 BIG EAST Defenseman of the Year in addition to earning unanimous first-team all-league accolades.
He was a key reason why the Notre Dame defense finished the season ranked first nationally by allowing just 6.31 goals per game. The Fighting Irish also boasted the nation's top man-down defense (.892). Notre Dame was a national semifinalist and concluded the 2012 campaign with a 13-3 record and ranked third in the final Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll. The Charlotte Hounds selected Randall during January's Major League Lacrosse draft.
Randall, an Irish team captain, graduated in May with a degree in civil engineering from Notre Dame's College of Engineering. He finished with a final cumulative GPA of 3.561. Randall was a finalist for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award as he excelled not only on the field, but also in the classroom and community. Randall copped multiple selections to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star Team and he and the rest of his Fighting Irish teammates were involved with numerous community service projects in the South Bend/Notre Dame area.
Randall participated in Notre Dame's Playing for Peace rally, which was held to help promote awareness for lasting peace in Sudan. He mentored local youths weekly while participating in the Irish Experience League and at St. Augustine's Parish in South Bend. He also worked with struggling students at Jefferson Intermediate School in South Bend.