July 14, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. - Recent Notre Dame graduates Laura Pearson (Bloomington, Minn.), a member of the Irish rowing team, and women's lacrosse All-American Caitlin McKinney (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) are among the 21 inaugural winners of the 2007-08 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards, which recognize academic and athletic achievement as well as community service.
The Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards are given to one student-athlete in each BIG EAST sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community. Student-athletes who attained junior academic standing and a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 are eligible. The BIG EAST faculty athletic representatives selected the award winners.
Pearson, a tri-captain in '07-'08, rowed with the varsity eight crew for three seasons. She helped guide the varsity eight boat to a national ranking of 18th in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA)/US Rowing poll. Pearson led the varsity eight to their third consecutive gold medal at the BIG EAST Championships. She also helped the varsity eight boat to a second-place finish at the Central/South Region Championships, behind only Ohio State. As a sophomore, Pearson guided the varsity eight boat to a program-best seventh place finish in the NCAA's after capturing the Petite Final in a time of 6:47.54. Pearson graduated from the Mendoza College of Business with a degree in marketing and earned a 3.55 cumulative grade point average.
McKinney closed out her Notre Dame career in '08, finishing second on the team in scoring with 38 goals and 25 assists for 63 points. One of just two three-time All-Americans at Notre Dame and a four-time all-BIG EAST selection, she was named the conference's midfielder of the year and was a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection for the third consecutive season. She finished her career as Notre Dame's all-time assist leader with 80 and is second in points (232) and third in goals (152).
A finalist for the 2008 Tewaaraton Trophy, McKinney is the third first team All-American in program history. Selected to the BIG EAST all-tournament team in 2008, she owns the longest point streak in school history as she scored in 51 consecutive games from April 24, 2005 to April 9, 2008. McKinney was selected as a BIG EAST Aeropostale Scholar-Athlete Award winner for 2007-08 and captured Notre Dame's Francis Patrick O'Connor Award that goes to the senior student-athlete who best exemplifies the true spirit of Notre Dame. She graduated with a double major in sociology and film, television and theatre with a cumulative GPA of 3.521.