Denzel Valentine named Alderton Male Athlete of the Year;
Aerial Powers named Alderton Female Athlete of the Year.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Five Michigan State University student-athletes have been recognized for excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom, earning the school’s highest athletic awards for 2015-16.
The awards include the George Alderton Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Big Ten Conference Medals of Honor, Chester Brewer Leadership Award and Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award. A panel of administrators and coaches selected the winners.
Men’s basketball senior Denzel Valentine (Lansing, Michigan) was named the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year, while redshirt junior forward Aerial Powers (Detroit, Michigan) of the women’s basketball team earned George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year honors.
A six-time National Player of the Year, Valentine was a consensus First-Team All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament. He became the only player in NCAA history to average 19 points (19.2 ppg), seven rebounds (7.5 rpg) and seven assists (7.8 apg) since the assist became an official statistic in 1983-84. He ranked fourth in the nation in assists (7.8 apg), eighth in 3-point field goals per game (3.35) and 11th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.444).
Powers earned third-team Associated Press All-America honors. She set a single-season scoring record with 697 points, including a career-high 40 points against Minnesota, en route to becoming MSU’s all-time leading scorer with 1,817 points in just three seasons.
Senior center Jack Allen (Hinsdale, Illinois) and senior gymnast Lisa Burt (Port Orange, Florida) were named Michigan State’s recipients for the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor. The Big Ten Conference’s most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”
Allen was also named the recipient of the Chester Brewer Leadership Award.
Women’s soccer senior Sarah Kovan (Okemos, Michigan) captured the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award.
AWARD – WINNER
George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year – Denzel Valentine (basketball)
George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year – Aerial Powers (basketball)
Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Male) – Jack Allen (football)
Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Female) – Lisa Burt (gymnastics)
Chester Brewer Leadership Award – Jack Allen (football)
Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award – Sarah Kovan (soccer)
GEORGE ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
(Presented to top male athlete of 2015-16)
WINNER: Denzel Valentine (basketball)
Denzel Valentine’s 2015-16 season was the most decorated individual campaign in Michigan State basketball history as the senior guard collected six National Player of the Year awards.
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Valentine averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists in becoming the only player in NCAA history to average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists since the assist became an official statistic in 1983-84. He is the first player to lead the Big Ten in overall scoring and assists since Iowa’s Andre Woolridge in 1997. He ranked fourth in the nation in assists (7.8 apg), eighth in 3-point field goals per game (3.35) and 11th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.444).
A consensus First-Team All-American, Valentine was named National Player of the Year by the Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Basketball Times, Sports Illustrated, USA TODAY Sports and NBC Sports. He was the recipient of both the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award as presented by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and the Senior CLASS Award. Valentine became the eighth Spartan to be named Big Ten Player of the Year, and was a unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten selection. He led the Spartans to the 2016 Big Ten Tournament Championship and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament after averaging 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the three games.
“Growing up in Lansing, the son of a Spartan basketball player, I always dreamed of playing at Michigan State,” said Valentine. “Wearing the Green and White was a dream come true. Before stepping on campus I was well aware of the great history, both of the basketball program and across the athletic department. Every time I stepped on the court, I just tried to live up to the lofty standards of those who played before me. To join the distinguished list of previous Alderton winners is humbling.
“One of the best things about Michigan State is being surrounded by so many amazing athletes – both men and women. There are so many people that are worthy of this honor. I’d like to congratulate Aerial on being voted the top female athlete. She had an amazing season, and is already living her dream in the WNBA. And congrats to all the other winners and nominees. I draw motivation from watching them all chase greatness.”
His senior season began on a strong note, posting his first career triple-double in the second game of the season with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists against No. 4 Kansas. Nine days later, he posted another triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Boston College. Valentine led the Big Ten with 12 double-doubles. In games which he started, Valentine made or assisted on 50.9 percent of Michigan State’s field goals. His 241 assists rank as the third-best single-season total at MSU and the most by a Spartan senior, while his 104 made 3-pointers are the fourth-best single-season total. His 19.2 ppg scoring average is the best at Michigan State since Maurice Ager averaged 19.3 in 2005-06. He led MSU in scoring in 18 games, in rebounds in 12 games and in assists in 27 games (including the final 18 contests), leading in all three categories in six games.
“Denzel gets credit for being a multi-dimensional player, and rightly so,” explained coach Tom Izzo. “But it’s appropriate that he win the Alderton Award because he’s multi-dimensional in his love for Michigan State University and our athletic department. It was not unusual to see him at another sporting event supporting many of our other great teams. This is an award that will mean a lot to Denzel.
“Through hard work, Denzel made himself the complete package. He’s a self-made player that has been willing to put in the time in the gym. As a result he’s improved every season, and I expect him to continue to get even better as he moves on to the NBA.”
Valentine finished his career with 1,645 points, 856 rebounds and 639 assists, becoming the first player in Big Ten history to record 1,300 points, 700 rebounds and 500 assists. In MSU history, he ranks third in career assists (639), third in career games played (144), fourth in career 3-point field goals made (265) and attempted (650), ninth in career rebounds (856), tied for ninth in career games started (117) and 11th in career scoring (1,645). He is the only player in Michigan State history to rank in the career Top 10 in both assists and rebounds.
Valentine is the seventh different Spartan basketball player (eight total honors) to be named the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year and the first since Draymond Green in 2012.
PAST WINNERS – ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
2015 – Jake Hildebrand (hockey); 2014-Darqueze Dennard (football); 2013-Le’Veon Bell (football); 2012-Draymond Green (basketball); 2011-Greg Jones (football); 2010-Greg Jones (football); 2009-Franklin Gomez (wrestling); 2008-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2007-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2006-Brad Gebauer (track and field); 2005-Nick Simmons (wrestling); 2004-Jeff Smoker (football); 2003-Charles Rogers (football); 2002-Paul Terek (track and field); 2001-Ryan Miller (hockey); 2000-Mateen Cleaves (basketball); 1999-Mateen Cleaves (basketball) and Mike York (hockey); 1998-Chad Alban (hockey); 1997-Reid Friedrichs (soccer); 1996-David Morgan (wrestling); 1995-Shawn Respert (basketball); 1994-Emilio Collins (wrestling); 1993-Bryan Smolinski (hockey); 1992-Anthony Hamm (cross country/track and field); 1991-Steve Smith (basketball); 1990-Kip Miller (hockey) and Percy Snow (football); 1989-Bobby Reynolds (hockey); 1988-Todd Krumm (football/baseball); 1987-Don McSween (hockey); 1986-Mike Donnelly (hockey), Lorenzo White (football), Scott Skiles (basketball); 1985-Sam Vincent (basketball); 1984-Carl Banks (football); 1983-Ron Scott (hockey); 1982-Ron Scott (hockey).
GEORGE ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
(Presented to top female athlete of 2015-16)
WINNER: Aerial Powers (basketball)
During her three seasons at Michigan State, junior Aerial Powers has re-written the Spartan women’s basketball record book.
Powers became the first Spartan women’s basketball player to earn third-team Associated Press All-America honors during the 2015-16 campaign, along with garnering honorable mention WBCA All-America honors. She also earned honorable mention All-America accolades following her sophomore season. She was also the first Spartan to be named First-Team All-Big Ten three times.
“I am so honored to receive this award,” said Powers. “My time at Michigan State was amazing and a great experience. I would like to thank Coach Merchant, all the of the basketball coaches, my teammates and my family for their help in making me the player that I have become. As I move on to the next stage of my life, I will always be proud to be a Spartan.”
The Detroit, Michigan, native had another record-setting season in 2015-16, becoming the MSU career scoring leader with 1,817 career points, passing Shimek’s 1,780 points from 2002-06. Powers also passed her own single-season scoring record with 697 points this season, topping her 678 points last year. Additionally, Powers is the current MSU record holder for career points per game at 18.9. She also ended her career with 937 rebounds, passing Kris Emerson (933 rebounds; 1983-87) for No. 4 on the Spartans’ career rebounds list.
In the Spartans’ thrilling, 114-106 win against Minnesota this season, Powers scored a career-high 40 points, which was the second-highest single-game total in MSU history behind Maxann Reese’s 41-point effort in 1999. Powers also set the school record with 47 career double-doubles, including 13 in 2015-16.
“Aerial Powers was a one-of-a-kind athlete, elevating the Michigan State women’s basketball program,” said coach Suzy Merchant. “Being named the George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year is a testament to her passion and love for the game of basketball. She follows in the footsteps of some amazing Spartan women. We are blessed to have been a part of her journey, and we’re proud of her earning this honor. She is one of only three women’s basketball players in MSU history to receive this award and we couldn’t be happier for her.”
The forward became the sixth Spartan selected in the WNBA draft, and the first since Liz Shimek in 2006, when she was picked by the Dallas Wings in April. She became the highest Spartan ever drafted with the fifth pick, as Spartan-great Kristin Haynie was previously the highest Michigan State player drafted as the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft. Maxann Reese and Kristen Rasmussen were the first Spartans selected in the 2000 WNBA Draft.
Powers is the third Spartan basketball player to be named the George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year joining Kristin Haynie (2005) and Liz Shimek (2006).
PAST WINNERS – ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
2015-Leah O’Connor (cross country/track & field); 2014-Allyssa Ferrell (golf); 2013-Caroline Powers (golf) and Beth Rohl (track and field); 2012-Laura Heyboer (soccer) and Caroline Powers (golf); 2011-Emily MacLeod (cross country/track) and Caroline Powers (golf); 2010-Floor Rijpma (field hockey); 2009-Nicole Bush (cross country/track & field); 2008-Sara Brown (golf); 2007-Sara Brown (golf); 2006-Liz Shimek (basketball); 2005-Kristin Haynie (basketball); 2004-Jamie Krzyminski (cross country/track & field); 2003-Michelle Carson (cross country) and Jamie Krzyminski (cross country/track & field); 2002-Emily Bastel (golf); 2001-Summer Mitchell (swimming & diving); 2000-Emily Bastel (golf); 1999-Carrie Carpenter (softball); 1998-Jill Lusher (field hockey); 1997-Sevatheda Fynes (track & field); 1996-Val Sterk (volleyball); 1995-Karen Winslow (soccer); 1994-Susan Francis (track & field); 1993-Jodi Blotcher (gymnastics); 1992-Misty Allison (cross country/track & field); 1991-Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse (swimming & diving); 1990-Julie Farrell (swimming & diving); 1989-Julie Farrell (swimming & diving); 1988-Michelle Ingalls (gymnastics); 1987-Odessa Smalls (track & field); 1986-Mary Schoenle (swimming & diving); 1985-Kelly Becker (volleyball); 1984-Deanne Moore (softball); 1983-Judi Brown (track & field); 1982-Molly Brennan (track & field).
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR
(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
FEMALE WINNER: Lisa Burt (gymnastics)
Voted team MVP in both 2015 and 2016, senior Lisa Burt graduated with the highest accumulated point total in Spartan gymnastics history.
The two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection concluded her collegiate career as a two-time All-Big Ten performer, participating in the postseason three times in her career. She made the regional field as an individual in 2013 (freshman) and 2014 (sophomore). In 2015, the Spartans qualified as a team, but Burt missed the competition with injury. She was seventh in the All-Around with a 39.200 in 2014 at the Baton Rouge regional, and was fourth at the Athens regional this season (39.275) and finished 34th overall at the NCAA meet.
“I’m very honored to have won this prestigious award,” said Burt. “I am so grateful for this University and all that it has given me both academically and athletically. I am proud to represent our gymnastics program, but none of this would be possible without our coaching staff and my teammates. I have received amazing support throughout my time at MSU, and I am so thankful for everyone who was a part of my Michigan State experience.”
“We are so thrilled that Lisa has won the Conference Medal of Honor,” said head coach Kathie Klages, who just completed her 25th season at the helm. “She not only had a superb athletic career which helped raise the national level of our program; but also has performed in the classroom with excellent academics. We are honored to have her represent the gymnastics program at Michigan State with this prestigious award.”
The Port Orange, Florida, native was a four-year All-Around competitor for the Spartans, and made MSU’s first NCAA Championship appearance since 2010, becoming the 15th individual to compete at Nationals for the Spartans. As a senior, Burt compiled 26 top-three finishes in 2016, and a total of 85 in her career. She finished in the top three All-Around seven times in her final campaign, and eight times on bars.
Burt is the fourth recipient of the Conference Medal of Honor from the gymnastics program, joining Kimberly Hartwick (1988), Ruth Aguayo (1993), and Kristen Coleman (2007).
PAST WINNERS – BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR FEMALE WINNERS:
2015-Abby Barker (field hockey); 2014-Kristen Henn (field hockey); 2013-Caroline Powers (golf); 2012-Jenilee Rathje (volleyball); 2011-Aimee Neff (golf); 2010-Allyssa DeHaan (basketball); 2009-Sara Schmidt (rowing); 2008-Kate Burdick (rowing); 2007-Kristen Coleman (gymnastics); 2006-Liz Shimek (basketball); 2005-Veerle Goudswaard (field hockey); 2004-Michelle Carson (cross country/track & field); 2003-Stephanie Anisko (swimming & diving); 2002-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving) and Krista Buzzell (crew); 2001-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving); 2000-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving); 1999-Carrie Carpenter (softball); 1998-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1997-Val Sterk (volleyball); 1996-Patti Raduenz (softball); 1995-Laura Bell (cross country/track & field); 1994-Laura Bell (cross country/track & field); 1993-Ruth Aguayo (gymnastics); 1992-Misty Allison (cross country/track & field); 1991-Emily Coatney (soccer); 1990-Eileen Shea (basketball); 1989-Mary Schoenle (swimming & diving); 1988-Kim Hartwick (gymnastics); 1987-Lisa Marino (golf); 1986-Julie Polakowski (basketball); 1985-Kelly Belanger (basketball); 1984-Anne Pewe (cross country/track & field); 1983-Karen Wells (basketball); 1982-Lisa Speaker (golf).
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR
(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
MALE WINNER: Jack Allen (football)
CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD
(Presented to a graduating senior in his or her last year of eligibility for distinguished performance in athletics and scholarship and for possessing a high degree of leadership qualities and skill.)
WINNER: Jack Allen (Football)
One of the most decorated players in school history, center Jack Allen became just the third Spartan offensive lineman to earn first-team All-America honors twice and only the 15th player overall in school history following a stellar senior season in which the team captain helped lead Michigan State to a Big Ten Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Allen was just as productive off the field, landing on the Academic All-Big Ten team for the fourth year in a row, becoming just the 21st player in the history of the program to be recognized on the team four times. Allen, who graduated in December 2015 with a 3.31 GPA in hospitality business, also was named to the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society and was a semifinalist for the 2015 NFF William V. Campbell Trophy (nation’s top scholar-athlete).
A year after picking up USA TODAY First-Team All-America accolades as a junior in 2014, Allen made the first team as a senior in 2015, according to The Associated Press, CBSSports.com and SI.com. He also was named a finalist for Rimington Trophy (nation’s top center) for the second consecutive season.
Allen, who also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015 for the second year in a row, became only the fifth Spartan on the offensive line to garner first-team all-conference accolades twice and just the second center.
A tough, tenacious and versatile lineman, Allen started 12 games at center for the Spartans in 2015 while helping MSU to its second Big Ten title in three years. The co-captain started the first six games at center, but missed the Michigan and Indiana games with a lower leg injury he suffered in the Rutgers game in Week 6; he returned to the starting lineup in Week 9 vs. Nebraska. He also played at left tackle vs. Purdue and Rutgers due to injuries along the offensive line.
Allen showed off his versatility in the Big Ten Championship Game against the nation’s sixth-ranked rushing defense in the victory over fourth-ranked Iowa, helping the Spartans accumulate 174 yards on the ground. On MSU’s game-winning, 22-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, he played multiple positions, including center, tight end and fullback.
The 6-foot-2, 297-pound Allen graded out at an All-America level in the win over Penn State on Senior Day in his last appearance at Spartan Stadium, leading the team with 10 knockdowns and also rushing for a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He collected 77 knockdowns in 10 games during the regular season.
The Hinsdale, Illinois, native led the Spartans with nine knockdowns at Ohio State, as the Spartans rushed for 203 yards and ended the second-ranked Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak. He was named the Spartan Offensive Player of the Week against both Maryland and Central Michigan.
Allen played in 48 career games, including 47 starts (42 at center, five at left guard), the second-most starts by a Spartan offensive lineman in school history (Joel Foreman: 49 from 2008-11).
“I’d like to thank my coaches and teammates for making an award like this possible,” said Allen. “They are all like my second family, especially the guys in the o-line room. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.
“Looking back on it, I feel like the seniors left their mark on the program. It was nothing but a great experience at Michigan State, even going through all of the practices and all of the offseason workouts with Coach (Ken) Mannie. Playing at Michigan State was the highlight of my life so far.
“Having the success we did as a team just shows that hard work does pay off. If you work hard and do the right things on and off the field, it’s going to set the framework for the rest of your life.”
“We’re extremely proud of Jack Allen and everything he accomplished during his time at Michigan State,” said MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio. “He was a two-time All-American who possessed a tremendous amount of experience and his leadership level was often unmatched. Jack led as well as any player that I’ve ever had. He’s an outstanding athlete – with great hands and feet – who played with power, confidence and toughness. Jack was an impact player who had the ability to make others around him better. He was voted as a team captain by his teammates and did a tremendous job all season leading our team to a Big Ten Championship. Jack also was an excellent student and one of just 21 players in our program’s history to be named to the Academic All-Big Ten four times.”
Allen becomes the 22nd football player at MSU to win the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor and the fourth under Dantonio (Blair White, 2010; Kirk Cousins, 2012; Mike Sadler, 2015). He is the 18th football player to win the Brewer Award and the second under Dantonio (Cousins, 2012).
Allen is also just the fourth athlete at Michigan State to earn the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor and the Chester Brewer Leadership Award in the same year, joining Everett Grandelius (1951), Brandon Eckerle (2011) and Cousins (2012).
PAST WINNERS – BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR MALE WINNERS:
2015-Mike Sadler (football); 2014-Greg Wolfe (hockey); 2013-Jacob Jarzen (swimming and diving); 2012-Kirk Cousins (football); 2011-Brandon Eckerle (baseball); 2010-Blair White (football); 2009-Doug DeMartin (soccer); 2008-Drew Neitzel (basketball); 2007-Drew Stanton (football); 2006-Drew Stanton (football); 2005-Chris Hill (basketball); 2004-Steve Manz (track and field); 2003-Tyler Robinson (soccer); 2002-Josh Thornhill (football); 2001-Shaun Mason (football); 2000-Shawn Horcoff (hockey); 1999-Steve Schell (cross country/track & field); 1998-Tyler Harlton (hockey); 1997-Tyler Harlton (hockey); 1996-Brian Picklo (wrestling); 1995-Emilio Collins (wrestling); 1994-Steve Wasylk (football); 1993-Dave Smith (cross country/track & field); 1992-Stuart Hirschman (baseball); 1991-Walt Bartels (hockey); 1990-Walt Bartels (hockey); 1989-Danton Cole (hockey); 1988-Michael Davidson (baseball); 1987-Dean Altobelli (football); 1986-Don McSween (hockey); 1985-Carlton Evans (lacrosse); 1984-Kelly Miller (hockey); 1983-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1982-Morten Andersen (football); 1981-Jay Vincent (basketball); 1980-Mark Brammer (football); 1979-Gregory Kelser (basketball); 1978-Larry Bethea (football); 1977-Tyrone Willingham (football/baseball); 1976-Pat Milkovich (wrestling); 1975-Dennis Olmstead (hockey); 1974-Robert Cassleman (track); 1973-Kenneth Popejoy (track); 1972-Herb Washington (track); 1971-Thomas Muir (wrestling); 1970-Richard Saul (football); 1969-Allen Brenner (football); 1968-Dale Anderson (wrestling); 1967-Eugene Washington (football, track); 1966-Steve Juday (football); 1965-David Price (gymnastics); 1964-George (Pete) Gent (basketball); 1963-Richard Schloemer (fencing); 1962-Edward Ryan (football); 1961-William Reynolds (track/cross country); 1960-Stan Tarshis (gymnastics); 1959-Robert Anderegg (basketball); 1958-Robert Jasson (hockey); 1957-Selwyn Jones (track); 1956-Carl Nystrom (football); 1955-Kevan Gosper (track); 1954-Robert Hoke (wrestling); 1953-John Wilson (football); 1952-Orris Bender (wrestling); 1951-Everett Grandelius (football).
PAST WINNERS – CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD:
2015-Kori Moster (volleyball); 2014-Kristen Kelsay (volleyball); 2013-Caroline Powers (golf); 2012-Kirk Cousins (football); 2011-Brandon Eckerle (baseball); 2010-Kelly Moffitt (gymnastics); 2009-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2008-Ryan Brehm (golf); 2007-Taren James (track and field); 2006-R.J. Boudro (wrestling); 2005-Kristin Haynie (basketball); 2004-Allison Fouch (golf); 2003-Sandy Lewis (softball); 2002-Adam Hall (hockey); 2001-Ann Cieszkowski (soccer); 2000-Leah Nilsson (cross country/track & field); 1999-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1998-Kyle Baker (cross country); 1997-Dana Cooke (volleyball) and Tamika Matlock (basketball); 1996-Courtney DeBolt (volleyball); 1995-Eric Snow (basketball); 1994-Rob Fredrickson (football); 1993-Steve Johnson (baseball); 1992-Mike Gilmore (hockey); 1991-Becky Belanger (volleyball) and Eileen Shea (basketball); 1990-Chris Willertz (football); 1989-Sheila Ovenhouse (softball); 1988-Pat Shurmur (football); 1987-Shane Bullough (football); 1986-Anthony Bell (football); 1985-Kelly Miller (hockey); 1984-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1983-Eliot Tabron (track & field); 1982-Shawn White (wrestling); 1981-Ray Stachowicz (football); 1980-Terry Donnelly (basketball); 1979-Rodger Bastien (baseball); 1978-Jeff Rudolph (gymnastics); 1977-Gary Domagalski (golf); 1976-Thomas Ross (hockey); 1975-No Award Presented; 1974-Val Washington (lacrosse); 1973-Jerry Sackmann (baseball); 1972-Greg Johnson (wrestling); 1971-Kim Hartman (cross country/track); 1970-Ronald Saul (football); 1969-Toby Towson (gymnastics); 1968-John Bailey (basketball/golf); 1967-Gary Dilley (swimming); 1966-Payton Fuller (soccer), James Curzi (gymnastics); 1965-Douglas Roberts (hockey/football); 1964-Sherman Lewis (track/football); 1963-George Azar (football/baseball); 1962-Stephen Johnson (gymnastics); 1961-William Steuart (swimming); 1960-Crawford “Forddy” Kennedy (cross country/track); 1959-Sam Williams (football); 1958-Dave Lean (track/cross country); 1957-Pat Wilson (football/basketball); 1956-Earl Morrall (football/baseball); 1955-John Matsock (football/baseball); 1954-Tom Yewcic (football/baseball); 1953-Bert McLachlan (swimming); 1952-Robert Carey (football/track/basketball); 1951-Everett Grandelius (football).
DR. JAMES FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD
(Presented to a male or female graduating senior involved in athletics as a competitor or in a supporting role. The recipient should carry a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and in addition to athletic and academic success, demonstrate involvement in school/campus and community activities.)
WINNER: Sarah Kovan (soccer)
Sarah Kovan made a substantial impact on the Spartan women’s soccer program, both on and off the field, during her four years, but her greater contributions to the global community are just beginning.
A member of the Honors College who graduated last month with degrees in comparative cultures and politics in James Madison College and human biology in the College of Natural Science, Kovan was selected as a Rhodes Scholar in November 2015. She is MSU’s 17th Rhodes Scholar.
“I am incredibly touched and honored to be receiving the Dr. James Feurig Award,” said Kovan. “Michigan State University prides itself not only in academics and athletics, but also its relationship with the community. These are all characteristics I have attempted to epitomize throughout my time at MSU and being honored with this award is a wonderful reminder to carry these with me throughout my future endeavors.”
“I am very proud of Sarah for being honored with the prestigious Feurig Award,” said women’s soccer head coach Tom Saxton. “She exemplifies the qualities the award represents with her worldwide community service, as well as her academic excellence and leadership on the soccer field. Sarah was a very special student-athlete and a tremendous representative of our program and Michigan State University.”
Kovan was a four-year starter as a defensive midfielder and captained the Spartans as a senior in 2015.
She’s a three-time Academic All Big-Ten honoree and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.
As a junior and senior, she captured the women’s soccer Scholar-Athlete Award, which is presented to the individual from each team who has reached at least junior academic status, has received a minimum of one varsity letter, and maintains the highest cumulative grade point average on their team.
Her community service involvement extends beyond the United States as studying abroad while at MSU has provided additional opportunities. While studying at Hebrew University, Kovan spent her free time serving in Israel’s national ambulance corps. Her academic research has included evaluating options for economic development in Sri Lanka for low-income women. She has participated in concussion testing for youth athletes and served as a camp counselor for children with special needs. Closer to home, she has volunteered with Hospice of Lansing and the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing.
While studying at the University of Oxford in England next year, Kovan will pursue a master’s of philosophy degree in development studies.
Kovan is the fourth member of the women’s soccer team to win the Feurig Award and the first since 2005 (Erin Carlson).
FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD PAST WINNERS:
2015-Ryan Keener (soccer); 2014-Kristen Kelsay (volleyball); 2013-Kevin Jackson (track and field); 2012-Jenilee Rathje (volleyball); 2011-Jenilee Rathje (volleyball); 2010-Ross Weaver (football); 2009-Katlyn Roggensack (gymnastics); 2008-Matthew McNichols (swimming & diving); 2007-John Masters (football); 2006-Taren James (track and field); 2005-Erin Carlson (soccer); 2004-Joe Tate (football); 2003-Brad Fast (hockey); 2002-Adam Hall (hockey); 2001-Deb White (field hockey); 2000-Jennifer Hanink (soccer); 1999-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1998-Dave Mudge (football); 1997-Stephanie Dueringer (cross country/track & field); 1996-Susan Gibson (soccer); 1995-Angela Howard (gymnastics); 1994-Mill Coleman (football); 1993-Molly West (tennis) and Chris Brown (track & field); 1992-Matt Steigenga (basketball); 1991-Jason Muzzatti (hockey); 1990-Dawna Wilson (gymnastics) and Todd Mercer (swimming & diving); 1989-Kelly Collister (volleyball); 1988-Keiko Timmerman (gymnastics); 1987-Kristen Nelson (swimming & diving) and Barry Fordham (basketball); 1986-John Wojciehowski (football); 1985-Bob Fossum (golf) and Riney Wilke (lacrosse); 1984-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1983-Syd Wells (golf); 1982-Molly Brennan (track & field); 1981-Ivan Merritt (gymnastics); 1980-Michael Longaker (basketball); 1979-Kevin Willitts (lacrosse); 1978-Joan Garety (golf); 1977-Herb Lindsay (track/cross country).