Published: April 25, 2013

Over three dozen University of Colorado student-athletes, including 15 with perfect 4.00 grade point averages last year, were honored for a variety of outstanding academic accomplishments Tuesday morning at the 21st Annual Student-Athlete Academic Recognition Banquet.

Over 300 people attended the event, held in the Byron White Club Lounge at CU’s Folsom Field. 

The Clancy A. Herbst, Jr., Student-Athlete Achievement Award was presented to two recipients, Malcolm Creer(football) and Brian Owens (track), as the award is given to athletes who overcome personal, academic or emotional difficulties to succeed both academically and athletically.

Creer, who has overcome a learning disability and is now looking to help others by majoring in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, was redshirting his true freshman year in 2011 when he was called upon to play due to injuries.  His first game was CU’s eighth of the season, well into the second half of the year, and in the ninth game, he suffered a torn knee ligament that sidelined him for a year.

Owens, who throws the javelin, had elbow surgery prior to coming to CU, has since had a second and is looking at a third.  He also suffered heartbreak with the death of a younger brother in an accident, one he salutes in tribute every time before he makes a throw.

The highest award a graduating senior can receive from the Pac-12 Conference is the Tom Hansen Medal, named for the league’s longtime commissioner, and is based on the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.  Each school selects a male and female recipient, and these were presented to Emma Coburn (cross country and track) and Sabatino Chen (men’s basketball).

Four students were presented with the Scholar-Athlete Award, as the recipients include a member of the sophomore and junior classes and male and female members from the senior class who have accumulated the highest cumulative grade point average in their respective class (and are awarded by academic year, not eligibility class).

The winners were:

  • Thea Grosvold, Soph., Skiing (3.870 GPA, Business)
  • Rachel Viger, Jr., Cross Country & Track (4.00 GPA, Chemical Engineering)
  • Nikki Look,Sr., Cross Country & Track (4.00 GPA, Applied Mathematics)
  • Ian Mallams, Sr., Skiing (3.799 GPA, Environmental Studies and Geography)

Look also received the honor as a sophomore and junior.

Academic team winners for grade point average were the women’s soccer team for a sport with its championship in the fall semester (3.267) and the men’s ski team for those who compete in the spring semester (an astounding 3.604).  The soccer team also won a fierce competition over the men’s and women’s golf teams for the most improved honor for a team, as its aggregate GPA rose .183 over the last two semesters, edging men’s ski, volleyballand football.

In the 2012 calendar year, there were 15 student-athletes who studied to perfection, as in 4.00 grade point averages for at least one semester if not the full year, and thus were inducted into CU’s 4.0 club; membership now stands at 252 members since 1994.  Those honored included Grosvold, Look, Mallams and Viger, with that quartet joined by:

Courtney Bouchet (majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Neuroscience in Psychology), Lindsy Mattson (Communication and Economics), Jessica McLaughlin (English) and Jessica Tebo(Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction), all on the women’s cross country and/or track team;  Andreas Haug (Finance),Katie Stege (Architecture), Michael Vigers and Claire Wise (both Chemical and Biological Engineering), all members of the ski team;  Chelsey Keoho (Integrative Physiology and Communication) and Elysse Richardson (Psychology), of the women’s volleyball team; and Alex Dohm (French and Mechanical Engineering) of the soccer team.

Out of 306 student-athletes, 151 attained a 3.0 grade point either cumulatively or for the spring and/or fall semesters through 2012, 71 of whom owned 3.5 averages or better.  Those are impressive numbers when realized that CU’s curriculum is one of the toughest in Division I athletics, as evidenced by the roll call of majors being undertaken by many of the award winners.

Jason Burstyn, a senior on the men’s golf team, Ben Mills, a junior on the men’s basketball squad and Arnaud Du Pasquier, a sophomore on CU’s national championship ski team, were recognized as recipients of the Most Improved Student-Athlete Awards.

There were four recipients of the Buffalo Leadership and Initiative Awards, given to the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior student-athletes who have exhibited outstanding initiative and demonstrates a strong commitment to service to the CU and Boulder communities.  Those winners were Lauren Shaner (senior, soccer), Jessica Aschenbrenner (junior, volleyball), Kelsey Spencer (sophomore, volleyball) and Josh Scott (freshman, basketball),

The Student Support Services Academic Award was presented to Rita DiTommaso, who has worked as a student trainer for four years.  Owner of a 3.7 grade point, she will earn her undergraduate degree in Integrative Physiology this May.  This award is presented to a student worker who maintains a 3.0 GPA while demonstrating strong commitment and leadership to CU athletics. 

Closing comments were made by Look, who has had seven consecutive semesters with a 4.0 grade point and was guaranteed a spot in CU’s medical school her sophomore year.  She spoke about her past challenges in overcoming two knee surgeries and the path that brought her to CU, and how she earned an academic scholarship (Boettcher) and earned a spot on the track team.  It was centric to the theme she conveyed to the audience:

“The challenges of academics and athletics lead us to succeed in both.”

Images and story courtesy of CU Athletics.