RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (GAC) - The Great American Conference unveiled the list of nominees for the league's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award to be presented at the GAC Night of Champions on Monday at the Bricktown Event Center in Oklahoma City.
Administrators from the 11 current members of the league will vote on the following nominees to determine the overall conference honoree. All 11 will be recognized at the Night of Champions.
Tickets to the Night of Champions are $25 per person and can be reserved by emailing GAC Assistance Commissioner Audra Tope at firstname.lastname@example.org. The GAC Sports Network will webcast the event for free at www.gacsportsnetwork.com.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT MONTICELLO: Maggie Sands (Softball)
Hometown: Ferris, Texas
Supportive Information: Sands, a First-Team All-GAC, led UAM with a .364 average. She opened the season with a 33-game on-base streak. She twice received the NFCA Scholar Athlete Award and Division 2 Athletics Directors Academic Achievement Awards in 2011-12. She worked with elementary students at local YMCA on a weekly basis during the fall.
Quote from Arkansas-Monticello Softball Coach Alvy Early: "I have known Maggie the past five years as she has been a positive example both on and off the softball field. She has maintained an excellent balance with her athletic career and her academic responsibilities. Maggie's name has become a fixture on the 'Chancellor's List' during her tenure at UAM. Maggie is a very impressive individual. She works untiringly to do her best at whatever she attempts. Maggie is well respected by the faculty, staff, students and teammates and is recognized as an individual that is driven to succeed and achieve her goals."
ARKANSAS TECH UNIVERSITY: Jessica Weatherford (Basketball)
Hometown: Bonnerdale, Arkansas
Supportive Information: Weatherford earned First-Team All-GAC honors and the 2013 GAC Tournament MVP honors. She has earned Academic All-Conference honors throughout her career and twice made the Dean's List. She served at a Craft Mission workshop Juneiai, Brazil, Thanksgiving Missions for the Homeless and on the Mile 74 Trash Clean Up Crew.
Quote from Arkansas Tech Basketball Coach Dave Wilbers: "Jessica will be known as one of the greatest ambassadors for Arkansas Tech...with what she has accomplished on the floor, in the classroom, and her service to her community. She demonstrated leadership qualities and was respected by her peers, fans, coaches, and teammates. Jessica has spent time with several community and service projects in the last four years. One [highlight] was spending one summer with her teammates on a mission trip to Brazil making crafts with kids and sending those crafts to a remote village in the northern Amazon region."
EAST CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: Ashley Cardwell (Golf)
Hometown: Mustang, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: She became just the second student-athlete from ECU to earn a spot on a CoSIDA Academic All-America Team. On the course, she placed fifth at the GAC Championships and earned All-GAC Honorable Mention. She has served as the ECU Honors Student Association Treasurer and as a Peer Mentor.
Quote from East Central Golf Coach Danny Key: "She has earned the respect of her teammates as a dedicated golfer, always working on aspects of her game to improve. She's shown dogged determination in constantly improving her golf game and has led our team...with her integrity and dependability. She has [kept] our team chemistry good by regularly hosting players over for dinner and assisting them with tutoring. Ashley has been the prototypical, successful college student; involved in numerous activities and always busy studying, working on school projects, practicing golf, and working in the English Dept."
HARDING UNIVERSITY: Amber Schinzing (Volleyball)
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Supportive Information: Schinzing helped Harding to an undefeated GAC regular-season championship and a GAC Tournament title. She led the GAC and ranked 17th in Division II in assists per set. Off the court, she participated in Bisons for Christ Service Projects and volunteered at volleyball camps in Searcy and at home in Florida.
Quote from Harding Volleyball Coach Meredith Fear: "Amber has been an impact player for our program for four years. She has received multiple honors including First Team All-GAC, All-Tournament and multiple Setter of the Week recognitions. She has demonstrated the ability to balance both academics and athletics while excelling in both. She has accomplished all of [these] awards and honors with a rigorous academic schedule, majoring in Exercise Science and maintaining a 3.0+ GPA. Last year, she participated in a spring break campaign to Honduras and has been a participant in service days each year."
HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY: Amber Wilburn (Softball)
Hometown: Gilmer, Texas
Supportive Information: Wilburn capped her softball career at Henderson State by receiving Second-Team All-GAC and All-Tournament honors. She earned the NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete award for 2010-11. Within the community, she has offered her time to Henderson Halloween, Reddie to Serve Community Clean up, Operation Christmas Child.
Quote from Henderson State Senior Woman Administrator Rhonda Thigpen: "Amber is an example of a scholar athlete. In ...four years, she has been able to complete her degree. That [achievement] is quite a feat for a
nursing major who has to get in all of her clinical work. Amber has been on our academic honor roll for our
athletic department each semester. Amber has been involved in several events on our campus where she gives back to others. She was instrumental in the success of the team at the conference tournament as she helped guide them to the final ...[for] the first time in [HSU softball history]."
NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Stephanie Martin (Golf)
Hometown: Enid, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Martin recorded a pair of two-top finishes including a victory at the Oklahoma
Panhandle Invitational. She helped the Rangers win their first title team as a Division II program. She graduated Cum Laude with a 3.74 GPA in biology health science. She ranked in the top 50 in the region in stroke average and finished 14th at the GAC Championships.
Quote from Northwestern Oklahoma State Director of Athletic Communications Bryan Holmgren: "Stephanie Martin was a steady, veteran presence on a young Northwestern Oklahoma State team this year. She led us to our first women's golf team title of the NCAA Division II era, also taking top individual honors at the Panhandle State Invitational. She was obviously a great example to her teammates with her play on the course, but that leadership also extended to the classroom, where Stephanie posted a 3.74 GPA while Majoring in Biology Health Science. She graduated Cum Laude this spring."
OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY: Allison Frizzell (Volleyball)
Hometown: McKinney, Texas
Supportive Information: Frizzell, a three-time captain, finished her career second on OBU's all-time digs list. She led the GAC in digs per set. She became a member of the Phi Epsilon Kappa Honor Society and the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society. She made missions to Africa and New York, participated in Tiger Serve Day and helped plan weekly FCA meetings and events.
Quote from Ouachita Baptist Volleyball Coach Danny Prescott: "Allison is deserving of this award due to her
academic accomplishments, outstanding leadership skills, work ethic, and personal integrity which she
demonstrates in the classroom, on the volleyball court, and in every aspect of life. She exemplifies high ethical standards as a student leader; she graduated Cum Laude. and received the Outstanding Senior Mathematics Major academic award. She possesses the ability to motivate her teammates in the most trying times...and she continually uplifts their spirits through her exceptional athletic efforts."
SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: Paige Priest (Softball)
Hometown: La Porte, Texas
Supportive Information: The Savage Storm's center fielder started all 54 games for the GAC regular-season and tournament champions. She has earned Academic All-American and NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors. She hosted Senior Citizens Birthday Party with SAAC and participated in Unity in the Community, Southeastern's Community Engagement activity.
Quote from Southeastern Oklahoma State Softball Coach Ron Faubion: "She was an outstanding student-athlete and a leader [of] the team on and off the field. She was a member of our Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Paige is a very unselfish athlete as witness by the fact she moved to the number eight and nine spot after batting leadoff the previous year without any complaints. She is highly motivated, very efficient and does outstanding work. I wish there would be some way we could retain her in our softball program."
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY: Brittany Wood (Softball)
Hometown: Ben Wheeler, Texas
Supportive Information: Wood, a four-year starter for the Lady Muleriders, amassed 168 hits, 77 RBI, 28 doubles, and 10 home runs. Academically, Wood, has made the President's List at SAU four times and made the Dean's List three times. She has worked with Special Olympics all four years in addition to spending time with Magnolia Specialized Services.
Quote from Southern Arkansas Faculty Athletics Representative Steven Dingman: "Brittany is an outstanding example of a well-rounded Div. II student-athlete. [She] excelled in athletics, academics and community service. [She] was named ...the Female Auburn Smith Award winner - the most prestigious award available to a student-athlete at SAU. [Brittany] volunteers with several area programs and has been active in our HKR Club for three years. Brittany embodies the true meaning of student-athlete with her extremely high GPA in the classroom and her selfless work on campus and in the community."
SOUTHERN NAZARENE UNIVERSITY: Amy Madden (Softball)
Hometown: Bethany, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Madden established the Crimson Storm career records for home runs, 50, and RBI, 213 as she hit above .370 for the fourth-straight year. She earned First-Team All-GAC honors - her third-straight all-conference first-team selection - and Second-Team NFCA All-Central Region. She added the Capital One Academic All-America of the Year honor.
Quote from Southern Nazarene Softball Coach Tere Webber: "Amy is the model Division II student-athlete. She was a two-time All-American at the NAIA level and was the 2011 NFCA Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year as a sophomore. A 4.0 in any major should be celebrated, but to keep a perfect GPA in biology-chemistry is something to be heralded. Many times Amy had to practice on her own because class schedules would not allow her to practice with the rest of her team. She was a leader both on and off the field as she led by example on and spent many hours helping fellow teammates with homework."
SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY: SaRaya Oyler (Basketball)
Hometown: Beaver, Oklahoma
Supportive Information: Oyler helped the Lady Bulldogs advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since joining Division II as she ranked second on the team in scoring. She earned the Frank Polk Memorial Scholarship - an award designed for SWOSU business majors. She participated in Special Olympics, Clean Up Weatherford, Early Bird reading and Gym Rats.
Quote from Southwestern Oklahoma State Basketball Coach Kelsi Musick: "SaRaya Oyler has been an imperative piece to the building of our women's basketball program here at SWOSU. During her four years here, she has endured hardship and triumph all the while being successful with class and determination. SaRaya is one of the toughest players I have ever coached and I cannot say enough great things about this young lady. She has left a lasting impression of greatness on our program.