"Most Valuable Players" and many other award-winners were recognized for their competitive accomplishments during the annual Rend Lake College Warrior / Lady Warrior All-Sports Athletic Banquet earlier this month in the Rend Lake Resort Great Room.
But they gladly shared the spotlight at evening’s end with numerous academic-related announcements, including . . .
** The composite grade-point average for 155-plus student athletes at Rend Lake College Fall Semester was a button-busting 3.1 on a 4.0-point scale, thanks in large part to a learning enhancement support system and tutoring second to none in the college ranks, according to Athletic Director Tim Wills. The average GPA for all RLC students was 2.79.
** Thirteen members of various men and women’s athletic teams earned perfect 4.0 GPAs in the fall, Learning Enhancement Specialist Tara Sullivan proclaimed with pride.
** Women’s Tennis player Carissa Hallam (Mt. Vernon) and injured basketball-baseball workhorse Shane Garner (Sesser-Valier) were placed on pedestals as recipients of the prestigious 2004 Female and Male "Scholar / Athlete of the Year" Awards. Hallam, unable to attend because her team was competing in the NJCAA National Championships, compiled a 3.94 GPA her first three semesters; Garner managed two sports, season-ending injuries each of the last two years and a 3.71 mark in the classroom.
Missing along with Coach Diane Metzger’s tennis team were Coach Brent McLain and members of his Track and Field contingent, which was in the process of earning a sixth-in-the-nation showing in the outdoor championships, and the NJCAA Division II National Championship (x3) Cross-Country squad.
An appreciative audience of approximately 260 participants, parents and college staff rose to the occasion once for a standing ovation in honor of freshman baseball standout Drew Millwood (Mt. Vernon). He is wheelchair-bound at the present time after suffering a major sledding injury this past winter.
Middle-infielder Millwood was one of those "MVP" honorees as well. A key player during the fall season, the sidelined Millwood provided the heart, determination and inspiration for his teammates in the spring. His absence, along with that of first-ever "Perseverance Award" winner Garner on the mound, unfortunately was reflected in a less-than-stellar record for first-year Head Coach Bob Simpson & Friends.
Ashlee Pyron (DuQuoin) was saluted as "Most Valuable Player" of the volleyball team, capping a season in which she also was named All-Great Rivers Athletic Conference and All-Region XXIV. She was followed in a succession of "MVPs" by Men’s Golf rep Charlie Throgmorton (Paducah, KY); wisp-of-a-center Delpha Dickson (Memphis, TN) in Women’s Basketball; hard-driving, high-scoring David Inabnit (Whiteland, IN) in Men’s Basketball, another All-GRAC, All-Region choice; second-year Cheerleader Megan Knapp (Mt. Vernon), as voted by her peers, and Softball heavy-hitter Andrea Sobieralski (O’Fallon).
Dr. James Chow and the Orthopaedic Center of Southern Illinois were recognized by Warrior / Lady Warrior Trainer Jenn Robinet for their establishment of the "Perseverance Award," to be given annually hereafter to an individual who demonstrates a positive attitude and persistence while overcoming a physical injury. The initial award was doubled with the beneficiaries being Garner and baseball player Taylor Nahm (Denver, CO), who between them could tell of four surgeries, two broken bones, 138 games missed and over 200 hours rehabbing.
Learning Enhancement Specialist Sullivan, wrapping up her third year in that position, called the evening "my favorite time of the year, because instead of having to tell you to be sure and check your e-mail, I get to say, ‘Great job! Congratulations.’ "
And for the third straight year, different teams were presented plaques for posting the highest overall grade-point averages. Coach Dave Ellingsworth’s Lady Warrior softball team claimed honors for the women with a composite 3.45 GPA. For the men, the basketball team of Coach Tim Wills chalked up a 3.03 GPA.
The softball and men’s basketball teams also took the prize for most improvement from one semester to the next, with increases of .43 and .61, respectively.
Additional award-winners . . .
VOLLEYBALL -- Coach Rhonda Carlton handed out plaques to "Top Server" Larissa Verdeyen (Germantown); "Top Setter" Jenna Petty (Sullivan, IN); "Top Defensive Passer" Sara Skibinski (Ashley), another All-GRAC pick, and "Top Hitter" Pyron.
WOMEN’S GOLF -- "Captain Award," Carrie Paul (Flora); "Spirit Award," Jessica Grimes (West Frankfort); "Special RLC First Hole-in-One Award," Casey Biddinger (McCutcheon, IN). Teammate Danielle Kaufman (Nashville) later earned a similar award with her ace in the third round of the NJCAA Women’s National Championship.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL -- "Outstanding Defender," LaKeila Davis (Memphis, TN), a unanimous pick by her teammates; "Hustle Award," Felisha Prescott (Murray, KY).
MEN’S BASKETBALL -- "Hustle Award," Garner; "Outstanding Defender," DeLance Rowell (Sparta); "Most Dedicated," Chuck Still (Benton).
CHEERLEADERS -- "Ms. Hustle," Mallory Thomas (Mt. Vernon).
BASEBALL -- "Most Valuable Pitcher," Jon Newton (Slaughters, KY); "Most Valuable Hitter," Jason Reinneck (Edwardsville); "Hustle Award," Brian Wilson (Cobden).
MEN’S GOLF -- A team that won three fall tournaments and was second twice boasted medalists at Lincoln (John Major, Hillsboro) and Southwestern Illinois College (Throgmorton).
4.0-POINT GPA FALL SEMESTER -- Baseball’s Elijah Hiatt (Mt. Vernon) and Aaron Johnson (Slaughters, KY), Basketball’s Kyla Parker (Marion), Cheerleaders Lyndsey Fuller (Mt. Vernon) and Knapp; Softball’s Holly Cargal (Johnston City), April Gibson (Tilden) and Ashley Schaeffer (Nashville); Volleyball’s Bethany Johnston (Benton); Tennis player Hallam, and Golf’s John Major (Hillsboro), Alicia Hutchings (Pinckneyville) and Mia van Rooyen (South Africa).
"STUDENT-ATHLETE OF THE MONTH" -- Certificate recipients, nominated by faculty and staff throughout the 2003-04 year, were Tennis players Sarah Blair (Salem), Sarah Dixon (Benton) and Stephanie Ferris (Salem); Basketball’s Terrance Smith (Mascoutah), Garner, Brooklyn Dunihoo (Coulterville / Pinckneyville) and Daniel Thomas (Joppa); Baseball’s Reinneck, Garner, Wilson and Steve Mueller (Edwardsville); Golf’s Major, Nicole Adams (O’Fallon) and Danielle Kaufman (Nashville); Cheerleaders Abby Bradshaw (Mt. Vernon) and Knapp; Volleyball’s Skibinski and Johnston, and Softball’s Sobieralski.
GPA IMPROVEMENT -- This award goes to sophomores who have demonstrated consistent academic improvement over four semesters. Recipients were Baseball’s Tadd Brewer (Sturgis, KY), Brandon Hammons (Beattyville, KY), Brett Mullins (Erlanger, KY) and Newton; Cheerleader Charla Dawson (Christopher); Basketball’s Davis, Dunihoo, Smith and Thomas; Volleyball’s Skibinski and Track and Field’s Corey Dowden (Matteso), Howard Harper (Evansville, IN) and Travis McCollum (Benton).
"ACADEMIC PROMISE" -- Freshmen participants only are eligible for this award. Recipients: Baseball’s Ronnie Glensor (Reno, NV), Daniel Jewett (West Frankfort) and Corey Lewis (Marion); Basketball red-shirt Laray Hodges (Edwardsville); Cheerleader Lauren Polbinski (Christopher), and Golf’s Brian Kuddes (Alton) and Derek McCammack (Hillsboro)