The 20th Annual Golden ‘Cane Awards Gala honored The University of Tulsa's top student-athletes Tuesday night. A crowd of over 850 gathered for the Grammy Awards-type Ceremony at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the TU campus.
The top awards were given to TU's “Ultimate Team” members, while the Wilson Holloway Ultimate Service Award, Outstanding Team Community Service Award, Faculty Member of the Year Award, the Dan Bitson Courage Award and a new award, the Faculty Athletic Board Classroom Grit Award, were also presented.
The “Ultimate Team” honors those student-athletes who, during the current academic year, have exemplified those qualities and characteristics that are consistent with the missions and values of The University of Tulsa. The qualities and characteristics considered include academic success, campus involvement, community outreach, athletic participation and other areas of student involvement.
The “Ultimate Team” members for the 2014-15 academic year is made up of eight student-athletes, including Valerie El Houssine (Volleyball), Julie Kernen (Softball), Mariah Turner (Basketball), Katy Riojas (Soccer), Melissa Urquhart (Rowing), Abe Matamoros (Soccer), Bryce Robinson (Track & Field) and Jake Sizelove (Football).
The Wilson Holloway “Ultimate Service” award was established in order to recognize the efforts of student support staff for service to the teams and student-athletes. The selection of this individual is based on academic success, campus involvement, community outreach, service-oriented participation in athletics or other areas of student involvement. This year, the honoree was four-year women's basketball student manager Stephanie Medina.
Tulsa senior softball student-athlete, Bailey Erwin, was recognized as Dan Bitson Courage Award winner. The award, which was established in 1992 in the name of former TU football standout Dan Bitson (1986-91), is presented annually to the TU student-athlete who exemplifies courage, perseverance and tenacity for overcoming adversity. Bitson fought back from severe injuries suffered in an automobile accident in 1989 and returned to the football field in 1991.
Erwin has gone through significant surgeries of her right and left knees during her playing career. She has significant arthritic conditions in both of her knees, which causes pain in almost all activity.
The Warren Garrison Academic Excellence Award, presented in honor of TU's first academic advisor and given to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average, has two winners this year. Both winners, Valerie El Houssine and Quinn Starker, have compiled perfect 4.0 GPAs. The Faculty Member of the Year, voted on by the student-athletes, is Professor of Mathematics, Kim Adams.
A new award this season, the Faculty Athletic Board Classroom Grit Award goes to women's basketball player Kadan Brady and 5th-year football student-athlete Ja'Terian Douglas.
For turning in a total of 485 volunteer hours for an average of 37.34 hours per student-athlete in 2014-15, the Women's Basketball Team was the recipient of the Outstanding Team Community Service Award.
2014-15 SPECIAL AWARDS
Ultimate Team Members (awarded to student-athletes based on academic success, campus involvement, community outreach and athletic participation)
Valerie El Houssine, Volleyball
Julie Kernen, Softball
Abe' Matamoros, Men's Soccer
Katy Riojas, Women's Soccer
Bryce Robinson, Track & Field
Jake Sizelove, Football
Maria Turner, Women's Basketball
Melissa Urquhart, Rowing
Wilson Holloway Ultimate Service Award (recognize the efforts of student support staff for service to the teams and student-athletes)
Stephanie Medina, Women's Basketball
Dan Bitson Courage Award (presented to the TU student-athlete who exemplifies courage, perseverance and tenacity for overcoming adversity)
Bailey Erwin, Softball
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Faculty Member of the Year Award (selected by the TU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee)
Kim Adams, Professor of Mathematics
Warren Garrison Academic Excellence Award (presented to student-athletes who have maintained 4.0 cumulative GPA)
Valerie El Houssine, Volleyball
Quinn Starker, Men's Soccer
Outstanding Team Community Service (team with the most community service hours)
Faculty Athletic Board Classroom Grit Award (awarded to one male and one female graduating senior student-athlete who has faced the rigors of TU classes with extraordinary commitment and effort)
Kadan Brady, Women's Basketball
Ja'Terian Douglas, Football
2014-15 INDIVIDUAL SPORT AWARD WINNERS
James Woodard, Offensive Player of the Year
Shaquille Harrison, Defensive Player of the Year
Ashley Clark, Offensive Player of the Year
Teanna Reid, Defensive Player of the Year
Keevan Lucas, Offensive Player of the Year
Derrick Alexander, Defensive Player of the Year
Luke Snider, Special Teams Player of the Year
Matt Mabrey, Golfer of the Year
Nadia Majidizadeh, Golfer of the Year
Emailia Seto, Team MVP
Colleen Wohlrab, Team MVP
Akeil Barrett, Offensive Player of the Year
Bradley Bourgeois, Defensive Player of the Year
Christina Holmes and Rachel Thun, Offensive Players of the Year
Sierra Krenik and Darienne Chapman, Defensive Players of the Year
Or Ram-Harel, Most Valuable Player
Saana Saarteinen, Most Valuable Player
Men's Track & Field
Bryce Robinson, Indoor Athlete of the Year
Bryce Robinson, Outdoor Athlete of the Year
Women's Track & Field
Audrey Jean-Baptiste, Indoor Athlete of the Year
Katherine Camp, Outdoor Athlete of the Year
Women's & Men's Cross Country
Brandi Krieg, Female Athlete of the Year
Marc Scott, Male Athlete of the Year
2014-15 ULTIMATE TEAM MEMBERS
Volleyball senior VALERIE EL HOUSSINE has a 4.0 GPA and will graduate next month with a degree in Management and Marketing. On the court, she was named second-team All-Conference and ranked fourth in the nation in aces per set. She has participated in the TU Service Day and the Feed My Starving Children program. El Houssine was named a third-team Capital One Academic All-American this season and recently was awarded with The American Athletic Conference's Institutional Scholar-Athlete Scholarship, winning a $2,000 scholarship, which may be applied to graduate or professional studies.
Senior JULIE KERNEN epitomizes what hard work and dedication are all about. Kernen is a four-year letterwinner and two-time captain of the Golden Hurricane softball team. On the diamond Kernen has led TU to two regular season and two post-season conference championships and three appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Off the field, Kernen serves as a University Ambassador and mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, all while representing the softball team on TU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. For her efforts in the classroom, Kernen has been named to the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, and next month will graduate from TU with a 3.971 GPA in Speech Pathology.
Men's soccer senior ABÉ MATAMOROS is a four-year letterwinner, and maintains a 3.97 GPA. On the field, Matamoros helped lead the Golden Hurricane to the American Athletic Conference championship in their inaugural season in the league and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Offensive Player. Off the field he remains heavily involved with the Newman Center here on campus, in addition to volunteering at Emergency Infant Services. In addition to being named a two-time member of the Ultimate Team, earlier this month Matamoros was awarded with The American Athletic Conference's Institutional Scholar-Athlete Scholarship, winning a $2,000 scholarship which may be applied to graduate or professional studies. Next month, Matamoros will leave TU with a degree in economics.
Junior women's soccer student-athlete KATY RIOJAS, maintains a 4.0 GPA in mechanical engineering, and was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship earlier this month. Riojas was selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of more than 1,200 students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. On the field, she played in 56 games, and tallied two assists for two points. Off the soccer field, she regularly volunteers at the Little Light House, Children's Mercy Hospital, Hillcrest Transitional Housing, and Harvesters Food Collection.
Junior track & field standout BRYCE ROBINSON is already among TU's most decorated student-athletes. Earlier this year the five-time All-American led the Golden Hurricane to a second-place team finish at the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championships, and was named the meet's Most Outstanding Performer. He placed third in the 200-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships, helping the Golden Hurricane finish in a tie for 17th at Nationals. Off the track, Bryce maintains a 3.3 GPA in Exercise & Sports Science, while being heavily involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Foundations Church.
Senior football player JAKE SIZELOVE came to TU as a walk-on out of Argyle, Texas, and eventually earned a scholarship and starting role at linebacker. This past season, Sizelove led the Golden Hurricane in a number of categories, and played an important role on both defense and special teams. In addition to his athletic success, Sizelove is on the leadership team for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteers with Read Across America. Sizelove will graduate next month with a Master's degree in Business Administration.
Senior MARIAH TURNER is a four-year letterwinner and two-year starter for the Golden Hurricane basketball team. Turner will graduate next month with a degree in Organizational Studies, and leaves The University of Tulsa with the program's second best all-time career field goal percentage. In addition to her many accomplishments both on the court and in the classroom, Turner serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and regularly volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Sequoyah Elementary, Chouteau Elementary, and the Tulsa Zoo.
Senior MELISSA URQUHART is a four-year letterwinner and current team captain of the rowing team. Urquhart maintains a 3.48 GPA and next month will graduate from TU with a degree in Biochemistry-Premed. In addition to her studies, she has participated in the last three TU Research Colloquiums and has been a part of the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge since 2012. Urquhart has served as the president of TU's Student-Athlete Advisory Council for the past two years, and regularly volunteers with Meals for Love and Habitat for Humanity.