SE: Student Athletes Celebrate an Exciting Year

K-State student-athletes showed up in style last night and walked the purple carpet at the annual Mark A. Chapman Powercat Choice Awards. 

Trading in their sneakers and cleats for dress shoes and high heels and their purple uniforms for dresses, suits and ties, last night was an evening spent celebrating the many successes of K-State Athletics in 2015-16. 

“It’s great to celebrate all the student-athlete accomplishments, all the teams and everything that has gone on throughout the year,” said men’s basketball senior Brian Rohleder. “Seeing everybody dressed up, that’s probably my favorite part about it. You always see them in their sweaty uniforms and things like that, so this is a lot of fun.” 

Organized every year by a group of representatives from the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the event is for all 450-plus K-State student-athletes to attend and celebrate their achievements both in the classroom and in competition over the past year.

From community service to scholastic achievement to performance in sport, numerous awards were presented to the student-athletes for their excellence not only on the playing field, but off it as well. Each award winner was chosen by the votes of his or her fellow student-athletes. 

“It’s fun to see who wins all the awards,” said women’s basketball sophomore Shaelyn Martin. “Even as a SAAC member, we don’t know who wins. When we go up to announce the winners, it’s a surprise for us when we open the envelops. It’s always fun to see the expression on someone’s face when they win.” 

Along with the award announcements, this year’s Powercat Choice Awards featured some added excitement. Each team had the opportunity to submit a lip sync video to air during the banquet. Filled with costumes and theatrics, the teams went all out in these musical performances. 

“I think this year was our best year ever,” said football senior Stanton Weber, the 2015-16 SAAC President. “We’re constantly tweaking and improving, and this year we added a lot of creativity. We asked each team to make a lip sync video, and man, they really showed up. It added to it and gave it an even cooler feel that you get like if you’re watching an awards show on television.” 

And just like those awards show on television, the biggest awards are always saved for the end. On the women’s side, senior Akela Jones of the women’s track and field team was voted as the Female Athlete of the Year for the second-consecutive year, while, on the men’s side, senior Cody Whitehair of the football team was named the Male Athlete of the Year.

During the summer of 2015 and spring of 2016, Jones became one of the greatest athletes in K-State track and field history by breaking five school records. A two-time NCAA National title winner, Jones placed first in the heptathlon at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships. This spring, she placed first at the 2016 Indoor NCAA Championships in the high jump. 

“It is so exciting; each year it just gets better,” said Jones. “There were a lot of good performances this year by so many Wildcat student-athletes, so to be among the best and to be named one of the best in 2016, it’s phenomenal. It’s been a commendable night. I’ve enjoyed tonight, and I’m just happy I won another K-State award.” 

Whitehair was voted K-State’s Male Athlete of the Year after a senior season with the Wildcats where he earned 2015 All-Big 12 First Team honors and picked up votes for the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year award. Whitehair was unable to attend last night’s event due to his training schedule leading up to this week’s NFL Draft where he is a projected top-round pick. 

Overall, this year’s Powercat Choice Awards were a celebration of the hard work K-State student-athletes put in every day both on and off their respective playing field. 

Here’s a full look at each of this year’s winners:

Male Newcomer of the Year – Dean Wade, men’s basketball
Female Newcomer of the Year – Megan Deines, women’s basketball
Best Male in a Supporting Role – Shane Conlon, baseball
Best Female in a Supporting Role – Rhizlane Siba, track and field
Inspiration Award – DJ Johnson, men’s basketball
Purple Pride Award – Morgan Burns, football
Outstanding Service to the Community – Kali Retzler, equestrian 
Outstanding Service to the Community – Clayton Dalrymple, baseball 
Show Stopping Moment of the Year – Men’s Basketball Beats No. 1 OU 
Men’s Team of the Year – Men’s Track and Field
Women’s Team of the Year – Women’s Track and Field 
Coach of the Year – Jeff Mittie, women’s basketball 
Female Athlete of the Year – Akela Jones, track and field 
Male Athlete of the Year – Cody Whitehair, football 

Wildcat Cup Trophy winner

Academic Award Winners
Scholastic Achievement Award – Stanton Weber, football
Bob & Lila Snell Academic Award for Excellence & Effort – Gretchen Koenen, equestrian
Bob & Lila Snell Academic Award for Excellence & Effort – Ifeanyi Otuonye, track and field
Gina Sylvester Memorial Award – Logan Smith, track and field
Veryl & Fern Switzer Campus Leadership Award – William Ash, football
Male Scholar Athlete of the Year – Glenn Gronkowski, football
Female Scholar Athlete of the Year – Dani Winters, track and field 

Glass Crescent Awards
CoSIDA Academic All District VII 1st Team:
Katie Brand, volleyball 
Kersten Kober, volleyball 
Brian Rohleder, men’s basketball 
Jack Cantele, football 
Glenn Gronkowski, football 

*Note: The voting for the Powercat Choice Award winners is based on the accomplishments of sporting teams from Spring 2015 to Winter 2016.