K-State Sports Extra: A Night of Stars

by Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Wildcats were out in all their elegance Monday evening, taking a walk on the Purple carpet into Bramlage Coliseum for the first-ever Mark A. Chapman "Powercat Choice Awards."

The night was one of recognition and celebration of the academic and athletic accomplishments of over 400 KSU student-athletes for their classroom efforts, competitions and involvement in the community.

"It was originally an opportunity to shine the light on the academic side, which is seldom recognized in the media," said Chapman, a 1965 KSU graduate, who now lives in Cat Spring, Texas. "Tonight the format has changed and we're getting a double-barrel shot of thrills by combining athletic accomplishment with the academic side."

The concept of the night was that of athletics director John Currie, who borrowed the idea from several institutions in the Southeastern Conference, which included his former school of Tennessee. With the idea on the table, K-State's Fan Experience Department and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee went to work producing an ESPY's-like awards setting.

"It allows our student-athletes to have a social event together that they wouldn't get to have otherwise," said Currie. "They don't have the time to take part in some of the formals, or some of the other activities that other students or kids have, so they're all dressed up tonight and looking good."

Plus, Currie said of the 420 athletes who are involved in 74 different majors, "It's a way to celebrate accomplishments in a fun way rather than an ordinary banquet."

The evening received a unanimous thumbs-up from the student-athletes with the Wildcats recording yet another department-wide victory.

"It's always good to get other student-athletes together to interact," said Daniel Dellasega, catcher on the K-State baseball team.

Lauren Mathewson of the volleyball team added, "It's so much fun to get dressed up with my friends, and to be with the student-athletes of the other sports that you hear about, but don't see very often. It really is an exciting evening."

Even K-State safety Tyson Hartman said he got a kick out of dressing up for the evening: "It is fun, especially in a formal setting like this. We normally only see each other in class, and then it's in sweats." Laughing, he added, "We dress up pretty nice."

Jacob Pullen added, "It's fun to get back together as a team, see each other dressed up, and celebrate the type of season we had."

The nominating of award candidates and the voting for the winners was by the SAAC members, who received input and feedback from student-athletes and coaches.

The award presentations were made by K-State student-athletes with video clips of each candidate.

Teams under consideration were the fall and winter sports of the current academic-season, plus the spring sports of the 2009 season.

Athletic winners (and nominees) included:
Female Newcomer: Brittany Chambers, basketball (Caitlyn Donahue, volleyball; Sara Stoakes, track)
Male Newcomer: Nick Martini, baseball (Curtis Kelly, basketball; Daniel Thomas, football)
Best Female In Supporting Role: Tiara Walpool, track and field (Abby Fay, volleyball; Natasha Vieira, tennis)
Best Male In Supporting Role: Jamar Samuels, basketball (James Allen, baseball; Rok Derzanic, track and field)
Most Inspirational: Chris Merriewether, basketball (Lauren Mathewson, volleyball; Nina Kokot, track and field)
Purple Pride Award: Julianne Chisholm, volleyball (Victor Ojeleye, basketball; Elise Houtz, golf)
Show-Stopping Moment: Men's basketball victory over Xavier (baseball win over No. 1 Texas in two games; Rowing's win over Kansas at Big 12 Championship)
Women's Team of the Year: Rowing (Golf and Equestrian)
Men's Team of the Year: Basketball (Baseball and Golf)
Coach of the Year:  Frank Martin, men's basketball (Brad Hill, baseball; Tim Norris, golf)
Female Athlete of the Year: Loren Groves, track and field (Beverly Ramos, track and field; Ashley Sweat, basketball)
Male Athlete of the Year: Jacob Pullen, basketball (AJ Morris, baseball; Moritz Cleve, track and field)

Academic Award winners:
Bob and Lila Snell ... for excellence and effort: Morgan Campbell, equestrian; Brock Unruh, football
Gina Sylvester Memorial ... in Arts and Science department: Luis Colon
Scholastic Achievement Award ... highest GPA: Abbi Sunner, women's golf; Alyssa Freeman, equestrian)
Chick-Fil-A Community of Champions: Kyle Hanson, rowing;  Abbi Sunner, women's golf; Chris Merriewether, men's basketball
Veryl and Fern Switzer Campus Leader Award:  Victor Ojeleye, men's basketball
Academic All-District VII: Kelsey Chipman, volleyball; Tysyn Hartman, football; Kari Kincaid, women's basketball; Jeffrey Fitzgerald, football
Academic All-American: JuliAnn Chisholm, volleyball; Loren Groves, track and field; Jeron Mastrud, football; Scott Sellers, track and field; Ashley Sweat, women's basketball
Scholar Athletes of the Year: Jeron Mastrud, football; Beverly Ramos, track and field