JONESBORO, Ark. (5/3/16) – The Arkansas State Athletics Department held its fourth annual "The stAte Awards" banquet Tuesday night at the Convocation Center, celebrating the 2015-16 academic and athletic accomplishments achieved by its student-athletes, honoring the Red Wolves' senior class and announcing its major award winners.
The event began once again this year with what has become a traditional "red carpet walk" by the coaches and student-athletes at the Convo entrance, where they had photos taken and conducted interviews that appeared on the facility video boards.
The event also included a buffet dinner before the program began with introductory remarks by A-State radio play-by-play announcer Matt Stolz, who served as master of ceremonies. Following a brief welcome and recognition of distinguished guests in attendance, including members of the Arkansas State University administration, Stolz discussed many of the Red Wolves' first-time accomplishments before introducing Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir.
Mohajir elaborated on some of those achievements, thanked the student-athletes for being positive role models and ambassadors for Arkansas State University and shared some motivational words for the Red Wolves about taking advantage of their time at A-State. The academic highlights from this year included a 3.070 all-department GPA and 213 student-athletes earning a place on the most recent Athletics Director's Honor Roll, which were both school records. A-State is in the midst of an unprecedented era in academic achievement with record-setting 2013, 2014 and 2015 fall semesters, which saw its student-athletes combine to post their best ever all-department GPA in three consecutive years for the first time.
Among the competitive highlights so far this season was the football team's fourth Sun Belt Conference championship over the last five seasons, a second regular-season league title over the last three years for the women's basketball team, the women's bowling team winning the inaugural Southland Bowling League and advancing to the NCAA Championships and the volleyball team claiming a conference championship and making an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
A-State head volleyball coach David Rehr, who was selected by student-athletes as the Red Wolves' Coach of the Year, and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative Stephanie Mims both also addressed the crowd. Following a "Year in Review" video, senior Ty White of the baseball team received the athletics department's Service Award and also had the opportunity to speak.
The evening continued with a Team GPA Award issued to the baseball and women's basketball squads for compiling a 3.2 and 3.1 GPA, respectively. An Athletics Director's Honor Roll recognition ensued, highlighted by the fact that at least seven student-athletes from every sport made the list. The athletics department also recognized the A-State cheerleaders and Red Wolves Dancers for their accomplishments and dedicated involvement with A-State Athletics.
Not only were the student-athletes presented their All-Sun Belt Conference trophies for this year, other individual awards announced included the Terry Gwin Award, Scott and Kay Dawson Ambassador Award and the new Dr. Tim and Terri Langford Academic Achievement Award. The three awards are the most prestigious honors an A-State student-athlete can receive.
Senior guard and three-time Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Year Aundrea Gamble and junior track and field athlete Roelf Pienaar, an All-America selection, were named the recipients of the Terry Gwin Award for the second straight year. The award is named after former football player Terry Gwin and based on leadership, citizenship, scholarship and athletic performance.
The Scott and Kay Dawson Award winners were senior women's golfer Endsley Evans and senior track and field athlete Andre Walker. The criteria for the award includes, but is not limited to, excellence in service, attitude, integrity, loyalty, character and leadership.
The first Dr. Tim and Terri Langford Award, the highest academic honor within A-State Athletics and presented for excelling academically while demonstrating a commitment to academic integrity, Arkansas State University and the community, was issued to senior baseball player Adam Grantham.
A-State student-athletes nominated for Sun Belt Conference awards were honored at the ceremony as well. Gamble and Pienaar are nominated for the Sun Belt Conference Female and Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Luke Ferguson of the football team is nominated for the SBC Postgraduate Scholarship Award, and women's soccer student-athlete Alexis Philippe is A-State's institutional representative for the SBC Leadership Team.
The H.T. "Pug" Winters Degree Completion Award went to Austin Baker (baseball) and Alexandra Pevtsova (women's track and field), while the Billie Gene Davidson Degree Completion Award was presented to Michael Gordon (football). The Red Wolves' 2015-16 female Freshman of the Year winner was Carlisa May (volleyball), and the male Freshman of the Year was Warren Wand (football).
Also as part of the event, there was an NCAA Championships recognition for the volleyball and women's bowling team and individual track and field participants Pienaar and Kristina Knott. The bowling, women's basketball, football and volleyball squad were also recognized for winning conference titles.