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Reinhardt honors student-athletes with inaugural RESPY awards

By Mary Leidig

In a football game, there are usually only six eligible receivers on the offense at any one time, but Friday night nearly 200 Reinhardt student-athletes received sports performance and academic awards – representing all 22 RU Eagles’ teams.

The celebration dinner was the University’s first ever, honoring past and present Reinhardt student-athletes. More than 650 students, parents, alumni, faculty, administrators and friends of Reinhardt packed the James and Sis Brown Athletic Center on Reinhardt’s campus.

Inspired by ESPN’s ESPYs, the Reinhardt athletics’ program created its own award, calling it Reinhardt Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly award or, simply, the RESPYs.

“I’m so proud of how the event turned out that we put together to showcase the successes of our student-athletes and coaches,” said Bill Popp, Reinhardt athletics director. “I foresee this becoming an annual tradition that is one of the highlights each year for the athletic department and for the University.”

Two former student-athletes were named Hall of Famers, and 28 were awarded RESPYs. More than 120 student-athletes were named Eagle Scholars, which requires they maintain a 3.75 GPA or higher and be on a team for the entire season. The combination of athletic and academic accolades highlights the dedication of Reinhardt’s student-athletes.

Top awards of the evening include:

  • Hall of Fame awardees: Josephine Reed Barnette, Women’s Basketball, and Jordan Turner, Cross Country and Track and Field
  • Golden Eagles: Taylor Braselton, Softball, and LJ Stegall, Football and Track and Field
  • Coach of the Year: John Snow, Men’s Lacrosse
  • Team of the Year: Men’s Lacrosse

 

As the Team of the Year was named, the audience gave robust applause for the Men’s Lacrosse team. In May, the team won the University’s first-ever national championship in any sport with a 10-5 victory over Keiser University in the NAIA Men's Lacrosse National Invitational in Greenville, South Carolina.

Reinhardt alumnus and vice chair of Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees, Ken White ’61, presented the Hall of Fame awards. President Dr. Kina S. Mallard and Provost Dr. Mark A. Roberts presented the Eagle Scholars awards.

“It’s a wonderful event. It’s always good to encourage one another, and that’s what this celebration does. It honors our student-athletes, who are winners on and off the field,” Mallard said. “I love our Eagles Scholars award, and I love to give praise also to our coaches, the team awardees and parents. It warms your heart to look at the teams sitting together, as well as seeing parents, donors and friends of the University here celebrating our student-athletes.”

Reinhardt Eagles athletics program includes 22 competitive sports teams and numbers more than 525 student-athletes.

Below is a complete list of the inaugural event’s winners:

Female Breakthrough Athlete of the Year

Adrienne Merrilles, Women’s Soccer

Male Breakthrough Athlete of the Year

Jackson Helfrich, Cross Country

Breakthrough Team of the Year

Women’s Basketball

Talon Tough

Eli Dickens (Baseball) suffered from bone marrow edema and still played a vital role to our baseball program throughout his career.

Outstanding Team of Service

Softball completed 634 hours of community service in the 2016-2017 season. As they do every year, the Lady Eagles worked with the Challenger League, R.M. Elementary School and Soldier’s Angels

Hall of Fame Induction No. 1

Josephine Reed Barnette – Women’s Basketball

Female Newcomer of the Year

Rebecca Cheeks, Women’s Basketball

Male Newcomer of the Year

Enrique Zamora, Baseball

Assistant Coach of the Year

Tommy Scott, Football

Highest Female Team GPA

Women’s Soccer

Highest Male Team GPA

Men’s Tennis

Eagle Scholars

120-plus student-athletes with 3.75 GPA or higher and must be on the team all year

Female Silver Eagle

Taylor Weeks, Softball

Male Silver Eagle

Marcus Miller, Football

Best Championship Performance by a Female

Maddie Evans, Softball

Best Championship Performance by a Male

Jeff Mathis, Men’s Lacrosse

Best Championship Performance by a Team

Football’s first NAIA postseason win, beat Southeastern (Fla.), 52-22

Comeback Player of the Year

Tevin McCoy (Football) came back after a two-year hiatus and was a first team all Mid-South Conference performer

Best Game

Baseball 1-0 win over Tennessee Wesleyan

Biggest Upset

Women’s Soccer over No. 3 Keiser (Fla.) in first round of NAIA Tourney

Head Coach of the Year

John Snow, Men’s Lacrosse

Hall of Fame Induction No. 2

Jordan Turner – Cross Country/Track & Field

Record-Breaking Performance – Women’s

Maddie Evans (Softball) – school record 23 game hit streak, seventh best all time in NAIA

Record-Breaking Performance – Men’s

Track & Field team set team record for points scored (194), breaking a 10-year-old record

Women’s Clutch Performance of the Year

Taylor Asher (Women’s Soccer) shutout in goal, facing eight shots in the game, for first-ever NAIA national tournament win for women’s soccer

Men’s Clutch Performance of the Year

Fabio Pereira (Men’s Tennis) Clinching point at No. 1 singles to give men’s tennis third consecutive AAC conference title

Women’s Play of the Year

Allie Hale’s Olympico corner kick goal (Women’s Soccer)

Men’s Play of the Year

LJ Stegall’s insane TD run against Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (Football)

Golden Eagle – Women’s

Taylor Braselton, Softball

Golden Eagle – Men’s

LJ Stegall, Football / Track & Field

Team of the Year

Men’s Lacrosse

mens-lacrosse
Reinhardt University's Men's Lacrosse team earned Team of the Year for their amazing season that ended in the University's first national championship ever. Photo by Jeff Reed

tevin-mccoy

Tevin McCoy earned the Comeback Player of the Year after returning to the football field after a two-year hiatus and was a first-team all Mid-South Conference performer. He is pictured with Athletic Director Bill Popp, Graduate Assistant Arden Fox and Head Athletic Trainer Ashley Wolary. Photo by Jeff Reed

maddie-evans

Maddie Evans earned the Best Championship Performance by a Female for her performance on the Lady Eagles Softball Team. She is pictured with Athletic Director Bill Popp and Graduate Assistant Arden Fox. Photo by Jeff Reed

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