May 7, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. - On Monday night at the Satellite Student Union, seniors Remi Boutillier and Kendall VanDine highlighted a special evening as the two "Bulldogs of the Year" during Fresno State Athletics' fifth annual "Night of Champions" Gala.
The "Bulldog of the Year" distinction went to Boutillier and VanDine for their commitment to Fresno State in all areas and set the standard for the true Bulldog experience. These individuals were selected because their athletic accomplishments, academic triumphs and community service work stood above all others.
VanDine became the soccer team's second CoSIDA Academic All-American as a senior. During her four years as a Bulldog, the three-year captain led the team to two conference titles, two NCAA tournament appearances, was named to the All-WAC tournament and Preseason All-WAC teams twice and was a four-time Academic All-WAC award recipient.
Boutillier is ranked No. 26 nationally in singles and he posted a 21-3 record at No. 1 singles this season. He recently was named the WAC Player of the Year and was selected to the WAC All-Tournament Team along with drawing first-team All-WAC honors singles. Boutillier is a three-year veteran of the NCAA Doubles Championship.
The evening recognized all student-athletes for their academic achievements, athletic accomplishments and community service involvement during the 2011-12 academic year.
Justin Cutler, a senior from Tempelton, Calif., spoke to his peers about overcoming bullying growing up and how he used sport to persevere through any challenge. Senior track student-athlete Shanelle Stephens also took the microphone for a reflection about excelling after injury and battling through adversity.
The first award of the evening, the Athletic Director's Community Service Award, went to the Bulldog equestrian team. They headlined the work of all 450 student-athletes who collectively donated more than 1,500 hours of service to the community. The equestrian team alone contributed over 500 hours of service to the San Joaquin Valley.
Fresno State then recognized 189 Fresno State Bulldogs who were active in service events through the valley and achieved a 3.0 grade point average of higher as part of the 25th celebration of national student-athlete day in April.
The next honors went to sophomore Ki-Ki Moore and junior Rufie Fessler, who were honored as the recipients of the George Ilg Memorial Award for their academic and athletic achievement and service to the community.
In the first large group recognition, there were 122 Fresno State student-athletes earning Academic All-WAC distinctions in 2011. Student-athletes had to have been enrolled at school for one year, competed in 50% of their team's events and maintained a 3.0 GPA.
The 2012 Thaxter Award, which honors outstanding members of student-athletic training staff, went to Shannon Murphy, who recently accepted a graduate assistant position at Campbell University in North Carolina that starts this August.
The Bill Kennedy Scholarship, in honor of the former Fresno State team doctor, was presented to Ashley Pollard. She will work with men's tennis and the women's swimming and diving team.
In an annual award for overcoming injury, the athletic training staff presented the Paul Schechter Courage Award to softball's Brooke Ortiz, who suffered an injury to the head during the 2011 WAC Tournament and returned to the field just days later wearing a protective mask for the NCAA Regional.
During the second big set of awards, 259 student-athletes were honored for having a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher with 205 also selected to the 2011 Dean's List (3.5 grade point average or better). There were 40 student-athletes on the President's List for Fall 2011 and 18 hold perfect cumulative GPAs.
The next honors went to the Western Athletic Conference team champions during the past year (2011 Baseball, and 2012 Women's Basketball and Men's Tennis).
Four track student-athletes were then recognized as Individual Fresno State WAC Champions: Meagan McKee (indoor shot put and weight throw), Hannah Prigge (platform diving), J'Quyra Moncur-Blue (outdoor shot put), and Justin Lovingood (outdoor triple jump).
The Harold Haak Memorable Moment Award recognized the best singular highlights or performances of the year, which honored the lacrosse program's first win and Derek Carr's touchdown/Superman leap on the road against then-No. 10 Nebraska.
Fresno State closed the evening by honoring its senior class with scores graduating at the university's upcoming Commencement Ceremony on May 19.
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- The annual event served as the largest awards ceremony to honor the collective achievements by Fresno State student-athletes.