Bulldogs Hold 7th Annual Night of Champions Gala
May 6, 2014
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
The Gala has grown so big the Athletic Department had to move it out of the Satellite Student Union that hosted it for the first six seasons and into the Save Mart Center to make room for not only the 450 student-athletes, but the coaches, staff, BDF members, boosters and guests of the department.
The evening recognized all student-athletes for their academic achievements, athletic accomplishments and community service involvement over the past year.
Headlining the award winners were Derek Carr from football and Meagan McKee from track and field who were named the "Bulldogs of the Year." Carr became the first two-time winner of the award, repeating in consecutive years, while McKee won for the first time after being a finalist last year.
The evening started off with a Red Carpet entrance for the student-athletes before being served dinner. While the student-athletes were eating, the coaches, staff BDF members, boosters and guest were treated to an art auction put on by former Fresno Bee artist Perry Huffman, who donated his Bulldog athletic artwork to the department so that all proceeds would benefit the student-athlete scholarship fund.
"Night of Champions" hosts - Lars Bramer and Jamal Ellis from football along with Kara Concheck from Lacrosse and Marissa Brand from volleyball - kicked the evening off with an opening act followed by the 2013-14 season highlight video.
Before announcing the first award the hosts recognized all student-athletes for winning the Mountain West SAAC Community Service Trophy for the second-straight season. Fresno State tallied nearly 4,000 hours of community service between the months of September and February - the most of any school in the MW.
The first award of the evening, the Director of Athletics' Team Award for community service, went to the Bulldog lacrosse team who put in more than 1,000 hours of service to the San Joaquin Valley.
After recognizing the 190 student-athletes who were selected to the academic all-conference team and the 146 members of the dean's list for hiving a 3.5 GPA or higher, the hosts turned the podium over to Sean Alston from football who told the story of his career-ending injury and how he was able to turn it into a positive ending, not just for him but the team as well. Watch Alston's speech here.
Alston was then honored with the Paul Schechter Courage Award that is presented annually to two outstanding student-athletes who have overcome a physical challenge to become a champion. Alex Furr from women's basketball was the second recipient of the award, as she overcame two different knee injuries to return to the court and become a starter for the Bulldogs who made their seventh-straight NCAA Tournament this season.
Jessica Gaubatz and Jared Webb were both presented with the Dr. Thomas Thaxter Memorial Scholarship that is given to the outstanding senior athletic training student who shows excellence in both academic and clinical work.
The next honors went to the conference team champions during the past year (football, women's basketball and women's tennis).
Student-athletes were then recognized as Individual Fresno State conference champions: Guðrún Brá Björgvinsdóttir (women's golf), Meagan McKee (hammer throw), Breeauna Thompson (400-meter dash) and the men's 4x100 meter relay team of Brennen Davis, Cameron Parker, Devante O'Connor and Christopher Brusenback.
16 NCAA individual participants and three NCAA team participants were also honored along with 53 student-athletes who earned all-conference honors and seven Bulldogs who were named All-Americans.
Brooke Ortiz from softball was then the second student-athlete to give a speech on perseverance. Watch her speech here.
The year, the seventh in a row for the SAAC Spirit Award, was presented to Marcy Levatino from the lacrosse team and Michael Jamieson from the track & field team.
The Harold Haak Memorable Moment Award recognized the best singular highlights or performances of the year, which honored Taylor Thompson's game winning shot against Utah State and the football team's victory in the Mountain West championship game.
Fresno State closed the evening by honoring its senior class and presenting them with a Fresno State Athletics sash for the upcoming Commencement Ceremony on May 17.