Panthers Honor Finest Student-Athletes At Golden Panther Awards Ceremony
April 29, 2012
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee honored its student-athletes during the Golden Panther Awards Sunday night in the Wisconsin Room of the UWM Union.
The evening highlighted the incredible academic and athletic achievements of the nearly 300 Panther student-athletes.
Track and cross country standout Kristi Schuette and swimmer Sam Keele claimed the Panther Senior Athlete Award, given to the two seniors who have best combined academic, athletic and community excellence. Swimmer Brady Huemann and women's soccer star Sarah Hagen were named the UWM Army ROTC Student-Athletes of the Year, presented to the two standout Panther athletes across all classes from the 2011-12 school year. Plus, Heidi Niespodzany of women's swimming/diving was honored with the James Wright Special Recognition Award. Bios of all of these award-winners are below.
Other honorees included baseball player Sam Koenig and women's basketball's Sammy Theut, who were recognized for having the highest grade-point averages in the department. The individuals with the highest GPA on each team were also recognized, as were the individuals with the top-10 GPA's in the department. The highest team grade-point average in the department belongs to women's soccer, a group honored with the Raise Your Sights Award.
Meanwhile, men's basketball and women's volleyball won the Horizon League Community Service Award while women's soccer captured the Horizon League Sportsmanship Award
This year's senior class was also recognized during the ceremony. Over the last four years, UWM teams have claimed 32 Horizon League titles and made 10 NCAA appearances. Individuals have been named All-American seven times and Academic All-American four times. Plus, Milwaukee has had 14 Horizon League Athletes of the Year and 13 Academic All-Region honorees over the last four years. Among the most notable teams in that time, women's soccer and volleyball have combined for a 145-57-7 overall record, including an 83-13 mark in league play. Meanwhile, the swimming and diving and track teams have combined for 17 team league championships over the last four years.
The event also included a number of other awards created and voted on by student-athletes.
Ben Crogan from track and field and Emily McClellan from swimming and diving won the Record-Breaking Performance Award. Durell Busby of track and Sarah Hagen of women's soccer claimed the Standout Performance Award, while Caleb Sandvold from swimming and diving and Shelby Schaal from women's track and field captured the Comeback of the Year Award.
The men's swimming and diving team, women's volleyball team and women's swimming and diving team were each recognized in the Best Upset category, while the women's tennis team captured the Michael Poll Spirit Award. Plus, the men's swimming and diving team and the women's soccer team were winners of the Best Team Moment Award.
The Newcomers of the Year from the department were Aaron Dillon of track and field and Kayla Price from women's volleyball, while the Perseverance Award went to Paul Hoenecke of baseball and Makenzie Gillaspie of women's soccer.
The departmental coach of the year honor went to Susie Johnson of women's volleyball, while men's swimming and diving was voted the department's team of the year.
UWM's Student-Athlete Advisory Council was also recognized for its extraordinary efforts throughout the 2011-12 school year. The group has spearheaded a record number of community service opportunities and other special events for and involving Panther student-athletes. This year's SAAC Executive Board includes President Kristi Schuette (Track & Field /Cross Country), Vice President Chris Jenkyns (Swimming & Diving), Secretary John Shakon (Men's Soccer), Treasurer Tanaiya Fisher (Track and Field/Cross Country) and Executive Assistant Calanetta Burrows (Track & Field).
Major Honoree Biographies
Brady Huemann helped the Panther men's swimming and diving team to three-straight Horizon League titles. At this year's league meet, he shattered the school record in the 200 breaststroke and just missed first-team all-league honors. He also crushed his own school record in the 100 breaststroke to take all-league second-team honors. Plus, Heumann was part of a pair of medley relay teams that claimed second at the championships. He is also a three-time Academic All-League honoree.
Kristi Schuette has been a part of four-straight indoor Horizon League Championship teams and the last two outdoor Horizon League champions. In track, Schuette was part of the league outdoor 4x400 relay championship team a year ago and claimed a spot on the all-league second team. She is also a part of school records in the distance medley relay both indoor and outdoor. Then, in cross country, she was the top finisher for UWM in all but one meet this season. The senior is also a regular on the UWM Dean's List and the Horizon League Honor Roll and was has been and Academic All-League honoree each of the last two year. Schuette is president of UWM's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
Sam Keele was an All-Horizon League performer each of the last two seasons, setting a school record in the 200IM at the Horizon League Championships this past year. He also had three top-eight finishes at the league meet in each of the two previous seasons and also set a school record in the 200 breaststroke this season. His efforts have helped the Panthers to the last three Horizon League titles. In the classroom, Keele is a three-time Academic All League honoree and is a regular on the Horizon League Honor Roll and the UWM Dean's List. He is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and volunteers in a wide variety of activities while also serving as a team captain this past year.
Heidi Niespodzany won a pair of races at this year's Horizon League Championships in leading the Panthers to their first league title since 2001. The senior won the individual title in both the 100 and 200 freestyle after claiming second-team all-league honors in the 200 freestyle the previous year. She was also a member of the second-team all-league 200 medley relay team in 2011, as well as Milwaukee's school-record 200, 400 and 800 free relay teams at that season's championship meet. The James Wright Special Recognition Award is given by the UWM Athletic Board to a student-athlete who has demonstrated significant commitment and dedication, having faced and overcome adversity, while exemplifying the spirit and integrity of athletic success and academic achievement.