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UA Honors Academic and Community Outreach

(UA) TUSCALOOSA—The University of Alabama Athletics Department hosted its annual Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Awards Banquet Monday night in “The Zone” located in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Long-time Crimson Tide personality Tom Roberts served as the night’s master of ceremonies.

The women’s tennis team and men’s golf team were honored as the teams with the highest grade point averages for the 2007-08 academic year. Women’s tennis posted a 3.51 while men’s golf earned a 3.21 GPA.

For the second year in a row, the men’s golf team, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation on the links, earned the award for the most outreach hours of any men’s team, volunteering with “Read Across America”, speaking to elementary and middle school students about the importance of “Saying No to Drugs” during Red Ribbon Week, and as after-school tutors at University Place Elementary School.

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On the women’s side, the rowing team garnered the most outreach hours, volunteering on a regular basis at an Autism Carnival, a summer camp for mentally challenged youths, the Puppy Foundation Fundraiser, and the Children’s Hands on Museum in Tuscaloosa. The rowers participated in more than 1,000 hours during the school year.

Individually, six student-athletes who contributed in many ways to the community on behalf of the Tide’s LifeSkills program throughout their collegiate career were recognized during the banquet: Amy Alison (rowing), Antoine Caldwell (football), Jessie Deegan (soccer), Ali Sharrief (football), Katie Tippey (rowing), and Stewart Whitt (men’s golf).

Senior softball player Jordan Praytor and senior golfer Joseph Sykora were named the winners of the Paul W. Bryant Award, given annually to UA’s top male and female student-athlete. The Paul W. Bryant Student-Athlete Award, created by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association in 1985, publicly recognizes the outstanding achievements of Crimson Tide student-athletes in the classroom, in athletic endeavors and in the community.

Praytor, a double major in Biology and Spanish, will graduate in the fall.  She is a Lowes’s Senior CLASS Award Nominee, a member of Blue Key Society, XXXI, the Anderson Society, and the University Honors Program.  She is also a member of the SEC Honor Roll, the recipient of the Woodrow Alvin Davis Family Student-Athlete Award and a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Sykora graduated with a degree in Accounting in May of 2007, and is working on a graduate degree.  The recipient of the 2008 SEC Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship, Sykora is the 2006, 2007 and 2008 SEC Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a 2007 CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American.  Sykora won the Topy Cup held in Japan in the fall and played an integral part of the Tide’s first SEC Men’s Golf Championship in 29 years.  He is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

The other finalists for the Bryant Student-Athlete Award were also recognized. On the women’s side finalists included junior Camilla Blands (women’s basketball), freshman Haley Moody (women’s cross country), junior Laura Goodwin (women’s golf), sophomore Kassi Price (gymnastics), junior Stacey Ogle (rowing), senior Jordan O’Banion (soccer), senior Erin Sparks (women’s swimming and diving), junior Shelley Godwin (women’s tennis), senior Julia Hicks (women’s track and field) and senior Megan Hudson (volleyball).

On the men’s side, the finalists were senior Will Stroup (baseball), freshman Justin Knox (men’s basketball), senior Matt Collins (football), senior Austin Shirey (men’s swimming and diving), junior Mathieu Thibadeaux (men’s tennis), and senior Grant Stone (men’s track and field).

Student-athletes who were named to campus and national honor societies this year and those named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll were also honored during the banquet. Almost 200 student-athletes honored during Honors Week by their induction into honoraries and other organizations.

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