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Alabama players earn academic honors

Three Alabama players were recognized with Academic All-American honors. The official release is below (courtesy of UA Media Relations):

Alabama Trio Earns Academic All-American Honors; Hoffman Named Academic All-American of the Year
A trio of University of Alabama student-athletes were named to the Capital One Academic All-America Women’s At-Large Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, which was announced Thursday. In addition, senior gymnast Kayla Hoffman was named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year.

Hoffman and junior golfer Brooke Pancake were named to the first team, while junior tennis player Courtney McLane was named to the second team.

“We’re extremely proud to have all three of our nominees earn a place on the Women’s Academic All-America At-Large Team,” UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore said. “Kayla, Brooke and Courtney are perfect examples of what can be accomplished through hard work, dedication and drive.”

Alabama is the only school in the nation to have two student-athletes on the 15-member first team and three on the overall list. The Capital One Academic All-America Women’s At-Large Team includes student-athletes from 13 sports – bowling, rowing, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, swimming and diving, tennis and water polo.

“The fact that Alabama was the only school in the nation to put two women on the first team and that Kayla was named the Academic All-American of the Year is a testament to the importance our coaches and student-athletes place on academics and the support system and resources that Jon Dever and the staff of the Bill Battle Academic Center put at their disposal,” Moore said.

Hoffman is the third Crimson Tide athlete to be named Academic All-American of the Year, joining quarterback Greg McElroy, who earned the honor in the fall, and gymnast Stephanie Kite, who became the first UA athlete to earn the accolade in 2004.

Hoffman, captain of Alabama’s 2011 NCAA, NCAA Regional and Southeastern Conference Championship teams and a five-time All-American, carries a 4.0 grade point average in human development and family studies. A native of Union, N.J., she is the 2011 Honda Award winner, which denotes the national collegiate gymnast of the year. Hoffman is the 2011 SEC and NCAA Central Region Gymnast of the Year and the SEC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She has also earned both SEC and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships.

“Kayla continues to reap the rewards of an incredible career,” UA gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson said. “To earn a place on the Academic All-America At-Large Team is such a wonderful honor in itself, but to be named the Academic All-American of the Year is a truly awesome recognition of the all-around excellence that Kayla brought to every aspect of her collegiate career.”

A two-time All-American, Pancake, who helped lead Alabama to another top-eight finish at this year’s NCAA Championship, earned the 2010 NCAA Elite 88 Award, given annually to the student-athlete with the highest GPA at each NCAA Championship. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native is a two-time SEC Women’s Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a three-time All-SEC golfer. She carries a 4.0 GPA while majoring in marketing.

“Brooke’s selection as a first-team Academic All-American is indeed an honor for her, and for our golf program,” UA women’s golf coach Mic Potter said. “I can’t say enough about Brooke’s dedication to excellence in both her academic life, and her sport of golf.”

McLane, the SEC Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earned her undergraduate degree in management in three years while boasting a 4.0 GPA. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native was twice, named to the All-SEC Second Team. She and doubles partner, Alexa Guarachi advanced to the NCAA Doubles Championships for the second consecutive season last month.

“Courtney has proven excellence in the academic arena,” UA women’s tennis coach Jenny Mainz said. “She is the consummate student-athlete and continues to strive for greatness as she graduated in three years with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.”

To this point in the 2010-11 academic year, 16 Alabama student-athletes have earned a place on Academic All-District IV teams. Seven of those, Hoffman, Pancake, McElroy, McLane, softball player Kayla Braud, swimmer Kyle Weeks and football player Barrett Jones, have earned Academic All-American honors. With one Academic All-America team left to be announced, track and field which will be announced next week, the Tide’s total already matches the school record set last year.

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