Dark suits and colorful gowns filled the banquet room floor as athletes, coaches and faculty gathered to celebrate the collective accomplishment of the 2016-2017 athletic year for the University of Dallas Crusaders.
UD athletic director Dick Strockbine began the evening by commenting on the participation level of students in the various Dallas athletic programs. Over the course of the year, 262 athletes, including 138 men and 124 women, competed in UD’s 15 teams. This equaled 18.6 percent of all UD students.
“Forty-eight school records were set, broken or tied this year,” Strockbine said.
UD coaches then proceeded to make their remarks and hand out team awards. MVPs included: sophomore Thomas Hogan and senior Joey Danaher for men’s and women’s cross country, junior Luke Schwarz and senior Cascade Mayer for men’s and women’s soccer, senior Jessie Koster for volleyball, senior Victor Garate and junior Michelle DeCoud for men’s and women’s basketball, senior Ryan Hammonds for baseball, freshmen Christian Lopez and Lizz Winkler for men’s and women’s lacrosse, and seniors Paolo Salazar and Katie McIntyre for men’s and women’s track and field.
Fourteen athletes were named as All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (All-SCAC) members: two First Team, eight Second Team and four honorable mentions. Among these athletes was senior volleyball player and libero Jessie Koster, who was the most decorated athlete of the night. Besides team MVP and Second Team All-SCAC, Koster also won College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District, American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) West All-Region Honorable Mention, SCAC Backrow Player of the Year, United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) All-American Honorable Mention and USCAA All-Academic.
After the coaches were done and all of the awards were given, faculty representative Dr. Thomas Jodziewicz spoke briefly and praised the effort of all those who participated in athletics this year.
Jodziewicz said he was proud of all of those who represented the university this year, commenting that: “I think it starts at the top with the athletic director, Coach Dick.”
He then proceeded to handed out the 2017 Scholar Athlete of the Year Award. The award is given annually to the letter-winning athlete with the highest GPA. The award was won for the second year in a row by junior soccer player and biochemistry major Trae Hampton.
The final speech of the night was given by university Vice President Dr. John Plotts.
Plotts praised the heart of all the athletes present and the spirit of the evening.
“I think this is the most passionate athletic awards banquet we’ve ever had,” Plotts said.
This comment followed up the enthusiastic applause by players for their coaches — none louder than the baseball team — and athletes for their fellow teammates, their brothers and sisters in blood, sweat and tears.
Plotts continued his praise of all present and ended with a quote by Theodore Roosevelt.
“ ‘It is not the critic that counts, or how strong the man stumbled and fell, or where the doer of deeds could have done better,’ ” Plotts quoted. “ ‘The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause; and if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly; so that he’ll never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’ ”
Several highlights of the year spoke to the truth of this quote.
Koster lead the SCAC and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) third division with 854 digs and a 7.49 digs per game average in the fall, setting the school individual season record with those same marks. She also set the school career record with 2,880 digs and a 6.26 digs per game average.
Teammate Diana Hassink ventured off the court and competed in track and field for the first time ever this spring. The dual-sport athlete broke the school record for the hammer throw with a mark of 119’8,” and won silver in the SCAC Championships in shot put. Her second place throw of 11.71 meters earned her Second Team All-SCAC, and was a mere five centimeters short of tying the school record.
Jade Miller won Co-Player-of-the-Year in SCAC softball, only the second time in program history that an athlete has won an award of its kind. Miller also broke and set the team single-season hits record with 61, and lead the team with a .469 batting average.
Finally, senior Michael Sarrat capped off his UD basketball career by breaking the 1,000 points mark, and classmate Lorenzo Gonzalez made an impressive 39 consecutive free throws in a streak that spanned nine games from January 20 to February 14.
It was a hard year overall for UD athletics, with none of the teams posting winning records. As they look forward to the next year, however, the talent showcased by those 48 school records is a reason for optimism.