2016 Senior Athlete Awards

Every year, the Saint Mary's College Athletic Department hosts an awards ceremony honoring the senior athletes who have been a part of the Department over the past years. In addition to each senior athlete receiving a watch to commemorate their time spent participating in Belles' Athletics, a select few seniors are recognized with special awards, including the Don Miller Belles Spirit Award and the Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Athlete Award.

Listed are the 2016 honorees. To learn more about the award and read the citation of each award winner, please click on the individual's name.

Senior Athletic Award Recipients

 

Varsity Club Appreciation Award - Jim Hughes
Improvement Award - Sarah Callis
Competitive Spirit Award - Angela Dainelli
Impact Player Award - Katie Hecklinski
Sportsmanship Award - Katie Zielinski
Leadership Award - Allie Danhof
Athletic Integrity Award - Andrea Fetters
Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Eleni Shea
Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Krista Knapke
Don Miller Belles Spirit Award - Maddie Kohler
Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Athlete Award - Jillian Busfield

 

Varsity Club Appreciation Award - Jim Hughes

Presented to a member of the Saint Mary’s community for extraordinary contribution to the Saint Mary’s Department of Athletics.

It started with a stranger walking through the doors of Angela Athletic Facility five years ago. A dad wandered in while his daughter was on a campus visit. He stopped into our offices out of curiosity. He is a “sports guy” and just wanted to learn more about us and our offerings. We had a great conversation and were drawn in by his sincere interest and friendly nature. He was a baseball player in college and played professionally for the Minnesota Twins. He works for Rawlings Sports which keeps him in the world of sports. It was a very pleasant meeting. But after a text from his family asking, “Where are you,” the visit was over, and that was that.

A few weeks later, mysterious packages started showing up from Rawlings Sports. Our softball coach remembered that the really nice dad we had met a few weeks prior worked at Rawlings. Could these be somehow connected to him? It did not take long for our questions to be answered. Our visitor, Jim Hughes, whom we were to find out did not just work for Rawlings Sports, but is the vice president, gave our softball coach a call. “No strings attached”, but he thought maybe he could help us out with a donation of some equipment.

Before opening these boxes, we thought that we had better check in with the Admission Office to make sure that his daughter had been accepted, and that there was no indication that she had planned to participate in varsity sports – just to keep things from being awkward! It was confirmed that there was no interest in sport participation, but Kelsey had not yet been accepted. The Admission Office advised us to NOT open anything until the admission process was complete. This tortured our softball coach, who had to walk past a growing mountain of packages that were arriving on a daily basis.

Well, Kelsey Hughes did get accepted and will now be graduating from Saint Mary’s College in a few weeks. Jim’s support has only grown. He has continued year after year to connect with not only our softball team, but any other team that he could provide equipment or gear for. When he found out we were starting a lacrosse program, he wanted me to connect him to our new lacrosse coach as soon as she was hired. Rawlings sponsored a line of lacrosse equipment that could be helpful for a new program. When we told him that we were thinking about starting a golf outing fundraiser, he jumped on board and became an avid supporter of this fundraising venture of ours. He has signed on every year now as a Presidential level sponsor and has donated countless items to our silent auction.

This kind stranger that walked through our doors five years ago has made such an impact on our athletic department. A chance meeting has developed into a lasting friendship. Jim Hughes has touched our lives through his generosity, humble nature, and sincere kindness. He is truly a giver – “no strings attached”.

It is with great honor that we present our 2016 Varsity Club Appreciation Award for extraordinary dedication and support of Saint Mary's College Athletics to Jim Hughes.

 

Improvement Award - Sarah Callis

Presented in recognition of significant improvement as a student-athlete over a four-year period of time.

Improvement Award - Sarah CallisOne of the best rewards as a coach is to see your athletes transform over the course of their four years. It is pleasing to see that hard work pays off and a player is able to reap the benefits of which they have dedicated so much time and effort into her sport.

Sarah Callis found a way to continually develop into a key member for her team both athletically and academically each year. This student-athlete is just that; a student first and an athlete second. Academically, Sarah has been an NFCA Scholar Athlete for three years, part of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll for three years, and held a perfect 4.0 grade point average for six of her semesters here at Saint Mary’s.

As a player for the softball team, Sarah has been a force to reckon with defensively in left field, has improved her batting average by 100 points, and has been one of the most consistent players Coach Zache has coached. Her coach often refer to her as “textbook” as she does everything by the book mentally and physically.

Defensively and offensively, Sarah has made had some game-changing plays and hits. As a freshman, she made 33 putouts and had a .275 batting average. She worked diligently on dives, knowing her speed, angles, and reads off of the bat. Offensively, she worked on power, her bat path, and discipline at the plate. During the next two years, she increased her putouts averaging 52 a season. Her batting average improved from a .275 to a .371, her hits nearly doubled from 28 as a freshman to 44 as a junior. Her slugging percentage also increased from a .294 to a .429.

The list of improvements could go on and on, but perhaps Sarah’s most striking improvement during her four years is how her confidence has soared. She has led her team by example and has laid the path for underclasswomen to follow.

A native of Pittsboro, Indiana, Sarah is the daughter of Rex and Carol Callis. She will graduate with a degree in elementary education with minors in music and American history. We are proud to present the 2016 Improvement Award to Sarah Callis.

 

Competitive Spirit Award - Angela Dainelli

Presented in recognition of demonstrated passion and love for the sport through work ethic, desire to succeed, and commitment to teammates.

Competitive Spirit Award - Angela DainelliThis year’s recipient no doubt has passion for her sport and her teammates. She shows her love of her sport in every swing, drill, dive, throw, and drop of sweat on the softball diamond. This athlete is the type of player that every coach would love to have during their coaching career. You never question her work ethic, attitude, or accountability. She is hungry for feedback to become a better competitor. She always has a smile on their face no matter what adversities she has encountered. She would climb mountains and run through walls if you asked her to. Angela Dainelli is this athlete, and she has shown incredible determination and heart for the Saint Mary’s softball team.

She leads her team with her upbeat and determined mindset, and she has been a defensive spark plug on the field. Angie’s amazing plays were countless, and a ball never got past her without a cloud of dust flying after a diving attempt to stop it. Defense often gets overlooked in sports. But no area of the game gets overlooked by Angie. Each pitch, each ball, each opportunity is just as important as the next.

Over the past four years, Angie has contributed to more than 250 outs on defense at second base. She boasts better than a .950 fielding percentage and has had a knack for coming up with a big defensive out, just when the team has needed it most. Her first collegiate home run shifted the momentum as the Belles came back to defeat Adrian during her sophomore season. She has continuously put the team first, even when it means using any body part to stop the ball; and it has led to great success beyond the box scores for Angie and the Belles.

Angie’s hard work has extended beyond the softball field. She has been an MIAA Academic Honor Roll honoree and was named as an NFCA Scholar Athlete. She has further demonstrated her commitment to her teammates by serving them as a softball representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Angie is the daughter of Rick and Anne Dainelli. She will graduate this spring with a degree in both Spanish and communicative sciences and disorders. She will then pursue a master's degree at Saint Mary’s in speech language pathology in hopes of becoming a bilingual speech pathologist. It is with great honor that we recognize Angela Dainelli with the 2016 Competitive Spirit Award.

 

Impact Player Award - Katie Hecklinski

Presented to the senior athlete who elevates the intensity and focus of a game.

To Coach Van De Walle, IMPACT means:

Intelligent. Motivated. Personable. Attentive. Competitive and Coachable. Team Player.

Those who have watched Katie Hecklinski play for the past four years know that they saw an IMPACT player for the Belles Volleyball Team.

Having been in the coaching profession nearly 30 years, there have only been a handful of players that her coach would put in the same category as Katie. The reason she said that is not only based on her athletic prowess; it is based on who she is and how she does it on a daily basis.

This year, Katie’s impact on the court could not have been more evident. She played in all 99 sets of the season, led the team with 367 kills, was second in the MIAA for kills per set, and was second on the team in digs with 384. She posted 15 double-doubles and had at least 10 kills in 20 of the team’s 28 matches. She recorded a career-high 25 kills against Trine and put up a season high 30 digs against Albion. In that same match against Albion, Katie notched her 1,000th kill becoming only the seventh Belle in school history to achieve that milestone. She was named to the Millikin University All-Tournament Team and was an MIAA Player of the Week. She capped off her stellar senior season by being named First Team All- MIAA, making her the sixth volleyball player to be named First Team.

Over her career, Katie played in 413 sets and 111 matches. She has been named the MIAA Player of the Week twice and was a two-time All-MIAA honoree. She finished her career fifth all-time in digs with 1,482 and sixth all-time in kills with 1,184. Without a doubt, she made her presence known and helped the Belles regain their spot as a force to be reckoned with in the conference.

What a force Katie has been. You cannot help but notice her. On the court, she makes you believe that flying is possible. Off the court, that Hecklinski smile draws you in and radiates her passion for life. She celebrates her team’s success with more enthusiasm than her own. Katie is the player that every coach hopes and prays that they will have at least once in their career.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Katie is the daughter of Bruce and Sue Hecklinski. She will graduate in May with a degree in communicative sciences and disorders. She has been accepted to and will enroll in the Saint Mary’s speech language pathology master’s degree program. We are proud to present the 2016 Impact Award to Katie Hecklinski.

 

Sportsmanship Award - Katie Zielinski

Presented for sportsmanship, fellowship, and special contributions to the Department of Athletics.

Sportsmanship Award - Katie ZielinskiSports are not just about winning or losing; they teach us many things - how to play by the rules, how to respect your teammates and opponents, and most importantly, how to respect the game you are playing. Golf is a game that is very unique. It is the only sport where you must call a penalty on yourself, regardless if anyone else witnessed it or not. It is a game about honesty that is rich in tradition and founded on the main principles of sportsmanship.

When you think of someone with great sportsmanship, you think of someone who is encouraging to teammates, and is also wishing the best for competitors; someone who is always working hard to get better and is always pushing others to do the same; and someone who believes they are blessed to have the opportunity to play and gives back in whatever way possible. Katie Zielinski not only demonstrates the act of sportsmanship in golf, but shows fellowship to her teammates, other athletes, and beyond.

Sports have always been a passion for Katie and golf was one that she excelled at. Katie would say she is a type A personality and is always looking to succeed in whatever she does; however, her definition of success is not all about personal accomplishments. It’s bigger than just her. Katie takes much pride when others achieve their own goals. This was just one of the reasons Katie served as captain this season. She is like the “mother bear” of this team. She leads not only on the course with one of the top scoring averages, but also academically, with a 3.87 GPA. Every year she makes it her personal goal to make sure the incoming first year’s feel a part of something special. She brainstorms and organizes new ways to bring our team closer together, and those efforts have changed the social culture of this program. She always congratulates a fellow teammate or competitor in a great round. She comforts a fellow teammate when they may not have played their best. She leads our team to thank the host school for their efforts in running a great event and always congratulates the winning team.

Katie’s reach extends beyond the golf team. Since day one she has been involved with many different organizations around campus that support, mentor, and connect everyone. As soon as she became a Belle, Katie wanted to find a way to help other student-athletes transition to college life. She helped implement the Athletic Department’s Big Sister Program and has been a “Big” since its conception two years ago. With her passion to mentor, she is also part of the peer mentoring program for transfer students, the College Academy of Tutors program, and the budgeting committee for the Student Activities Board. Katie’s entire philosophy in life is not about her personal success; it is about how she can help others succeed. Her positivity and sportsmanship are things that have made a lasting impression on our program, her peers, and those around her.

A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, Katie is the daughter of Mary Zielinski. She will graduate with a degree in elementary education with a concentration in reading. We are proud to present the 2016 Sportsmanship Award to Katie Zielinski.

 

Leadership Award - Allie Danhof

Presented for outstanding leadership, commitment, and dedication.

Leadership Award - Allie DanhofBeing a leader is no easy business. Individuals may often want the glory of being a leader or team captain, but shrug the responsibilities that are tough and can make leading messy. Leaders are not always liked, but great leaders are always respected because they are making the decisions to improve themselves and their team. As Ray Kroc said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standard they set for themselves.” Allie Danhof has set high standards, and those standards have resulted in benefits for those she has led.

As a leader, Allie was able to make significant contributions to the cross country team as a first year. Mature beyond her years, Allie quickly connected with the upper classwomen and was mentored by some very strong leaders. She was then selected to be a captain both her junior and senior years. She has worked both individually and with our leadership group to help establish our team culture and expectations. As a leader of our program, she is held to the highest of these standards.

Allie has demonstrated the ability to lead her teammates both vocally and through her tenacious work ethic. She has trained with the lead pack every year and has been an integral scorer for the team on several occasions. In practice, Allie can be heard motivating her teammates along through tough interval sessions, and congratulating everyone as they finish. She has been instrumental in helping develop our younger athletes by sharing the responsibility of leading workouts and giving them opportunities to build their confidence.

After suffering a season ending injury her sophomore season, Allie demonstrated the strength and will of a veteran. She was a champion of her own recovery. Her dedication to treatment was an example to her teammates on persistence and the benefits of a positive attitude. Allie came back her junior year and scored throughout the season while also competing at the NCAA Regional meet.

Outside of cross country, Allie has found several avenues to lead by way of helping others and gaining a greater sense of her community. Through the education department, she has been a part of the Education Club and has participated in the CAT Pen Pal program. Within athletics, she has been a member on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was selected to be part of the Big Sisters program that mentors first year athletes. She has most recently been appointed the Student Trustee for the Board of Trustees and has been entrusted with the responsibility of representing her peers at the highest level.

Academically, Allie is a Presidential Merit Scholarship recipient and has been named to the Dean’s List in each of the past seven semesters. Additionally, she has achieved a perfect 4.0 during three of her semesters and currently carries a 4.0 GPA in her major.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Allie is the daughter of Russ and Jayne Danhof. She will graduate with a degree in elementary education with a minor in mathematics. We are proud to present the 2016 Leadership Award to Allie Danhof.

 

Athletic Integrity Award - Andrea Fetters

Presented to the senior athlete who best exemplifies honesty and respect for herself, her teammates and opponents, and the game itself.

Athletic Integrity Award - Andrea FettersDefined, integrity is the “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” Recently in a tennis match at the Australian Open, an American player, Jack Sock, recommended to his opponent to challenge a bad call by the umpires. Ultimately, that call was overturned and did not favor Jack as the point went against him. This was a great display of integrity.

Andrea Fetters has displayed integrity, honesty and respect throughout her playing career at Saint Mary’s. She transferred to Saint Mary’s as a sophomore and did not play collegiate tennis prior to her arrival. After joining the team, it did not take long for Andrea to be a big contributor to the program. She was placed in a lower bracket of the opening fall MIAA tournament in her first competition. With great determination and hustle, she won four consecutive matches to win her flight. The coaches knew from that moment, they had a tough competitor and someone who would work extremely hard for the Belles.

Andrea got off to a great start her first year by winning 32 matches, and she always played with great hustle and determination to win. Andrea worked her way up to playing the #1 singles position her junior year. While the level of play for Andrea got tougher, she never changed the way she handled herself in the competitive arena. In tennis, calls are made on the honor system whether or not a ball is in or out of bounds. If a call was ever close, Andrea always gave her opponent the benefit of the doubt. She would win or lose based on her performance, not judgement.

In one match her junior year, while down match point in competition, Andrea hit a close shot in the line that was called out by her opponent. Andrea was clearly disappointed in defeat, but she walked to the net to shake her opponent’s hand without showing any animosity. Although she knew a bad call was made, she handled the situation with class.

Her integrity extends beyond competition. In practice, she has set the tone with her work ethic and dedication to her team. She has always taken the high road.

A native of West Milton, Ohio, Andrea is the daughter of Doug and Fran Fetters. She will graduate with a degree in ecology, evolution, and environmental biology along with minors in both chemistry and English literature. She plans to pursue her PhD in ecology and evolution at the University of Pittsburgh. We are proud to present the 2016 Athletic Integrity Award to Andrea Fetters.

 

Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Eleni Shea

Presented for outstanding academic and athletic achievement and future promise as a Saint Mary's graduate.

Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Eleni SheaMary Ellen Smith served as our Dean of Students from 1986 – 1992. She was a dedicated leader, educator and avid supporter of all students during her tenure at Saint Mary's. She was especially supportive of the athletic department and of all student-athletes. Every student-athlete knew Mary Ellen. She was at our home events, award banquets, fundraisers, and would even assist in driving our teams to away contests. Through Mary Ellen’s leadership and commitment to improving the athletic experience, she advocated for and oversaw the transition to our move from NAIA to NCAA Division III. Mary Ellen Smith passed away suddenly on June 1, 2015. To ensure that her contributions to Saint Mary’s College Athletics will not be forgotten, we have re-named our academic and athletic achievement award in her honor.

As a coach, we spend hours in game preparation with scouting, film breakdown, play analysis, and so on. In basketball, coaches look at the strengths and weaknesses of individual players, team tendencies and styles and try to pre-determine match ups. And then you find that one kid who you are not sure how to prepare for—those are the silent killers. They are versatile on the court at different positions. They have many athletic weapons on offense that make them hard to defend. They always have a way to beat you—no matter how hard you prepare. Eleni Shea has been the silent killer for Saint Mary’s the last four seasons.

Eleni started her career as a post player working the paint area at both ends of the court. Due to her speed and shooting range, Eleni made the switch to the guard position as a junior---and that is when coaches discovered her as a silent killer. Standing 6’0 tall and playing on the perimeter, most teams did not have the ability to match up with her defensively. If they brought out a post player to defend her—Eleni used her speed to drive by them. If teams put a guard on her, a play would be called to isolate Eleni in the paint where she could use her height advantage against the opponent.

As a four year starter for Saint Mary’s, Eleni became a 1,000 point scorer. She leaves the court as the 11th All-time leading scorer with 1,050 points and eighth in career rebounds with 579 rebounds. This two-time captain was chosen as a Saint Mary’s Athlete of the Week six times in her career.

Eleni is also leaving her mark in the classroom. She has made the MIAA Honor Roll four times and will be named to the Saint Mary’s College Dean’s List for all eight of her semesters. Eleni is involved with the Spanish Club, Social Work Club, Belles for Africa, National Student Speech Language Hearing Association Club, the Athletic Department's Big Sisters program, and also participated in European Summer Study Abroad Program in 2014. After going abroad once, Eleni took advantage of another opportunity and spent last summer in the Uganda Practicum Program for five weeks. She did all of this while maintaining a 3.91 cumulative grade point average and a perfect 4.0 in her major.

A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Eleni is the daughter of Tonya and Jim Shea. She will graduate with a degree in communicative sciences and disorders with minors in Spanish and social work. She will continue her education by pursuing her master’s degree in communication disorders at Marshall University. We are proud to present the 2016 Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award to Eleni Shea.

 

Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Krista Knapke

Presented for outstanding academic and athletic achievement and future promise as a Saint Mary's graduate.

Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Krista KnapkeMary Ellen Smith served as our Dean of Students from 1986 – 1992. She was a dedicated leader, educator and avid supporter of all students during her tenure at Saint Mary's. She was especially supportive of the athletic department and of all student-athletes. Every student-athlete knew Mary Ellen. She was at our home events, award banquets, fundraisers, and would even assist in driving our teams to away contests. Through Mary Ellen’s leadership and commitment to improving the athletic experience, she advocated for and oversaw the transition to our move from NAIA to NCAA Division III. Mary Ellen Smith passed away suddenly on June 1, 2015. To ensure that her contributions to Saint Mary’s College Athletics will not be forgotten, we have re-named our academic and athletic achievement award in her honor.

They say college will be the best four years of your life - some extend that to five years - but rarely does anyone ever shorten their stay on campus. Krista Knapke graduated from Saint Mary’s in three and a half years and blazed the trails she took to get there.

A perfect 4.0 in her major, and a 3.89 GPA overall, Krista earned her degree in seven semesters. In her time, Krista found balance between basketball and her grades to be involved in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association as a committee member and national student member; an Early Childhood Development Center volunteer; a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, Vice President, and President; and an Angela Athletic Facility worker. Since January, Krista has been employed by the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation in the Exceptional Education Division.

Krista has spent her summers as a student intern at The Speech Garden Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina, working with children with speech and language goals. She also took part in the summer study abroad program in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Paris in 2014.

A two-time captain on the basketball team, Krista certainly left her mark on the court. She leaves Saint Mary’s as a four year starter, a 1,000 point scorer, and a Second Team All-MIAA honoree. In the record book, Krista is fourth on the list with assists in a single game with ten, fourth in career rebounds with 689 and tenth in career points with 1,064. She has made the MIAA Academic Honor Roll four times, Saint Mary’s Dean’s List seven times, and has been a Saint Mary’s Athlete of the Week seven times in her career. Just this week, she was recognized with the Gerontology Achievement Award.

A native of Clayton, Ohio, Krista is the daughter of Dan and Susan Knapke. She has already earned her degree in communicative sciences and disorders with a minor in gerontology. She will continue her education by pursuing her master’s degree in speech pathology at Miami University in Ohio. We are proud to present the 2016 Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award to Krista Knapke.

 

Don Miller Belles Spirit Award - Maddie Kohler

Presented to the person who best exemplifies the winning spirit of the College's athletic programs.

Don Miller Belles Spirit Award - Maddie KohlerIn 2008, the Belles Varsity Club Award was re-named the Don Miller Belles Spirit Award in his honor as a longtime math professor and assistant softball coach for the Belles. His life was taken by pancreatic cancer, but his legacy lives on through the many lives he touched both in the classroom and on the softball field. Coach Miller displayed true dedication and passion for Saint Mary's College and her Belles. This award is presented each year at the Senior Athlete Awards Reception to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the winning spirit of the athletic program.

This year’s recipient has spunk. Before she even touched the basketball, you saw her explode with energy as her name was called by our announcer. She ran through the tunnel of teammates, connecting with each and every one of them slapping hands and bounding up to give a taller teammate a jumping high five. From the start, Maddie Kohler’s winning spirit could not be missed.

When wins were scarce, it would have been easy for athletes give in to excuses or look to blame. Those less dedicated lose their fire and do not care. There was no room for that in Maddie’s house. This two-year captain’s presence on the team set the tone. She has the heart of a winner and was committed to play like one every time she stepped onto the court.

Her senior year was no exception. Maddie set single-season career highs in points, rebounds, and minutes played while also tying her single season mark for assists. In this year alone, she had single-game career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Maddie was also first in charges drawn. OK, that is not a real stat – but, if it were, Maddie would have the record. She was a fearless competitor. In fact, her first year in the program, she took an exceptionally hard charge that resulted in a concussion. This kept her out of play, but it did not keep her out of the gym. She showed up daily to be with her teammates, donning the accessory that she became identified with that year – dark sunglasses. You could knock Maddie Kohler down, but you could not keep her down.

She has been a role model for her teammates living out the NCAA Division III model of full immersion into her college experience. Maddie has been a member of the Alumnae Association Board, and the Student Government Association throughout her time here. Maddie’s first experience with SGA was during her sophomore when she was elected a class senator – a position she would hold again her junior year. This year, she served Saint Mary’s as the student body vice president. Maddie participated in the European Summer Study Program in 2014 while traveling to London, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Paris. She has balanced all of this while also thriving in the classroom. She has been named to both the Dean’s List and MIAA Academic Honor Roll multiple times throughout her four years.

A native of North Wales, Pennsylvania, Maddie is the daughter of Jeff and Maureen Kohler. She will graduate from Saint Mary’s with a degree in business administration with a focus in marketing and international business. Maddie will move to Chicago after graduation to begin her career with Pepsi early this summer. At this time, we ask the Miller Family to help us present the 2016 Don Miller Belles Spirit Award to Maddie Kohler.

 

Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Athlete Award - Jillian Busfield

Presented to the outstanding senior athlete.

Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Award - Jillian BusfieldIn 2000, the athletic department named the Outstanding Senior Athlete Award in honor of Coach Marvin Wood. Coach Wood was an outstanding former basketball coach who finished out his career at Saint Mary’s College. His commitment, passion, and love for his athletes through the years inspired the nationally acclaimed movie, “Hoosiers” which highlighted the Cinderella basketball success story early in his coaching career. Coach Marvin Wood’s former athletes describe him as a beautiful person inside and out. They say his passion, faith, dedication and commitment to his players made their athletic experience at Saint Mary’s a truly fulfilling and lifelong treasure for each of them. It is with these thoughts in mind that we honor you, our outstanding senior athlete.

Coach Wood embodied positive leadership, passion for his sport, and love for his athletes. He valued players with a strong work ethic; players that excel not only in their sport but, also in the classroom; players that make their teammates better through the example they set. This year’s recipient is the type of player that Coach Wood would have been proud of!

Whether she is looked to for a big hit offensively or to take control defensively, she handles every aspect with grace and determination. Coach Zache has had the great pleasure of working with this young woman the past three years, and she was honored to present this award to Jillian Busfield.

Not only does Jillian lead in the record books, but she has blossomed into a great leader. Most of her teammates would agree that she is passionate about softball, but even more importantly, she is passionate about the success of her teammates. This is why she has been so successful on the field. Jillian believes in her ability and the abilities of those around her. She has a tremendous heart and an enormous amount of athleticism and dedication. To accomplish all she has on the field while balancing clinicals, labs, and 18-hour shifts at the hospital while working toward her nursing degree further adds to all Jillian has achieved.

In her freshman year, she blasted her way on the scene by taking over the single-season home run record. This was a sign of things to come. Jillian’s name can be found across our record book. She is the all-time home run record holder. She is first and fourth in home runs in a season. She holds the third-highest number of runs batted in for a single season. She is listed second in career RBIs. A three time all-conference honoree, Jillian has also been named all-region twice during her career. It is no wonder opponents have intentionally walked her ten times over the past four years.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Jillian is the daughter of Howard and Janet Busfield. She will graduate with a degree in nursing. At this time, we would like to ask Mary Lou Wood to join me in presenting the 2016 Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Athlete Award to Jillian Busfield.