May 4, 2011
BEAUMONT - Baseball player Blake Ford was named the Male Senior Athlete of the Year, while tennis player Mariaryeni Gutierrez and basketball player Jenna Plumley shared Female Senior Athlete of the Year honors Wednesday night at Lamar University's annual All-Sports Banquet from the Montagne Center.
Additionally, women's basketball player Monique Whittaker was honored with the John E. Gray/Babe Didrikson Zaharias Award, while soccer player Brittany Ross and baseball player Cameron Campbell earned the Female and Male Academic Awards, respectively.
Lamar athletics director Larry Tidwell also recognized Pat Park, John Payton, Ron Wesbrooks and Al Caldwell as Lamar Legends. Park spent more than a quarter of a century coaching women's sports at Lamar, serving as head coach for tennis, basketball, softball and golf.
Payton came to Lamar as an assistant on coach Vernon Glass's football staff in 1970, and 41 years later is still serving the university as an assistant professor in the department of health and kinesiology and as an assistant to Tidwell.
Wesbrooks guided the Lamar men's tennis program for more than 20 years, earning SLC Coach of the Year honors four times. Wesbrooks, who still serves as director of operations for LU tennis, guided the Cards to four straight SLC team titles from 1973 through 1976.
Caldwell has been a prominent voice for LU Athletics since arriving in Beaumont in 1962. He first served as an assistant to then Lamar broadcasting legend Ed Dittert, then in the 1978-79 season he joined Dave Hofferth in forming a broadcasting team of LU football and basketball that stayed together for more than 25 years.
Gutierrez is a four-year letterwinner from San Antonio, Venezuela, and is one of the most decorated female tennis players in school history. The 2010 Southland Conference Player of the Year, Gutierrez went an amazing 83-5 in singles play during her LU career.
Gutierrez was an Academic All-District VI selection as a junior, was the SLC Student-Athlete of the Year in 2010, was the 2008 SLC Freshman of the Year and earned all-conference honors in singles play three times. Lamar won the 2008 SLC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament during her freshman campaign.
Plumley completed her sparkling two-year career at Lamar in 2011 after transferring from Oklahoma. A native of Red Rock, Okla., Plumley was named First-Team All-SLC in each of her two seasons at Lamar, including earning Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors as a junior.
During Plumley's tenure at Lamar, the Lady Cardinals went a combined 51-16, advanced to the 2010 NCAA Tournament and the 2011 Women's National Invitation Tournament and won a Southland Conference regular season and tournament title.
Plumley finished her Lamar career with 986 points for a 14.9 points-per-game average. Her 204 career 3-pointers ranks first in school history, while her 399 assists and 202 steals rank second. As a senior, Plumley's 88.4 percent free throw shooting ranked as the second-highest in LU history, and her 3.4 steals per game ranked fourth nationally.
Ford is completing his third season as a pitcher on the Lamar baseball team and has become the ace of the staff as a senior. The Lufkin native has compiled a 5-3 record this season with a 3.61 earned run average and 52 strikeouts. Ford was named the SLC Pitcher of the Week on Apr. 11 after pitching a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
As a junior, Ford was the winning pitcher in LU's 9-3 victory over McNeese State in the SLC Tournament semifinals. The Cardinals went 4-0 in winning the 2010 SLC Tournament and advancing to their 13th NCAA Regional.
Whittaker wins the Zaharias Award which is given annually to the top senior-to-be from Lamar's eight women's sports. A native of Livingston, Whittaker was named the SLC Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Nebraska.
Whittaker started all 33 games for the Lady Cardinals this season, finishing third on the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game. Her 139 free throws made led the team, and she was second on the team in rebounding at 5.0 per contest.
Ross and Campbell are each closing out impressive careers by posting the highest grade-point averages among all Lamar graduating seniors. Ross was also the winner of the Community Service Award after serving as the campus chairman of the Relay For Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, for the past two years.
A native of Carrollton, Texas, Ross is an original member of the LU soccer program after starting eight games as a freshman in 2007. Ross is pursuing a double major in exercise science and psychology, and has already been accepted into the physical therapy program at Duke University.
Campbell has been named to the SLC Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll in each of the last three seasons as he prepares to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. An "Honors Program Graduate," Campbell will return to Lamar for his final year of eligibility next season as he pursues a minor in business. The Baytown native has played in 101 career games for the Cardinals, driving in 50 runs.
Each sport also announced its own performer of the year as selected by the coaching staff. Baseball and men's and women's outdoor track and field will not choose their athletes of the year until the conclusion of the current seasons.
Men's cross country, which won its fifth straight SLC team title, named freshman Matt Johnsen its athlete of the year after the native Australian placed third at the conference meet to earn All-SLC and Freshman of the Year honors.
The women's cross country award went to junior Taylor Cloy as the Magnolia native took third at the SLC Championships en route to all-conference honors.
A pair of Second-Team All-Southland Conference selections took home the athlete of the year awards in men's and women's golf. Junior Kevin Hesbois, who led the Cardinals with a 73.0 strokes per round average, was the men's winner, while sophomore Julie Aime won the award for the women after averaging a team-best 76.7 strokes per round.
Junior Marcus Jackson was tabbed the athlete of the year in football after the Tyler native hauled in a team-leading eight touchdowns from his wide receiver position. Jackson scored the first points at Lamar since the end of the 1989 season when he caught a 26-yard touchdown in the season opener at McNeese State.
Plumley won the athlete of the year for women's basketball, while junior Anthony Miles took home the honor for the men's team. Miles played in all 30 games, averaging 11.9 points per game on his way to earning honorable mention all-conference honors.
Gutierrez took home the award from women's tennis. The men's honor went to senior Diego Snyder from Lima, Peru. Snyder earned first-team all-conference honors in doubles this year, and was named to the second-team at No. 6 singles.
Junior Jennifer Gibbs of Rowlett, Texas, was selected the athlete of the year for soccer after earning honorable mention All-SLC honors. Gibbs, who has been in goal for every win in LU soccer history, had three shutouts this season.
Freshman Megan McStravick was named athlete of the year for volleyball after averaging nearly two kills per set in 27 matches. The Richmond native was fourth on the team with 136 digs and third in total blocks with 65.
In addition to taking home the award for soccer, Gibbs was also tabbed the sport performance female athlete of the year for her work in the weight room and in off-season conditioning. The men's award went to football player Mike Allen, a sophomore from San Marcos, Calif.
Student athletic trainer Ha Nguyen was named the support staff performer of the year, while Rebecca Kent won the award for band, Destini Ray won the award for cheerleading and Amber Tallant won the spirit team award.