Phoebe Wright is Tennessee's sixth female or male winner of the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award.
April 6, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - University of Tennessee track & field athlete Phoebe Wright and Auburn University swimmer Jordan Anderson have been named recipients of the 2009-10 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Tuesday. The awards will be formally presented to the two student-athletes at the annual Awards Banquet at the league's spring meeting in Destin, Fla. on June 3.
The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities. Both will receive a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by AT&T, an SEC Corporate Champion sponsor, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
This marks the second consecutive season a Lady Vol has been so honored. Swimmer Christine Magnuson was the women's winner in 2009.
"The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive in the Southeastern Conference," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "The commitment and dedication that Jordan and Phoebe embody makes them excellent selections for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award. They are outstanding representatives of their institutions and the Southeastern Conference."
Wright, a native of Signal Mountain, Tenn., has a 3.96 grade point average, with a double major in Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll (Academic Honor Roll announced later in spring) and has earned Thornton Center (UT Athletics) Honor Roll status in each semester.
In 2009, she was named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America first-team and has earned All-District honors twice. She made the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team from 2007 to 2009 and will graduate Summa Cum Laude this fall.
Wright is a three-time NCAA distance medley relay champion (2008, 2009, 2010), won the 800 meters at NCAA Indoors in 2010 and was runner up in the 800 at the 2009 NCAA Indoor meet. She is an eight-time All-American (DMR, 800 meters and 4x400 meter relay) and a six-time SEC champion (three times in the 800 meters and three times in the DMR). She has scored 11 times in SEC Championship events and was named the 2010 SEC Indoor Women's Runner of the Year.
She is the world record-holder in the indoor distance medley relay (DMR) and the outdoor 4x1500 meters, and owns the American record in the 4x800m relay as well as an SEC meet record in the DMR. She owns five UT records on relay teams and currently ranks second indoors and third outdoors on the school's all-time 800 meter lists. Her top outdoor mark (2:00.40) came last summer after she earned a bronze medal at the USA Championships and pursued a berth on the U.S. team for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.
Wright has been active in the Knoxville community, visiting children at local hospitals, volunteering at local track & field meets, speaking to local youth church groups and participating in "Teams for Toys," purchasing, wrapping and giving Christmas gifts to area needy children.
She organized the Red Bank High School Fun Run to raise over $1,000 for the school's track and cross country teams, volunteers with the Chattanooga River Rescue to clean up rivers and with the Ecosystem Ecology Lab to help graduate students do field research.
"We all dream of winning back-to-back national championships, but for a Lady Vol to win the McWhorter Award back-to-back is really an amazing tribute to our student-athletes and our coaches, and what they stand for," UT Women's Athletics Director Joan Cronan said. "I am extremely proud of Phoebe's accomplishments, and this is a real credit to her and the members of our athletics staff who've helped her develop from a walk-on as a freshman into the record-setting student-athlete she has become."
The significance of the award was not lost on Wright, who played a key role in helping the Lady Vols win the 2009 NCAA Indoor National Championship, post a runner-up finish at the NCAA Indoor meet in 2010 and capture SEC Indoor trophies in 2007 and 2009.
"The SEC is such a talent-laden conference," Wright said. "I feel very, very humbled that I was chosen for such a prestigious award. When I look at the names of the previous winners, such as Lady Vol swimmer Christine Magnuson, it is an incredible honor to be placed in the same category.
"I've really leaned on a lot of people who've helped me out during my time at UT. Coach Clark, for one, saw something in me and worked with me every day to try and get the best out of me, on the track and off. The training room kept me healthy, and the Thornton Center provided community service opportunities that really made it easy for me to get involved in helping other people.
"It is wonderful that the SEC has the means to provide support to its student-athletes and offer these types of scholarships so the recipients can continue their education. I hope to keep representing UT and the SEC well and be the best I can possibly be."
The Lady Vol senior is the sixth UT student-athlete to garner this accolade and the second consecutive Lady Vol. The previous UT female winners include swimmer Christine Magnuson (2009), diver Lauryn McCalley (2005) and track & field/cross country runner Patty Wiegand (1991). Past Vol winners were basketball player Lang Wiseman (1993) and track & field's John Young (1986).
"I want to congratulate Phoebe for winning the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "It's a tremendous accomplishment by Phoebe and something that reflects very positively on the University of Tennessee, our program and her. We are extremely proud of the manner in which she continues to represent this university.
"Very few Lady Vols and Vols have received this prestigious award. It underscores her amazing ability to achieve excellence in athletics and academics as well as take time to give back to the community, and being recognized as the best in the SEC in that regard is quite an impressive accomplishment. If you look at her resumé, this honor is certainly justified."
Anderson, a native of Roanoke, Va., has a 3.92 grade point average, majoring in Biomedical Sciences. Earlier this year, Anderson was named as a recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and will study next year at the University of Oxford in England. After a year of study abroad, Anderson plans on entering dental school in the United States.
He is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll (2010 Winter Honor Roll announced later this year). He is also a three-time Auburn Academic Top Tiger as well as a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Chi Alpha Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies.
Anderson earned All-America honors in 2009 as part of Auburn's 400 medley relay squad and is a two-time second-team All-SEC performer in the butterfly. He was the runner-up in the 100 fly in the 2008 and 2009 SEC Championships.
He is active in community service having volunteered for Swim Across America for Cancer Research, Laps for Cystic Fibrosis, Auburn Relay for Life and with Young Life as a leader and work crew member. He also volunteered with Medical Mission community dental clinic, providing dental care for those without insurance in his hometown of Roanoke, Va.
The McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is being released to coincide with National Student-Athlete Day, which was created in 1987 by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and presented by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
"National Student-Athlete Day has been honoring deserving student-athletes for more than 20 years," said Richard Lapchick, Director of the NCAS and Chair of DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. "I believe SEC's McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Program and scholarships may be the best model for all others. It has set great precedents and I am so glad it is continuing this tradition in 2010. My heartiest congratulations to Jordan and Phoebe. I am confident they will be great examples of a real scholar-citizen-athlete."
National Student-Athlete Day is held each April 6 to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. It is also a time to recognize those parents, teachers, coaches and school systems which make it possible for young people to find the balance between academics and athletics.
The 11 other female nominees were: Kassi Price, Gymnastics, Alabama; Katie Stripling, Track & Field, Arkansas; Melissa Marik, Swimming & Diving, Auburn; Rebekah Zaiser, Gymnastics, Florida; Grace Taylor, Gymnastics, Georgia; Sarah Rumley, Volleyball, Kentucky; Lauren DiGirolamo, Volleyball, LSU; Danielle Johnson, Soccer, Ole Miss; Chelsea Bramlett, Softball, Mississippi State; Blakely Mattern, Soccer, South Carolina; Catherine Newman, Tennis, Vanderbilt.
The 11 other male nominees were: Saketh Myneni, Tennis, Alabama; Thomas Hauskey, Baseball, Arkansas; Joey Sorrentino, Football, Florida; Hunter Lainhart, Swimming & Diving, Georgia; Eric McGinnis; Swimming & Diving, Kentucky; Lyle Hitt, Football, LSU; Andy Hartmann, Football, Ole Miss; Tyson Lee, Football, Mississippi State; Patrick Rada, Golf, South Carolina; Matt Maloney, Track & Field, Tennessee; Thomas Davis, Cross Country, Vanderbilt.
The SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards were first presented in 1986. The honor was renamed the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year in May 1990 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1972-86.
Past recipients include: 2009 - Bram ten Berge, Ole Miss (golf) and Christine Magnuson, Tennessee (swimming & diving); 2008 - Joseph Sykora, Alabama (golf) and Kristen Hastrup, Auburn (swimming & diving); 2007 - Emeel Salem, Alabama (baseball) and Erika Schneble, Vanderbilt (track & field); 2006 - Rudy Niswanger, LSU (football) and Sarah Lowe, Florida (basketball); 2005 - Rob Robertson, Ole Miss (football) and Lauryn McCalley, Tennessee (diving); 2004 - Caesar Garcia, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Lauren Imwalle, Alabama (soccer); 2003 - Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball) and Kristin Sterner, Alabama (gymnastics); 2002 - Trey Dyson, South Carolina (baseball) and Tiffany Woolley, Arkansas (softball); 2001 - Scott Westerfield, Mississippi State (football) and Kim Black, Georgia (swimming); 2000 - Joey Pitts, Georgia (tennis) and Lisette Lee, LSU (golf); 1999 - Jeff Zurcher, Kentucky (football) and Jessica Field, Arkansas (volleyball); 1998 - Jeremy Jackson, Mississippi State (baseball) and Shani Abshier, South Carolina (volleyball); 1997 - Andrew DeVooght, Georgia (swimming) and Meredith Willard, Alabama (gymnastics); 1996 - Martin Nyberg, LSU (swimming) and Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt (basketball); 1995 - Michael Blanchard, LSU (football) and April Ecke, Mississippi State (cross country); 1994 - Peter Duitsman, South Carolina (soccer) and Tammy Newlon, Mississippi State (basketball); 1993 - Lang Wiseman, Tennessee (basketball) and Aimee York, Mississippi State (volleyball); 1992 - Jeff Laubenthal, Alabama (baseball) and Jenifer Kleyn, Auburn (volleyball); 1991 - Al Parker, Georgia (tennis) and Patty Wiegand, Tennessee (track and cross country); 1990 - Burke Masters, Mississippi State (baseball) and Janice Kerr, Florida (gymnastics); 1989 - Mikael Olander, LSU (track) and Deanne Burnett, Georgia (swimming); 1988 - Danny Hoskins, Ole Miss (football) and Linda Leith, Georgia (swimming); 1987 - Jeff Noblin, Ole Miss (football) and Julie Estin, Alabama (gymnastics); 1986 - John Young, Tennessee (track) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming).