Phoebe Wright accepts the 2010 H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
June 4, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
SANDESTIN, Fla. - University of Tennessee track & field and cross country athlete Phoebe Wright and Auburn University swimmer Jordan Anderson were honored Thursday evening as women's and men's recipients of the 2009-10 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award at the annual SEC Awards Banquet at the league's spring meetings.
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 Phoebe and Jordan 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 (2010 Academic Honor Roll will be announced later in spring) and has earned Thornton Center (UT Athletics) Honor Roll status in each semester. Recently, she was chosen as the 2010 SEC Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
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. She is a candidate for all of these academic awards again in 2010.
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 seven-time SEC champion (four times in the 800 meters and three times in the DMR).
Additionally, she has scored 14 times in SEC Championship events and was named the 2010 SEC Indoor Women's Runner of the Year. She is one of only two Lady Vols, along with Joetta Clark, to win four league 800m crowns, and she joins Hazel Clark (Florida) and LaTavia Thomas (LSU) as the only women in SEC history to claim four straight conference 800m titles.
Next week, Wright will attempt to add on to her NCAA legacy, as she travels with her team to Eugene, Ore., to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Championships, June 9-12. Wright, who has the No. 1 time in the nation in the 800m at 2:00.87, will try to complete a season sweep of NCAA titles in that event. Additionally, she will run a leg on UT's 4x400m relay, which enters the NCAA meet ranked 10th.
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 possesses 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, Germany.
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."
The 11 other female nominees for the McWhorter Award 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 & field) 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 & field) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming).