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ESPYs come to Monmouth: Fighting Scots athletics host first all-sports award banquet

April 24, 2015

Monmouth College hosted its first all-sports awards banquet on Tuesday night modeled after the ESPN ESPYs. Athletes, coaches and guests from all sports on campus were in attendance at the invite-only event in which student-athletes were honored with a variety of awards.

Dubbed the MC ESPYs, the show was emceed by seniors Alex Ivie and John O’Connor who are members of the women’s soccer team and men’s track and field team.

The award show was sponsored by McDonough Telephone Cooperative and was held in Dahl Chapel where over 100 members of the Scots’ athletic programs attended.

Michelle Ravel / The Courier - Erin Willhite recieves the Fighting Scots Leadership Award for her dedication both in and out of the pool.

The big winner of the night was senior Erin Willhite. Willhite is a member of the women’s swimming and diving team and was the winner of the Fighting Scots Leadership Award. Ten other nominees were up for the award, all of whom were nominated by a coach for the top honor; Willhite was nominated by Director of Aquatics and swim coach Tom Burek. On receiving her award Willhite was shocked and grateful for the honor.

“I was overwhelmed with emotions. Winning the award was such a surprise. I had no idea I was receiving it or that I was nominated by my swim coach Tom,” said Willhite.

Both Ivie and Willhite said the event was a success overall.

Michelle Ravel / The Courier - Alex Ivie presents an award to Andrew Mathison. Mathison was the first men's basketball player to place All-Region in the school's history.

“All student-athletes were invited and Dahl Chapel was filled with our athletic family at MC. Everyone that I spoke with after said how they want to be a part of the program next year, so I think many people want this to be continued,” Ivie said.

Many other programs and players were awarded honors, as well. Freshman Kelsey Walsberg’s four-point play to help claim victory in women’s basketball over St. Norbert College won best moment of the year. That same game won upset of the year for the women’s basketball team as St. Norbert had been undefeated in MWC until that point.

Senior Mackenzie Gillund’s battle back from knee surgery in volleyball to have a strong final season earned her the Comeback Athlete Award.

Michelle Ravel / The Courier - Mackenzie Gillund poses with her Comeback Athlete Award. Gillund battled back from knee surgery sophomore year, to have a strong senior season. The volleyball player was never below second in six different categories in the statistics.

Also with a great season was men’s basketball which won breakthrough performance as a team for a second place finish in the MWC regular season. In addition to that, Andrew Mathison was named the school’s first men’s player to be named All-Region.

After a big senior season, Kyra Kimber nabbed an All-American award and a Midwest Conference title. Kimber also became the first women’s individual cross country winner in the MWC since 1986, and the second Monmouth College woman ever to be named All-American, which led her to the Individual Performance of the Year award at the ceremony.

Another track and field athlete, sophomore Ethan Reschke earned Championship Performance of the Year for stand out performances in just his second year as a member of the men’s track and field team.

Non student-athletes were also honored on Tuesday night. Professor Ken McMillan received the Faculty Support recognition Award, and 1986 graduate Roger Well was awarded the Fighting Scot Alumni Recognition Award. Well was given the award due to his record setting decathlon and outstanding performance overall in track and field during his time at Monmouth.

Of her part in the event, Ivie said she was thrilled to be given the opportunity.

“Emceeing was a blast. I was so nervous to start, but once we got going I realized I was surrounded by all my close friends and that put me at ease. The nerves subsided especially when the other emcee, John O’Connor, brought up the definition of the bands we were given at the entrance. These bands say ‘Fighting Scot First’. This means that we are always representing our school, our athletic program, and most importantly ourselves,” said Ivie.

“John and Alex were great emcees. I think that they are well respected people inside the classroom and as athletes, as well as around campus,” Willhite said.

The MC ESPYs were praised all around as an event that members of the athletic community would like to see continue for years to come.

“I think this will give many athletes a chance to get recognized for their many achievements that they might not have gotten recognized for without this award ceremony,” Ivie said.

Erica Anderson
Courier Sports Editor

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