April 20, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama Athletics Department’s annual Crimson Choice Awards Banquet, presented by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), was held Monday evening at the Bryant Conference Center.
Senior soccer player Laura Leigh Smith, the SAAC president, opened the program by welcoming the gathered student-athletes while long-time Crimson Tide announcer Tony Giles served as the master of ceremony.
Senior Academic All-America basketball player Levi Randolph and senior NCAA Elite 89 Award winner Emily Zabor were named the winners of the Paul W. Bryant Award given annually to the top male and female student-athlete. The Paul W. Bryant Student-Athlete Award was created by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association in 1985.
The other finalists for the Bryant Student-Athlete Award were also recognized during the banquet. On the women’s side that included Nikki Hegstetter (basketball), Emma Talley (golf), Lauren Beers (gymnastics), Logan O’Neil (rowing), Laura Lee Smith (soccer), Jadyn Spencer (softball), Kaylin Burchell (swimming and diving), Emily Zabor (tennis) and Sierra Wilson (volleyball).
On the men’s side, the finalists were Arie Kouandjio (football), Michael Oczypok (baseball), Tom Lovelady (golf), Connor Oslin (swimming and diving), Stuart Kenyon (tennis) and Hayden Reed (track and field).
The 2015 Southeastern Conference Champion gymnastics team and the men’s tennis squad were honored as the teams with the highest grade point averages. Gymnastics earned the honor while posting a 3.67 team GPA, and men’s team earned the distinction with a 3.34.
The Athletics Department’s community outreach efforts were also recognized during the event. Crimson Tide student-athletes gave almost 3,000 hours toward community service this year. Swimming and diving was the women’s squad with the most community outreach hours while baseball earned the honor for the men. Individually, swimmer Travis Kerner and rower Alyssa Drevenak were recognized for their outstanding service to the community.
Men’s Golf coach Jay Seawell was voted coach of the year, while his 2014 NCAA Championship team was named the Crimson Choice Team of the Year.
The Crimson Choice Awards’ Top Play, as voted at the banquet, went track and field’s Hayden Reed, who won the NCAA discus title as a freshman. The Rookie of the Year, which covers the 2014 season (spring and fall), also went to Reed.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee also presented the inaugural John Servati Courage Award, given in the memory of Crimson Tide swimmer John Servati who died last April saving the life of a fellow UA student. Krystal Rivers was the first recipient after battling cancer last winter and coming back to play at an All-America level this past fall. Rivers also earned the Comeback Athlete of the Year award.
Dr. Meredith Bagley, a professor within the Department of Communication Studies in the area of Sport Communications, was honored with the Finest Faculty Award for her dedication to student-athlete academic achievement.