Shipley, Gyamfi Garner Highest Honors at 2014 Golden Eagle Athletics Banquet
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (April 30, 2014) -- Hosted by Bill Stevenson, Director of International Admissions and Student Services, John Brown University held its annual All-Sports Athletics Banquet on Tuesday evening in the Simmons Great Hall, awarding year-end accolades and honoring all student-athletes for their academic and athletic achievements.
Earning the highest honors of the evening were senior basketball players Sierra Shipley and Gilbert Gyamfi. Shipley was honored with the Female Athlete of the Year award after leading the Golden Eagles to the 2014 NAIA National Champions Fab Four and a 28-8 record. She garnered the program's first-ever WBCA-NAIA All-America first team honors while landing on the All-Sooner Athletic Conference first team and the NAIA's All-America third team. Gyamfi was awarded the Male Athlete of the Year award after he finished second in scoring on the team en route to NAIA All-America honorable mention status.
Freshmen Braydi Frederick and Quinton Smith received the Female and Male Freshman of the Year award, respectively. Frederick led the women's soccer team in goals (8), assists (3) and points (19). Smith earned the 2014 SAC Co-Freshman of the Year honors as he finished the 2013-14 season averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
The Newcomer of the Year award, given to a transfer student-athlete who has just completed their first year of play for JBU, was awarded to junior women's basketball guard Eliana Fernandez. Before missing the final portion of the season due to injury, the Golden Eagles boasted an 18-3 record while Fernandez was second on the team in scoring and rebounding and led the squad in assists. She was also named an NAIA All-American honorable mention and landed on the All-Conference second team.
Ryan Duncan of men's soccer earned the Breakthrough Athlete of the Year honors after his record-breaking season in 2013. Prior to his junior year, he had accumulated just four goals over two seasons until he registered 11 goals and three assists this season. His four game-winning goals were 30th amongst NAIA leaders.
Men's soccer continued to pull in the awards as senior Misha Kolemasov earned the Comeback Athlete of the Year honors. He missed the entire 2012 season due to injury before returning in 2013 to finish with a pair of goals as the captain and started 18 of 19 contests. Luke Theimer capped off the men's soccer honors when it was announced he had won the Best Supporting Athlete of the Year for his play on the field and his interaction with teammates. Theimer started 18 of 19 games in 2013 and played four different positions throughout the year.
Cameron McLendon was named the winner of the Behind the Scenes Award for his service to the men's and women's tennis teams. The first-flight senior assisted head coach Paul Pautsch this season in addition to driving ones of the vans to away matches, coordinating with the cafeteria for road trips and stringing racquets or doing whatever is needed for the team.
The team awards began with the Game of the Year category that was awarded to women's basketball for their victory over then-No. 1 Vanguard (Calif.) in the NAIA National Championship Round of 16. Senior forward Kami Garrison's free throw in the waning seconds, in addition to a strong defensive stand on the final possession, allowed John Brown to collect its second-ever win over an NAIA No. 1 opponent and a trip to the Exclusive Eight.
The Best Finish of the Year award is awarded to an individual, small group or team for a phenomenal game ending performance. While there were three outstanding nominees for the award, the honors went to sophomore women's soccer netminder Kristen Morency and the women's soccer team for its shootout victory over Oklahoma City in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament finals. The victory allowed the Golden Eagles to capture its first-ever tournament championship and its third-ever appearance in the NAIA National Championships.
The Best Comeback of the Year award, given to an individual or team who were behind most of the contest, but ended up winning in the end, was never really in doubt. Women's basketball secured the award when it mounted a memorable 23-3 comeback performance to end the game against Loyola (La.) in the NAIA National Championship Exclusive Eight. Down 18 points with 7:51 remaining in the game, Brooke Barker's only bucket of the game, a triple, erased the Wolfpack lead with 8.1 seconds left, vaulting John Brown into the Fab Four.
Lauren Rogers wrapped up the final award with her remarkable 21-point outburst in a win over Oklahoma City in the SAC tournament semifinals. Rogers finished 4-of-5 behind the arc and led the Golden Eagles to its first win over the Stars since 2001.
Twenty-two student-athletes were honored beacuse of earning conference accolades throughout the season while four student-athletes (Morency, Shipley, Fernandez and Gyamfi) received recognition for landing NAIA national honors. Fifteen in attendance garnered NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors while 28 earned JBU Scholar-Athlete accolades.
Finally, men's cross country's Caleb Fuller and volleyball's Staci Williamson were named this year's Champions of Character for their outstanding service to John Brown University and the community at large.