Fawcett, Sandy Named Penn State Athletes of the Year
June 17, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Senior women's volleyball player Nicole Fawcett (Zanesville, Ohio) and senior men's gymnast Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ontario) have earned this year's honors as Penn State's Athletes of the Year. This year's Honda Award winner for women's volleyball, Fawcett led her team to back-to-back national championships her final two years, while Sandy leaves Penn State a highly decorated All-American and winner of the 2009 Nissen-Emery Award, the top prize in men's collegiate gymnastics.
Both Sandy and Fawcett are now eligible for the Big Ten's Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award and Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year Award. Those awards will be announced as part of the Second Annual Big Ten Network Awards Show this Friday, June 19, at 10 p.m. ET.
A finalist for the Honda Broderick Cup, Fawcett capped off her senior season with Penn State's second straight NCAA Championship in women's volleyball. The 2009 AVCA Division I National Player of the Year and a member of the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team, Fawcett aided the Nittany Lions in setting a new NCAA record with 64 consecutive matches won, closing out the 2009 campaign with a perfect 39-0 match record. Penn State also made history by winning 111 consecutive individual games, finishing the year winning 114 out of 116 total games.
Fawcett, the 2009 Big Ten Player of the Year, ranked second on the squad with 3.78 kills per game on .358 hitting with a team-high 40 service aces, also adding in 210 digs and 83 total blocks. Fawcett captured her fourth AVCA All-America honor and her third consecutive first team recognition. She was a unanimous pick for the All-Big Ten squad each year of her career, one of only nine athletes in conference history to receive unanimous selection all four years.
During Fawcett's time in Happy Valley, Penn State has amassed an incredible 134-8 record. The Nittany Lions have earned two trips to the NCAA semifinals, advancing to the final on both occasions, and captured the NCAA Division I National Championship twice. Fawcett finished her Penn State career second all-time in program history and eighth all-time on the Big Ten charts with 1,943 kills.
In the midst of his exceptional senior season, Sandy also was able to further his burgeoning international gymnastics career. Competing in the Elite Canada 2009, he dominated the field, winning the all-around on both days, thereby securing himself a roster spot on the Canadian National Team. Sandy's impressive accomplishments also garnered him attention outside of the gymnastics world. In February, he was selected as the 2008 Ken Giles Award winner, an honor presented annually to the amateur athlete of the year by his hometown of Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Later that month, Sandy earned praise one of the foremost and popular publications in the world, Sports Illustrated, when he was featured is SI's Faces in the Crowd.
Untimely injury denied him the chance to defend his 2008 Big Ten All-Around title and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award as Sandy suffered a severely sprained ankle during the team finals of the Big Ten Championships and could not complete the all-around rotation. Two weeks later at the national championships, despite still feeling the affects of the ankle injury, Sandy competed in his normal role and won the all-around in the national qualifier. He would go to secure his ninth career All-America honor when he placed seventh in the vault in the individual finals. The culmination of Sandy's brilliant career came when he was honored with the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award. Bestowed in recognition of outstanding athletic achievement, academic excellence, and sportsmanship, it is the highest honor presented in collegiate gymnastics. Also a dedicated and diligent student, Sandy will graduate with a degree in science, intending to pursue a career as a pharmacist.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 when Indiana's Jim Spivey earned the inaugural award. The following year, a women's award was created. In 1991-92 as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of women's athletics in the Conference, the women's award was renamed in honor of former Wisconsin track standout and three-time recipient Suzy Favor.
BOLD CAPS indicates recipients of the Big Ten's Athletes of the Year Awards (Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year and Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year)
The above Athletes of the Year reflect only years since Penn State joined the Big Ten.