Athletics Department Holds Scholar Athlete Dinner

Columbia, S.C. - The University of South Carolina Athletics Department held its 2005 Scholar Athlete Dinner Monday night which honored its top student-athletes in academics, performance and community service...

The event was sponsored by Colonial Supplemental Insurance. Included in the honors were the Outstanding Community Service Winners, the Team Community Service winner, the Inspiration Award, Teams of the Year and Student-Athletes of the Year. Capping off the evening was the recognition of the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholarship Winners, USC's Scholar Athletes of the Year, John Chappell and Jenny Lake.

Earning the Outstanding Community Service Awards were football's Preston Thorne and women's diving Holly Hodges. The male winner of the Southeastern Conference $2,000 Post-Graduate Scholarship, Thorne is a History major and is currently a graduate student seeking his masters in secondary education teaching. His service projects include: Communities in Schools Volunteer where he tutors and mentors to at-risk youth, Alternative Youth Adventures Volunteer where he served as a tutor and mentor for first time offenders. Thorne was a 2004 Football Team Caption, was named to the Dean's List and is a 2004 CoSIDA Academic All-American.

Co-Captain of the 2005 swimming & diving team, Hodges is the overall female winner of the Southeastern Conference $5,000 Post-Graduate Scholarship and the 2005 Female Senior Outstanding Community Service Award Winner. Hodges is a double major in Hotel, Restaurant Tourism Management and Sport and Entertainment Management. Her community service projects include HomeWorks, "Smart Matters", Special Olympics, Adopt-a- Highway, Animal Protection League of SC, and Children's Hospital. Hodges is the current president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and she is a 2002 NCAA All-American on the one-meter board.

The Team Community Service award went to the USC volleyball team, which logged more than 30 hours per person in community service hours. Volunteer time was spent working at Edventure, World Children's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Coaches vs. Cancer and a local dance marathon

The Inspiration Award is presented to a USC Student-Athlete who has overcome great adversity with perseverance, dedication and determination. Kimmy Criss of women's soccer was awarded the honor this year. Criss has battled various injuries throughout her career and was diagnosed with Chrones disease. An accounting major, the Knoxville, Tenn. native has maintained a 4.0 GPA in her last five semesters.

Male and Female Team of the Year went to baseball and women's track and field. In 2004, the USC baseball team advanced to the College World Series for the third straight year and won their first ever SEC Tournament championship. The Gamecock baseball team also finished with 53 wins and had a final ranking of No. 3 in the nation.

Women's track and Field finished fifth indoors and fourth outdoors at the 2004 SEC Championships and finished in the top 10 at both NCAA Championships. USC won the national title in the 4X400 relay at the 2005 Indoor Championships and for the year collected 24 All-America honors.

The Female Student-Athlete of the Year was track and field's Shevon Stoddart, a 2004 Olympian who competed for her home country Jamaica. A 2005 team captain, Stoddart is an eight-time All-American and a 2005 NCAA national champion. Majoring in advertising, Stoddart has been very active in several community service projects.

USC pitcher Aaron Rawl is the Male Student-Athlete of the Year. The Lexington, S.C. native has led the Gamecocks to three consecutive appearances in the College World Series and was named third team All-America by National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association. A 2005 team captain, Rawl earned USC's Most Outstanding Pitcher award after compiling a 13-4 record and he is currently tied for fifth on USC's All-Time Wins list with a 32-11 career record. He is also a member of the 2004 SEC Academic Honor Roll and was a Dean's List student in the 2003-04 season.

The Scholar Athlete of the Year awards went to men's basketball's John Chappell and cross country's Jenny Lake. Chappell and Lake were also USC's winners for the SEC's H. Boyd McWhorter Scholarship. The Boyd McWhorter winners each receive a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship from the SEC.

Lake is a 2005 team captain and maintains a 4.0 cumulative GPA in Mathematics. The Geneseo, Ill. native is a CoSIDA Academic All-American and broke the school record in the 3,000-meters event with a time of 9:41.77. Lake was the lead runner for USC and finished her cross country career as the top runner on the team at every meet for four years in a row.

Chappell, a senior center, was awarded this honor as he graduated in three and a half years with three degrees: International business, Marketing, and Finance. A member of the 2005 NIT Championship team, Chappell is a CoSIDA All-District All-American and a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection.

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