VU Women Celebrate the 2008 Season

The women's basketball team celebrated the 2007-08 season and the career of senior Liz Sherwood at the annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday night. VandyMania's Whitney D was there and shares these photos from the evening.

Every year the annual women's basketball Awards Banquet gives the team's players, staff, and fans the chance to celebrate the season and to say goodbye one more time to the team's seniors. Following the team's return to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament this year, there was plenty of reason to celebrate. The celebration began with an invocation by Tina Wirth, then it was time to eat.

Lauren Lueders and Merideth Marsh

Ashlee Bridge, Jessica Mooney and Amy Malo

Tina Wirth, Jen Risper, and Chanel Chisholm

Jence Rhoads and Hannah Tuomi

Liz Sherwood and Assistant Coach Vicky Picott

Amber Norton and Rebecca Silinski

The Hoops Crew sponsored a Silent Auction in conjunction with the banquet. Before the presentations began, fans had one last chance to bid on their favorite items.

After the highlight film, the team was introduced class by class, then patiently posed for photos. (Click photo to view a larger image.)

Then it was time for the presentation of the awards. Most of the awards are voted on by the players on the team and presented by member of the team, but the first award, the Academic Award, was made by the team's academic counselor Christy Hogan. Tina Wirth was this year's recipient of the award.

Merideth Marsh introduced the Give Back Award, the award that's given to the player who gives the most back to both the Vanderbilt community and the larger community beyond the campus. Tina's name was called again.

Chanel Chisholm presented the award for "Best Defensive Player", and the recipient was, to the surprise of nobody in attendance, Jen Risper.

Then the tables were turned, and Jen introduced the "Most Improved Player" award, and presented it to Hannah Tuomi.

Jessica Mooney introduced the "Go To Player" award" and presented it to senior Liz Sherwood.

The last award was the "Commodore Award", introduced by Rebecca Silinski and awarded to Tina Wirth.

After the awards, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb spoke to the crowd, thanking her staff and the many other people who support the women's basketball program. Her assistants received special mention for opening her eyes to the joys of the defensive side of the game. "I'm on the defensive bus now," she said, "and I am sitting at the front. They got me to believe that this defense thing is fun."

After Coach Balcomb paid tribute to Liz Sherwood, the team's lone senior, it was Liz's turn to take her place at the podium. She kept her comments "short and sweet."

After master of ceremonies Charlie Mattos declared the banquet to be over, the room flickered with flashes as players and fans alike took advantage of one last chance to take photos of this year's team.

In most of the photos, Jen tried to hide the cast she's wearing on her right arm following surgery to repair the torn ligament she suffered in the SEC tournament game against Tennessee.

The team's four freshmen, Rebecca Silinski, Jence Rhoads, Chanel Chisholm, and Hannah Tuomi, are looking forward to going home after exams are over in a couple of weeks. After the break, they'll return to campus in July for summer school and workouts with their teammates.

Liz will graduate in May, with a major in Economics and a minor in Economic Finance, then will work on campus through the summer. In the meantime, she's exploring her options for continuing her basketball career overseas in the fall and winter.

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Photos copyright 2008 by Whitney D. for

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