Three Mountaineers Share Schaus Award

Women's soccer captain Ashley Banks, men's basketball captain Darris Nichols and football captain Owen Schmitt have won the 2008 Fred Schaus Captain's Award, presented annually to West Virginia University's most outstanding varsity team captains.

The winner must display outstanding sportsmanship and leadership, representing WVU well in all aspects. Winners are selected by the WVU Athletic Council. The council voted this year to annually award the top male and female captains. This year, there was a tie in voting for the men's captaincy.

Banks, a four-year letterwinner and 2007 team captain, guided the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight in her senior season. The Mountaineers posted an 18-5-2 record, tying the school's mark for most wins in a season.

In her senior campaign, the Annandale, Va., native led WVU with 38 points and 15 goals en route to being named the Big East's Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection. The Hermann Trophy semifinalist and NSCAA third team All-American will graduate with a degree in forensic science and was named an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American and NSCAA Scholar All-American. A member of the WVU Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll and a Big East Academic All-Star, Banks is involved in several community service initiatives such as youth soccer, West Virginia ODP, soccer school of excellence and also volunteers as a fundraiser for the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center.

Nichols, a two-time team captain and native of Radford, Va., won the 2008 Big East Sportsmanship Award and appeared in a school record 141 consecutive games. His 141 games played also set a new school standard as he started 73-consecutive games at point guard during his junior and senior seasons. He also set an NCAA record for most games played without fouling out (141).

Nichols guided WVU to a 99-42 record during his career and the 2005 Elite Eight, 2006 Sweet 16, 2007 NIT championship and 2008 Sweet 16. He posted 399 assists in 3,528 career minutes during his career. He also tallied 993 career points.

A graduate in sociology, Nichols is a member of the WVU Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll and a Big East Academic All Star. During his career, he also volunteered with Special Olympics, participated in Read Aloud programs at area schools and visited patients at area hospitals.

Schmitt, a Fairfax, Va., native and one of the school's all-time most-recognized and inspirational football players, guided WVU to three straight New Year's Day bowl victories, including wins over Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl and Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

Owen Schmitt
Schmitt finished his career with 1,003 rushing yards, scoring 13 total touchdowns. Schmitt helped WVU remain in the nation's Top 10 in each of the last three seasons, which included the school's best three-year record at 33-5 since 2005.

The WVU Athletic Director's Academic Honor Roll member graduated in December, 2007, with a degree in athletic coaching education. Schmitt has volunteered at local schools, speaking about the importance of staying in school and avoiding alcohol and drugs. He has also visited the sick at area hospitals.

The award was started to honor the retirement of Fred Schaus, who had outstanding success as a Mountaineer basketball player, coach and athletic director. Past winners of the Fred Schaus Captain's Award: Herbie Brooks, basketball (1989); Tammie DeAngelis, rifle (1990); Aileen Convery, swimming (1991); Ann-Marie Pfiffner, rifle (1992); Garett Smith, rifle (1993); Dean Morrison, wrestling (1994); Jean Foster, rifle (1995); Seldon Jefferson, basketball (1996); Sandy Shumate, volleyball (1996); Charles Emanuel, football (1997); Marcos Scrivner, rifle (1998); Shawn Foreman, football (1999); Jessica Nonnemacher, gymnastics (2000); Katie Barnes, soccer (2001); Kyle Kayden, football (2002); Avon Cobourne, football (2003); Merissa Sexsmith, cross country/track (2003); Grant Wiley, football (2004); Kate Bulger, basketball (2004); Rasheed Marshall, football (2005); Laura Kane, soccer (2005); J.D. Collins, basketball (2006); Susan Davis, cross country/track (2006); Jessica Czaikowski (2007); Dan Mozes (2007).

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