April 11, 2012
CULLOWHEE, N.C. -Western Carolina University's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted its fourth annual A-Cat-Emy Awards on Tuesday, in the John Bardo Fine Arts and Performing Center Theatre, honoring Catamount student-athletes for their achievements on and off the playing field.
Categories ranged from athletic to academic achievements as well as honoring Catamount teams and head coaches from spring 2011 until winter 2012. The hosts for the event were Western Carolina senior soccer player Emily Lynn and senior track and field athlete Jamie Van Pelt.
A full list is provided below, but here are a few highlighted winners in various categories.
The Female and Male Rookie of the Year were given to volleyball's Caitlin Piechotaand track and field's Abe Faison. Piechota was named to the 2011 Southern Conference All-Freshman Team, leading the team in kills with 286. Faison was honored as the 2012 Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year after placing in the top eight in the long jump (fourth), triple jump (eighth) and the 60-meter hurdles (fifth) at the 2012 Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The Female and Male Scholar Athletes of the Year are given to the student-athletes who best exemplify success in the classroom. Women's basketball sophomore forward Alex Abraham was named the Female Scholar Athlete with a 4.0 GPA in Recreational Therapy. Redshirt junior Luke Burton, a member of the WCU track and field team, was named Male Scholar Athlete with a 3.98 GPA in Chemistry.
Miss WCU, which is awarded to a female Western Carolina student-athlete who best represents all aspects of what it means to be a Catamount, was given to Samantha Hodge. A member of the Catamount soccer team, Hodge is the SAAC Vice President, SGA Athletic Senator and is also interning with the Catamount Club. As a redshirt junior, Hodge led Western Carolina soccer in all offensive categories in 2011 and was named to the Capitol One Academic All District III First Team with a 3.96 GPA in Mathematics.
SAAC President Chris Everettwas named Mr. WCU. Everett has served as the SAAC President for the last two years and is also the NCAA Southern Conference SAAC Representative as well the NCAA Joint SAAC Division I Representative. He was also named the SAAC Spotlight Student-Athlete of the Year.
During the course of the season, SAAC gave out monthly awards for Male and Female SAAC Student-Athlete of the Month as well as SAAC Spotlight Student-Athlete. Each of the winners throughout the year, was eligible for the male and female student-athlete of the year and spotlight student-athlete of the year.
After being honored twice, throughout the year, women's basketball player senior Kaila'Shea Menendez and men's basketball player senior Harouna Mutombowere named SAAC Female and Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
Menendez closed out her career at Western Carolina with numerous accolades and highlights. She was named to the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament Second Team and also voted All-Southern Conference in the Southern Conference Coaches' poll.
Menendez scored in double figures 19 times and led the team averaging 12.2 points per game. She eclipsed 1,000 points in her career and ended with 1,151 points ranking her 18th in all-time scoring in the Catamount record books. Her 73 career made three pointers ranked her 10th in the Catamount record books and her 342 made free throws was good for second.
Menendez was also awarded one of the highest honors of the night, being named Female A-Cat-Emy Athlete of the Year.
Mutombo led the Catamounts with a 13.9 point and 5.9 rebounds per game average during the 2011-12 season, starting 31 of the 35 games on the year. His 13.9 points per game ranked him 11th in the SoCon. He scored in double figures 27 times including a stretch of nine-consecutive to end the season while surpassing the 20-point plateau six times. He also averaged nearly two assists and 1.5 steals per game in his final season for the Purple & Gold.
Mutombo finished 10th in the WCU career record books for scoring with 1,578 points with 684 career rebounds to become the eighth different Catamount to score over 1,000 career points and record over 650 career rebounds. He ranked third in school history with 185 career steals and was tied for 10th with 55 career blocked shots.
The male counterpart to Menendez's Female A-Cat-Emy Athlete of the Year award went to co-winners track and field sprinter Benny Davisand baseball's Ross Hefley, who were named Male A-Cat-Emy Athlete of the Year.
The award was for Davis' accomplishment's in 2011 in which he was named Second Team All-American after being a member of the Catamount 400-meter relay team that placed 15th in the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This season, Davis won the 200-meter dash in the 2012 Southern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 21.35 and placed second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.84.
Heffley was honored for his 2011 accolades. He started all 53 games in which he played at second base, becoming the first WCU player to earn the team's Triple Crown since 2007 by pacing the squad in batting average (.419), RBI (65) and home runs (11). Heffley led the Southern Conference in both batting average and on-base percentage (.483), both career-highs while his batting average did not dip below .384 all season (March 27) and stayed above the .400 plateau the final 26 games of the season. He was named first team All-Southern Conference at second base by both the league's head coaches and voting members of the media and first team Louisville Slugger All-American by Collegiate Baseball becoming the 11th different Catamount all-time and just the third, first team selection in school history. Heffley also earned first team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
First-year head coach Glover took over the reins of a Western Carolina team that won nine SoCon matches over the past four years and to successfully lead the Catamounts to an 8-8 record in league play in 2011. WCU was predicted to finish last in the SoCon's North Division when the preseason poll was released. The Purple and Gold earned the third seed in the North. Also, the 13 overall wins by the Catamounts are the most for a WCU team since 2003 when the Catamounts won 16. Glover is only the second Western Carolina coach to be named SoCon Coach of the Year as Trish Howell, who received the honor three times (1983, 1985, 1989), was the first.
Williamson was named Men's Coach of the Year for the ninth time in his career after leading the men's team to a 2012 SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championship crown, matching the same number he has received in his efforts with the women's team. In the final two awards of the night, women's golf and men's track and field were honored as Lady Catamount Team of the Year and Catamount Team of the Year. These awards incorporated the 2011 spring season all the way through men's and women's basketball competition in 2012.
Full List of Winners
Female Rookie of the Year: Caitlin Piechota(volleyball)
Male Rookie of the Year: Abe Faison (track and field)
Female Scholar Athlete of the Year: Alex Abraham(women's basketball)
Male Scholar Athlete of the Year: Luke Burton(track and field)
Female Iron Cat: Morgan Cochran(volleyball)
Male Iron Cat: Tawaski King(men's basketball)
Best Performance: Trey Sumler(men's basketball)
Miss WCU: Samantha Hodge(women's soccer)
Mr. WCU: Chris Everett(football)
Un-Sung Hero: Katie King(softball)
Staff Member of the Year: Cheryl Plemmons
Female SAAC Student-Athlete of the Year: Kaila'Shea Menendez(women's basketball)
Male SAAC Student-Athlete of the Year: Harouna Mutombo(men's basketball)
SAAC Spotlight Student-Athlete of the Year: Chris Everett(football)
Female A-Cat-Emy Athlete of the Year: Kaila'Shea Menendez(women's basketball)
Life-Time Achievement Award: Jim "Doc" Hamilton
Lady Catamount Coach of the Year: Karen Glover(volleyball)
Catamount Coach of the Year: Danny Williamson(track and field)
Golden Paw Award: Women's Track and Field
Lady Catamount Team of the Year: Women's Golf
Catamount Team of the Year: Men's Track and Field