BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern College named its annual Athletes of the Year this evening at the Athletic Awards Banquet, held in Bruno Great Hall on the BSC campus.
On the women's side, senior volleyball libero Jennifer McKannan and junior softball pitcher Ronni Ferris were named Co-Female Athletes of the Year; on the men's side, senior baseball outfielder Drew Leachman, senior football tailback Walter Arrington, and sophomore lacrosse attacker Matt Ivie were named Co-Male Athletes of the Year.
Joe Thigpen (football) and Katie Sack (cross country/track & field) were honored as the Johnny Johnson Most Inspirational Senior Student-Athletes.
BSC also added four new honors this year, naming freshman golfer Ellen Chun and freshman sprinter Tiarra Goode the Co-Female Newcomers of the Year, and freshman soccer defender Cory Gonzalez and freshman pole vaulter Hank Ballard the Co-Male Newcomers of the Year. The BSC Men's Basketball team was also named Team of the Year.
Jennifer McKannan (Huntsville, Ala./Grissom HS) was the 2010 SCAC Defensive Volleyball Player of the Year and Second-Team All-Conference. She led the league and was ranked 18th in the nation in digs per set (6.03).
Ronni Ferris (Cincinnati, Ohio/McNicholas HS) was Second-Team All-Conference en route to helping the Panthers win their first-ever SCAC East Division title. She threw a perfect game on April 2 against Sewanee, and was named SCAC Pitcher of the Week twice.
Drew Leachman (Mobile, Ala./McGill-Toolen Catholic HS) was named SCAC Offensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Conference. He helped BSC win its third straight SCAC East Division title. Leachman led the league in batting average (.451), on-base percentage (.521), runs (60), and hits (73), ranking second in the nation in the last two categories.
Walter Arrington (Hueytown, Ala./Bessemer Academy) was First-Team All-Conference, leading the league in rushing yards with 1,185 in 10 games.
Matt Ivie (Alpharetta, Ga./Blessed Trinity HS) was named SCAC Offensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Conference earlier today. He led the nation in goals per game (4.06) and led the league in goals, points, and shots.
Ellen Chun (Hoover, Ala./Hoover HS) is ranked fourth in the nation, and was ranked as high as second earlier in the season. She broke the BSC single-round record at the 'Southern Shootout on Oct. 10, shooting 66.
Tiarra Goode (Huntsville, Ala./J.O. Johnson HS) finished the SCAC regular season ranked first in the nation in the 100-meter hurdles. She was a provisional national qualifier in the 100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, and 200-meter dash.
Cory Gonzalez (Birmingham, Ala./John Carroll Catholic HS) anchored the BSC men's soccer defense this past season. He was named All-Tournament and Defensive MVP at the Kyle Rote, Jr., Invitational, hosted by Sewanee.
Hank Ballard (Hoover, Ala./Hoover HS) was the top pole vaulter in the SCAC this season as a freshman, and won the pole vault title at two meets this season.
Joe Thigpen (Crestview, Fla./Crestview HS) was a four-year stand-out quarterback for BSC. Aside from his success on the gridiron and in the classroom, he is heavily involved in mission work, both in his home town of Crestview, Fla., and in Birmingham.
Katie Sack (Goshen, Ky./Assumption HS) is a member of the cross country and track & field teams. Although she was injured this season and could not run, she remains an inspiration to her teammates and fellow students, volunteering with many causes both on and off campus.
The Johnny Johnson Most Inspirational Senior Student-Athlete Award is named for the late Vice President for Business and Finance at Birmingham-Southern College, who died suddenly from a heart ailment in 2001. Johnson was an avid supporter of BSC athletics.
For Team of the Year, the Panther men's basketball team earned the honor after winning the 2011 SCAC regular season title with a record of 23-4 overall and 14-2 in the conference.