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Student-Athletes Honored at Athletics Awards Banquet

Student-Athletes Honored at Athletics Awards Banquet

The Mills College Athletics, PE, and Recreation department held its 36th annual Athletics Awards Banquet on Friday, April 13. The program recognized outstanding student-athletes in several categories including scholarship, leadership, community service, and athletic excellence.

The night commenced with scholarship awards, highlighting the efforts of Mills student-athletes in the classroom. This year thirty-one Cyclones were recognized as Mills College Scholar-Athletes for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above. The highest team GPA award went to the swim team for spring 2017 and the tennis team for fall 2017. The swim team finished the spring 2017 semester with a collective GPA of 3.53 and the tennis team earned a 3.62 in the fall. Individual GPA awards went to the student-athlete on each team with the highest cumulative GPA. This year's awardees were: Laura Schultz (cross country and rowing), Jessica Wong (soccer), Heather Larson (swimming), Dana Culpepper (tennis), and Alexandra Fitzmaurice (volleyball).

Three team received national awards for their academics. The swim team earned the Team Scholar All-American Award from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America for both the spring 2017 and fall 2017 semester, the 16th consecutive year that they have achieved this. Six rowers earned Scholar-Athlete distinction from the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. Melissa Berkay, Ellie Berke, Marilyn Claes, Sarah Dawson, Emma Hohulin, and Annie Wolf all exceeded the required 3.5 GPA and raced in at least 75% of the spring races. Four tennis players were named Scholar-Athletes by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. In addition, the team was named an ITA All-Academic Team.

The academic awards culminated with the presentation of the Trefethen Award, presented annually to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative GPA. This year's recipient, Heather Larson, was a two-year member of the swim team, competing in each of her years at Mills. Dedicated to both her team and her academics she graduated in December with a degree in psychology. She was recently inducted into the Mills chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and will present at both the Western Psychological Association and American Psychological Society conferences this spring.

This year's Alumnae Athletic Achievement Award winner was Meg Smaker, class of 2012. Meg participated in volleyball, track and field, and swimming while at Mills. She went on to get her masters degree in documentary film from Stanford and is now an award winning documentary filmmaker. Her film, Boxedora, won several awards including a student Academy Award. 

The APER Service Award, established to recognize outstanding contribution to and support of the Mills Athletics program, was awarded to former assistant athletic trainer Hilary Worthen. Hilary worked at Mills for six and a half years and despite being a part-time employee, truly gave her all to Mills. Dedicated and passionate, she cared for APER and for the well-being of each student-athlete she worked with. Her thoughtfulness and caring was evident in her ability to think ahead and take initiative and her creativity inspired her co-workers, student-athletes, and sports medicine interns.

The Rookie of the Year Award was presented to Hannah Soltz. Hannah was a spring transfer and joined the swim team in January. She made an immediate impact both in and out of the pool. Her willingness to jump in and start competing, even though she didn't feel fully ready, and to share her perspective with her teammates was invaluable. At the team's championship meet in February, Hannah swam her way to five All Time Top Ten times. She is now second in the 50 breast, third in the 100 and 200 breast, and fifth in the 100 and 200 IM. Additionally, she was a part of the second fastest 200 Medley Relay and was on three school record setting relays.

The Janet Holmgren Student-Athlete Service Award is presented to a student-athlete in recognition of outstanding service to Mills College and the greater Bay Area. This year's recipient was Coco Kennedy. A two year member of the cross country team and one year swimmer, Coco's remarkable contribution to community service is highlighted by her talents in leadership, collaboration, and altruism. She is the head beekeeper at Chez Panisse where she conducts beekeeping seminars and works to promote the sustainability of bee colonies. Additionally she volunteers at the UC Berkeley native bee garden, conducts trail maintenance with Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Martin Luther King Middle School, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. On campus she is a two year member of the Student Athlete Advisory Group (SAAC), a two time captain of the cross country team, and an outstanding leader on both of her teams.

Senior rower, Julian Mokgoatsana was awarded the Myrt Whitcomb Leadership Award. Established in 2003, the Myrt Whitcomb Award honors the wise and compassionate leadership demonstrated by former Dean of Students, Myrt Whitcomb. It is presented to a student-athlete in recognition of outstanding leadership on their team, within APER, and within the broader Mills community. Julian is a three-year member of the rowing team and has led the team as a coxswain each year. The varsity coxswain for the past two years, Julian holds herself and her teammates to high standards. This year, working with a primarily novice group, Julian's leadership has been invaluable to the team. Outside of rowing she is a double major in International Relations and Anthropology and is involved around campus in many ways. She is an RA for first year students, the Historian for the Associated Students of Mills College, works at the Mail and Copy Center, and is the Editor in Chief of the Crest Yearbook.

The Dorothy Keller Athletic Merit Award was given to junior Alex Pineda. Alex takes immense pride in the soccer program and Mills and has worked fiercely to raise the level of both in her time at Mills. Head coach, Lilia Dosalmas spoke about Alex's Cyclone Heart, noting that she never misses a practice or game, brings her teammates up when they are having a hard time, and leaves it all on the field. For the past three years, she has played all 90 minutes of every game. In the face of challenges, she finds a way to face them with strength and never lose hope.

The final portion of the evening recognized all of our Cyclones for their commitment, sacrifice, and determination. First, second, and third year team awards were presented to each Cyclones, culminating in the celebration of senior and four-year student-athletes. These student-athletes have given countless hours to their teams and to the APER department. This year volleyball player, Alexandra Fitzmaurice was recognized for her four year commitment to her team, an outstanding accomplishment.

Finally, this year's banquet introduced a new award to honor a person who has had immeasurable impact on Mills College Athletics, PE, and Recreation, the Division of Student Life, and Mills College as a whole. An advocate, mentor, and leader, Themy Adachi has been the all-around MVP for APER for the past 36 years. She has been a championship volleyball coach, in charge of the pool, taught PE courses, run outdoor excursions, and served as director of APER and Assistant Dean of Students for the past 18 years. Themy's impact extends beyond Mills, both locally and nationally. She is innovative, hardworking, dedicated, and makes everyone proud to be a Cyclone. Starting next year, the Themy Adachi Impact Award will be given to a student-athlete who embodies some of Themy's many incredible qualities.

Congratulations to all of the award winners and to all of our student-athletes on another impressive year!