Senior basketball player Ambrosia Anderson was awarded the Female Athlete of the Year (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Hundreds of Cougar athletes and Cougar Club members gathered for the annual Cougar Club Y Awards on Wednesday evening, paying tribute to the top student-athletes, coaches and volunteers for their efforts on and off the field.
The ceremony will be televised nationally on BYUTV on Friday, May 12 at 10 p.m. and Saturday, May 13 at 1:30 p.m.
"It has been a wonderful night," said BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson. "I would like to congratulate all of our winners, which includes almost 700 athletes. We are proud of our student-athletes, and we are so very grateful for them."
Lightening the mood of the evening, comedian and BYU graduate Ryan Hamilton started off the show by getting the crowd laughing. The event was hosted by ESPN's Holly Rowe.
The winners among the nominated BYU student-athletes are selected by a vote of their student-athlete peers and represent the finest accomplishments and performances of the past 12 months (April 2005-March 2006).
During that time, BYU has won two individual national championships and 11 conference championships while garnering 40 All-America citations and placing 94 individuals on all-conference teams. The Cougars have also collected seven league freshman-of-the-year awards, seven conference player-of-the-year honors and seven coach-of-the-year awards.
BYU is currently ranked 30th in the Sports Academy Director's Cup Division I standings, which ranks the top overall athletics programs in the country, making it the top Mountain West Conference school and the top school from a non-BCS conference.
Presenting the awards for the Teams of the Year were 2003 Master's Champion and BYU alumni Mike Weir and Athletics Director Tom Holmoe.
The softball team was named the Women's Team of the Year for its outstanding season in 2005, the best in program history. The team went 45-14 overall and won the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and MWC Tournament title.
The men's golf team was selected as the Men's Team of the Year. The team finished fourth at the NCAA National Championships in 2005, placed in the top three in seven of 14 tournaments and had three All-Conference selections and one All-American.
The Female Athlete of the Year award went to senior basketball star Ambrosia Anderson who was recently selected to play for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Anderson thanked everyone who was involved with the basketball program, especially her mother who has been a great support to her for 22 years.
"This is an amazing award, and I hope that the next person who receives this does amazing things for this school," she said.
The Male Athlete of the Year honor was awarded to All-American swimmer Brett Allen who broke seven records this season, was named the 12th-fastest swimmer in the nation and earned the MWC Swimmer of the Week three times.
"I was not expecting to get this or to even be nominated," he said. "It's been a great season to let the nation know that BYU is here to compete."
Female Rookie of the Year was presented to golfer Juli Wightman who was the 2005 MWC Freshman of the Year, had five top-30 finishes and helped BYU finish sixth at the NCAA West Regional and advanced to the NCAA Finals.
Male Rookie of the Year was awarded to basketball's Trent Plaisted who led BYU and all MWC freshmen in scoring and ranked among the MWC's top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and blocked shots.
The Ed Stein Outstanding Senior Male Athlete award was presented to 2005 volleyball star Mike Burke who was named an All-American, led his team in hitting percentage and blocks per game and finished his career with a .470 hitting percentage, the highest career percentage in BYU history.
The Lu Wallace Outstanding Senior Female Athlete award went to gymnast Marie-Helene Claveau who in 2005 was consistently in the nation's top 30 on vault, beam and all-around.
One of the highlights of the night was when football-player presenters Ben Criddle and Troy Sheide sang an original song about being a walk-on. Expressing their thoughts on being on the scout team, including discount clothing and free Powerade, the two were quick to point out that Bronco [Mendenhall] won't give them "Y's" to put on their helmets.
Walk-on of the Year went to football's Nate Meikle who garnered Academic All-America second-team honors for his 3.81 GPA. He caught 36 passes for 292 yards and ran for 39 yards and one touchdown during the season and led the Cougars with 12 receptions for 93 yards in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl.
"That song is no exaggeration," he said. "Thank you to the coaches and all the student-athletes, and good luck to all the scouts out there."
The Cougar Club Memorial Junior award went to Lindsy Hartsock of the women's volleyball team who led the nation in hitting percentage with a .444 mark, which ranks third all-time at BYU.
The Male Crowd Pleaser award went to men's volleyball star Ivan Perez who led the team in kills per game at 3.78 while hitting .331, the best hitting percentage for a BYU freshman outside hitter.
"A huge thank you goes to the fans," he said. " The Smith Fieldhouse is by far the best place to play in the country."
The Female Crowd Pleaser award went to women's volleyball standout Chelsea Goodman who was BYU's most dominant hitter and led the MWC all season in kills per game, finishing with a 4.25 average.
The Floyd Johnson Service award was given to cross country and track runner Brett Andrus who made a positive impact in the community and among teammates with his service on the Cougar Council in organizing the blood drive and Y-Games.
Mallary Gillespie won Play of the Year honors for her rebound and put back with :01 seconds remaining to seal a 61-60 victory at No. 24-ranked Utah. The play made ESPN commentator Chris Berman's Top-10 Plays of the Week.
The Assistant Coach of the Year honor was awarded to gymnastics beam squad coach Shauna Mertz.
Kirk and Barbara Fowler were honored as the Volunteers of the Year for their selfless service to the BYU Athletics Department without thought of recognition or reward.
"We have a passion for BYU Athletics and this award is just the icing on the cake," said Barbara Fowler.
The Leona Holbrook Spirit of Sport award was given to senior Laura Stratton of the women's basketball team who was always the first at practice and always had a positive and competitive attitude.
Another tag-team of entertainment was announcers Lloyd Newell, the "Voice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir," and Kelly Newbold, the BYU football announcer. Switching roles, they tried out each other's closing lines prompting laughs and cheers from the entire crowd.
The Dale McCann Spirit of Sport award was given to cross country and track athlete, Josh McAdams who placed seventh at the MWC Championships and earned first-team All-MWC and Mt. Region honors.
The Y Games trophy was presented to the baseball team who proved to be the largest supporters of their peers throughout the season.
The Kimball Memorial Award was given to soccer player Laura Heaton who had the highest GPA of all student-athletes with a 3.96 in audiology and speech pathology.
Track and Field coach Mark Robison was awarded Coach of the Year honors.
The Dale Rex Memorial Award's 61st recipient was Women's Track and Field head coach Craig Poole.
"Coaching here at BYU has been a wonderful opportunity," he said. "This is the only place I'd ever want to coach-it is a fantastic school with fantastic athletes."
Below is a description of each award and its winner(s).
Female Rookie of the Year
This award is given to the freshman student athlete who contributes the most in his or her freshman or redshirt freshman of the year.
Juli Wightman -- Golf
- 2005 MWC Freshman of the Year
- Had five top-30 finishes and was second on the team behind All-American Rachel Newren in stroke average
- Advanced to the quarterfinals of the USGA Public Links national tournament; helped BYU finish sixth at the NCAA West Regionals and advance to the NCAA Finals.
Male Rookie of the Year
This award is given to the freshman student athlete who contributes the most in his or her freshman or redshirt freshman of the year.
Trent Plaisted -- Basketball
- Slammed home 33 dunks this season, delighting crowds with his athletic play in the post and incredible leaping ability
- The redshirt freshman led BYU in scoring and was first in the MWC in scoring among freshman while ranking among the top 10 in the MWC in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots
- Named a National Player of the Week three times while earning All-Regoin recognition and Freshman All-America accolades
Ed Stein Outstanding Senior Male Athlete Award
The oldest recognition bestowed upon a BYU male athlete; given to the senior who has most clearly demonstrated high athletic and academic performance and sportsmanship.
Mike Burke -- Volleyball
- Named a second-team All-American by the AVCA and a first-team All-American by Asics/Volleyball Magazine while leading the team in hitting percentage at .460 and blocks per game at 1.35; he finished his career with a .470 hitting percentage, the highest career percentage in BYU history.
- Named an All-American by the National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Named Academic All-MPSF with a 3.45 GPA
Lu Wallace Outstanding Senior Female Athlete Award
The oldest recognition bestowed upon a BYU female athlete; this award is annually given to the senior who has most clearly demonstrated high athletic and academic performance and sportsmanship.
Marie-Helene Claveau -- Gymnastics
- Consistently among the nation's top 30 on vault, beam and all-around
- Five of her performances on vault, beam and floor rank among BYU's top-10 all-time best scores
- Names CoSIDA Academic All-District with a 3.99 GPA, one of only 11 athletes chosen
Walk-On of the Year
This award is given to one non-scholarship athlete at BYU who plays a significant role on his or her team.
Nate Meikle -- Football
- A business major with a 3.81 GPA, he was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Second Team
- Caught 35 passes for 292 yards and ran for 39 yards and one touchdown during the season
- Led the Cougars with 12 receptions for 93 yards in the Las Vegas Bowll
Cougar Club Memorial Junior Award
Established in memory of eight Cougar Club members who lost their lives in an airplane crash at the Point of the Mountain in November of 1965; given to an outstanding junior male or female athlete with high scholarly achievement.
Lindsy Hartsock -- Volleyball
- Named to the CoSIDA Academic District VIII Second Team with a 3.54 GPA in public health and home and family living
- Led the nation in hitting percentage with a .444 mark, which ranks third all-time at BYU; she was also sixth in the MWC with 1.23 blocks per game
- Honors include AVCA All-America Honorable Mention, Collegiate Volleyball Update National Player of the Week, AVCA West All-Region First Team and MWC Player of the Year
Crowd Pleaser -- Male
Presented to the male athlete whose enthusiasm and outstanding performance have given extra excitement to the crowd.
Ivan Perez -- Volleyball
- Was named a second-team All-American by the AVCA and Asics/Volleyball Magazine as a freshman, the highest honors earned by a BYU freshman in program history
- Led the team in kills per game at 3.78 while hitting .331, the best hitting percentage for a BYU freshman outside hitter
- Was named second-team All-MPSF and MPSF Player of the Week
Crowd Pleaser -- Female
Presented to the female athlete whose enthusiasm and outstanding performance have given extra excitement to the crowd.
Chelsea Goodman -- Volleyball
- Delighted crowds with her thunderous kills and leaping ability while recording 14 double-doubles on the year
- Was BYU's most dominant hitter while leading the MWC all season in kills per game, finishing with a 4.25 average
- Twice named the MWC Player of the Week in addition to being named to the MWC All-Tournament Team and being selected All-MWC
Floyd Johnson Service Award
Given to male or female athletes who make a positive impact in the community and among their teammates.
Brett Andrus -- Cross Country
- Served as a co-chair of the Cougar Council
- Helped organize the blood drive and the Y Games
Leona Holbrook Spirit of Sport Award
Presented in memory of Dr. Leona B. Holbrook; this award is given to the female athlete whose participation best exemplifies the true spirit of sport in athletics and in life.
Laura Stratton -- Basketball
- Has been part of the BYU program for four years and is always the first to be ready at practice; she contributes to the team both on and off the court with her always-positive personality and competitive nature
- Played in 27 of 32 games in 2005-06, more than any previous season, picking up career highs in points (7), rebounds (3) and assists (2)
- Comes off the bench and perfectly runs the Cougar offense with confidence and leadership
Dale McCann Spirit of Sport Award
Presented in memory of Dale R. McCann; this award is given to the senior male athlete whose participation best exemplifies the true spirit of sport in athletics and in life.
Josh McAdams -- Cross Country
- Placed seventh at the MWC Championships
- Earned first-team All-MWC honors
- Placed 24th at the NCAA Mountain Region meet and earned Mountain Region honors
Play of the Year
In athletic competition, there are moments where incredible performances engrave themselves into our memory. This category honors some of the truly extraordinary plays made this year.
Mallary Gillespie -- Women's Basketball
- BYU vs. Utah, Jan. 7: Mallary Gillespie's rebound and putback with :01 seconds remaining sealed a 61-60 victory at No. 24 Utah. The play made ESPN commentator Chris Berman's Top-10 Plays of the Week
Female Athlete of the Year
Given to the female athlete who demonstrates the competitive spirit of desire, dedication and determination, leading her to the top of competition and serving as an inspiration to both teammates and fans.
Ambrosia Anderson -- Basketball
- Anderson became the 18th BYU women's basketball player to eclipse the 1,000-point mark during her outstanding career
- With eight double-doubles, she led the Cougars in scoring and rebounding and was ranked second in the MWC in both categories
- The two-time All-American was selected 17th overall in the WNBA Draft
Male Athlete of the Year
Given to the male athlete who demonstrates the competitive spirit of desire, dedication and determination, leading him to the top of competition and serving as an inspiration to both teammates and fans.
Brett Allen -- Swimming
- Successfully broke seven records this season, including a 50-free record which had stood since 1979
- Undefeated in the 50 free this season, leading the Cougars to an undefeated conference season; he was ranked first in the MWC in the 50 free and third in the 100 free
- A three-time MWC Swimmer of the Week, he was ranked seventh in the nation in the 50 free and 29th in the 100 free
Kimball Memorial Award
Established to honor Eddie and Rod Kimball and their brother, Vaughn, who was killed in World War II; given to an outstanding male or female athlete who letters at least twice and who has the highest scholarly achievement of those who qualify.
Laura Heaton -- Soccer
- Two-year letterwinner
- 3.96 GPA in audiology and speech pathology
Y Games Award
A Y Game was designated on each BYU team's schedule this season and student-athletes from the other Cougar teams were encouraged to attend that game to show their support. This award is given to the team that showed the most support at the Y Games during the year.
Volunteers of the Year
Given in recognition of volunteers who selflessly serve the BYU Athletic Department without thought of recognition or reward.
Kirk and Barbara Fowler
- Currently serve as the volunteer service representatives in the Student Athlete Academic Center
- Hosts at all of the Courtside Cougar dinners
- Greeters at the hosting gate of LaVell Edwards Stadium
- Assist in student-athlete fundraising
- Give tours to youth groups
Assistant Coach of the Year
This award is annually given to an outstanding BYU assistant coach.
Shauna Mertz -- Gymnastics
- Helped the BYU gymnasts excel on the beam, proving to be the team's most consistent event
- BYU scored its 10th-highest mark in school history this season
Coach of the Year
This award is annually given to an outstanding BYU head coach.
Mark Robison -- Men's Track & Field
- Won the MWC Championship for both the indoor and outdoor seasons while placing fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and 15th at the NCAA Indoor Championships
- During his 18 total years at BYU, the Cougars have won 18 Indoor MWC Championships and 17 Outdoor Championships; he has coached 30 All-Americans and 105 conference champions
Team of the Year
Given annually to the outstanding men's and women's team of the year.
Women's -- Softball
- Achieved a 45-14 record, winning the MWC regular-season title and the MWC Tournament title
- Won perhaps the biggest game in program history with an upset over No. 2 Cal in the NCAA Tournament
Men's -- Golf
- Finished fourth at the 2005 NCAA Championships
- Placed in the top three in seven of 14 tournaments
Dale Rex Memorial Award
Given annually to the individual thought by the Cougar Club to have contributed most to amateur athletics in the state of Utah.
R. Craig Poole -- Women's Track & Field
- Since 1983, his teams have won 35 of 38 conference titles
- Coached 15 individual national champions
- Has served on the coaching staffs of numerous national and Olympic teams