PROVO, UT (April 3, 2003) Senior All-American Erin Thorn and junior forward Heather Cheesman were recognized at the annual Cougar Club 2003 Athletic Awards Banquet.
Erin Thorn received the Crowd Pleaser Award while teammate Heather Cheesman was recognized with the Floyd Johnson Service Award.
Erin Thorn -- Crowd Pleaser Award
No. 11 Erin Thorn leaves her name engraved on numerous BYU record-breaking performances as she concludes her stellar college career. To date, the 5-10 senior guard has garnered three All-American awards, thrilling thousands of basketball fans along the way.
Erin is the school's all-time three-point leader both in points per game (9 tallied on 12/14/02 against Arkansas Pine Bluff) and in three-pointers made in a career. The single-game record of nine treys is for the Cougars' men's and women's team.
Other career setting numbers include becoming the fourth BYU women's basketball star to join the 2,000-point club. She also ranks fourth in assists and in games played and fifth in steals. Her individual single-game highlights include five 30+point games with back-to-back 30's at this year's MWC Championships with 34 vs. UNLV and 30 against Utah.
Two of her all-American citations came from the Women's Basketball News Service. The other was as a Kodak All-American Honorable Mention honoree.
Thorn's crowd-pleasing performances are also etched in MWC record books. For example, she received three Player of the Week honors, one Second Team All-Conference award, and three citations to the MWC All-Conference First Team, four consecutive MWC All-Tournament awards and was last year's MWC Tournament MVP.
Erin also left her record-breaking, crowd-pleasing performances etched in the record books of the MWC as well. At the conclusion of this year's tournament from Las Vegas, she had set a new league tournament record with 76 points to become the all-time leader in tournament scoring with 199 point. And she is the only player in MWC tournament history to record 30-points in back-to-back games.
This past season she was named to the "Players To Watch" list for the 2003 Senior CLASS Award.
In her four years donning the Cougar blue she led the team in scoring, three years in assists and guided the team to four post-season tournaments including two consecutive NCAA appearances. She was instrumental in leading the BYU team to its first NCAA win in last year's championship which took the Cougars to their first-ever "Sweet Sixteen" appearance.
BYU women's basketball fans will forever remember the ease with which Erin made critical three-pointers, her fiery determination on the court, and that certain look she'd get just before making a late-game free throw that guaranteed a Cougar victory.
Heather Cheesman -- Floyd Johnson Service Award
At the peak of her basketball career, in the practice before the game against instate rival Utah, Heather Cheesman had an accident that bruised her spinal cord and left her legs swollen and numb; Heather was temporarily paralyzed. Ironically, out of that devastating injury came the inspiration that propelled Heather's teammates to the MWC Championship title and the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen
With one of the team's star players in the hospital, the team came together both on and off the court in order to find comfort and success.
Knowing her injury left Heather unable to perform the simplest of tasks, her teammates arranged for one of them to with her in her hospital room around the clock-all with big games on the horizon. The service the team provided to Heather and her family during the three weeks she spent in the hospital was vital in her recovery.
Today, Heather continues to offer similar support to others. A frequent visitor at the practices, she helps her teammates develop and lends encouragement, especially to her sister Danielle. "She has made a conscious effort to stay a part of the team," Bills said.
She also spends time speaking to youth groups as the keynote speaker when the team holds local firesides. Last year, Heather traveled with the team to speak to the youth groups, giving a different perspective on life and basketball, and to encourage the youth to not take things for granted. She also took part in the Buff Don't Puff, anti-tobacco program, in which athletes went to schools to encourage students to refrain from using tobacco.
The day of the Utah basketball game, the team came out with the No. 50 written in black ink on their tape. "No one took for granted their opportunity to play. The team stepped up its play and came together in Heather's defense," assistant coach Alli Bills said.
Heather and her teammates turned tragedy into triumph; armed with her example, BYU defeated Utah 77-56 and won 13 of their last 16 games, winning the MWC tournament and making it to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. BYU also captured its first win in the NCAA tournament and an upset win over favored Iowa State on their home court.