COLUMBUS, Miss. – On the beautiful spring evening of Tuesday, May 1 at Events Off Fifth, The W Athletics department hosted the inaugural Owls Awards Ceremony to recognize the many contributions of the student-athletes, coaches, and staff during the 2017-18 season.
The most coveted awards of the night, Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year, were given to Will Peters, a freshman baseball player, and Katlyn Duke, a junior softball player, respectively. As a member of the Owls baseball team, Peters, a utility player, appeared in 31 games for a .940 fielding percentage and a .349 batting average. Defensively, Peters holds the second highest number of innings pitched at 49 and offensively, he has gained a total of 46 bases.
On the softball field, Duke leads the team with 32 RBIs and has a team high of 52 total bases. She currently holds a fielding percentage of .932 and a batting average of .321. In the Owls home opener, Duke was responsible for grounding out to second base to give her teammate Heidi Matthews the chance to come home and record the Owls first run of the season.
The Owls Heart and Soul Award, an honor given to the student-athlete who stands out and goes beyond the game while exemplifying school spirit and sportsmanship on and off the field, was awarded to John McGee, a member of both the baseball and men's soccer teams. McGee was key in his team's successes and portrayed a great attitude and can-do approach. He upheld the Owls four core values; academics, athletics, community, and life.
The women's cross country team excelled in the classroom to obtain a 3.34 grade point average to have the highest GPA of all competing teams. For their accomplishment, women's cross country received the Team Academic Award.
The Coaching Staff of Year Award is given to the coaching staff who has demonstrated honesty, integrity, concern for the student-athletes, and excellence in performance. With a 19-13 regular season record and the third highest team GPA, the Coaching Staff of the Year Award was awarded to Matt Wolfenbarger and Ben Russell, baseball. This season baseball pulled a nine game winning streak and is currently ranked seventh in the USCAA Coaches Poll, peaking at fourth in week two.
Outside of major awards, each coach awarded a team's Coach's Award and a team's Most Valuable Player Award. The Coach's Award is given to the student-athlete on each team who is pleasant to be around, enthusiastic, always willing to learn, and does everything they can to be a help to their team on and off the field. Most Valuable Player recognition is given to the person who is a proven leader and has shown commitment to their team and the competition.
The 2017-18 Coach's Award recipients are Carol-Ann Gibbs, cross country, Sam Harvey, men's soccer, Megan Parks, volleyball, Prince Tolbert, baseball, and Mateline Newman, softball.
The 2017-18 MVP Awards were given to Karigan Bonner, cross country, John McGee, men's soccer, Tori Weir, volleyball, Damain Benefield, baseball, and Heidi Matthews, softball.
A final award, The Owls Service Award was presented to a member of The W community who has gone above and beyond the call of duty and mad a visible impact on the lives of the student-athletes. The 2017-18 Owls Service Award recipient is James Traywick with GCA Facilities. James has been an enormous asset to the athletic department as well as to all the student-athletes. He not only assisted with preparing offices for the staff, but helped make the athletic facility visions become a reality.