Vanderbilt Athletics

Black & Gold Banquet celebrates student-athletes

April 17, 2017

Vanderbilt athletics gathered Monday night to celebrate the department's student-athletes at the annual Black & Gold Banquet.

The night was capped by All-American Simone Charley being named Miss Commodore and football player Oren Burks being named Mr. Commodore. All Vanderbilt student-athletes voted on the award, which goes to seniors who best represent their sport, all student-athletes and the campus community. Both Charley and Burks are in their fourth years at Vanderbilt.

A three-time All-American in the triple jump, Charley has also been a leading scorer on the Commodores' soccer team. She broke her own school record in the triple jump at the SEC Indoor Championships and was recently invited to the U.S. Soccer Under-23 National Team Camp. The Birmingham, Ala. native is double majoring in psychology and sociology and will be in graduate school here in the Fall in MHS.

As a co-captain on the football team, Burks has amassed more than 150 tackles and four interceptions as a three-year starter playing both safety and linebacker.

Away from the field, he has been a leader on campus and in the surrounding Nashville community. In the past year, he has been named a finalist for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup Award, and a member of the national Allstate-American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team and has been nominated for the prestigious Lott and Wuerffel awards -- all honors that focuses on all-around achievement. He helped create Revitalizing & Empowering Vanderbilt's African-American Male Population, which was named the campus' top new organization last year.

2017 Black & Gold Award Winners
Newcomer of the Year
Female - Maria Bulanova (Bowling)
Bulanova, a freshman from Moscow, Russia, was Vanderbilt's anchor bowler and had a dominating season in which she ranked third nationally in overall scoring average. She was also ranked high in many other NCAA statistical categories and named a first team All-American.

Male - Patrick Raby (Baseball)
Raby enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign in 2016, earning Freshman All-American status for the Commodores. The right-hander from Knoxville, Tenn. worked his way into the starting rotation before finishing the season with a 7-1 record and 2.61 ERA in 15 games, including 10 starts. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first career start against Eastern Illinois to pick up his first career win.

Player of the Year
Female - Astra Sharma (Women's Tennis)
Sharma began the season ranked No. 2 in the nation and has led the entire SEC throughout the year as the highest ranked player in the conference. She had the most prolific fall of any women's tennis player, reaching the semifinals in both ITA individual national championships. She has been ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation alongside Emily Smith in doubles.

Male - Matthias Schwab (Men's Golf)
Schwab, a two-time All-American, continued his stellar play in his senior season, garnering three top finishes and five top 10's and has finished no worse than 12th all season. For his career, the senior from Rohrmoos, Austria, now has 12 top-five finishes and 17 top-10 finishes, while also finishing runner-up or better seven times in his career. This season, Schwab has a 91.0% winning percentage against his opponents, and for his four-year career, has defeated an astonishing 86.8% of his opponents.

Comeback Player of the Year
Female - Courtney Clayton (Track)
Clayton ruptured her plantar fascia in the first few steps of SEC 800m race but continued to run and place 5th overall, then two weeks later competed at NCAAs. She earned second team All-American honors after finishing 12th in the 800-meter run at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track National Championships. Clayton has set three all-time school records during the 2017 season alone including the 800-meter run, distance medley relay and 4x800 relay. During her four-year career as a Commodore athlete, she has set six school records and ranks among the top 10 in Vanderbilt history for 14 different categories.

Male - Luke Kornet (Men's Basketball)
Kornet overcame injuries throughout his career to become the Commodores' all-time leader in career blocks with 210 while also being named first team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team as a senior.

James A. Robins Award
Luke Kornet (Men's Basketball)
Kornet is a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and a three-time member of the SEC Community Service Team. He also won the program's first SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year Award in his senior season and was named a second team Academic All-American, only the fifth Vanderbilt player to be honored on either the first or second teams.

The James A. Robins award is given annually to perpetuate the memory of Jim Robins, class of 1892, whose life and teaching exemplified selfless devotion to learning, to honor, to participate in sports and service to youth and Vanderbilt. "Mr. Jim" became a Latin and Greek professor and it is said he never missed a game and even attended some practice sessions. This award has been presented for 53 years to the senior student-athlete in whose life these virtues are most evident. A plaque hangs on the first floor of the Sarratt Student center beyond the Baseball Glove Lounge to celebrate this award and honor the legacy of Jim Robins.

Community Service Award
Jake Van Geffen (Cross Country)
Van Geffen -- who was recently awarded a postgraduate scholarship by the NCAA -- was active in the community throughout his career and made a big impact in the Nashville-area and beyond. He was the Outreach Coordinator for the American Society of Civil Engineers and served as a Reading Tutor at an elementary school in Nashville. Van Geffen also was the Site Leader for the Alternative Winter Break Program during a service trip to Charleston, S.C. He has been a star in the classroom and on the cross country course for the Commodores during his career. The civil engineering major has a 3.919 GPA and he was Vanderbilt's top finisher in five of the team's six races this season.

Dr. Jerry Reves Award
Claire Anderson (Soccer)
Anderson will graduate this spring with a degree in Economics and minors in corporate strategy and financial economics. A four-time member of the SEC honor roll, she boasts a cumulative GPA of 3.966. The Seattle-native made an impact on the soccer field playing 69 games for the black and gold. She plans to take a year off and travel before entering the work force.

The Dr. Jerry Reves award is presented annually to the graduating senior student-athlete that has been at Vanderbilt at least 6 semesters, with the highest cumulative grade point average. Dr. Reves played tennis at Vanderbilt and graduated in 1965. He went on to a long and very successful career in medicine and recently retired from his position as Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the College of Medicine at the University of South Carolina.

Godfrey Dillard Award
Nigel Bowden (Football) Nigel Bowden was one of the Southeastern Conference's top newcomers in 2014, earning SEC All-Freshman honors after leading all first-year contributors in total tackles. Early in the 2015 season, he faced a far more difficult challenge when he was forced to miss the last 10 games of the regular season after suffering concussion syndrome during the Georgia game. After recovering through the offseason, he came back this year to earn a starting role at linebacker only to have his playing career cut short after the third game due to a recurrence of the injury.

Despite the career-ending injury, the Dillard Award winner has worked diligently toward his ultimate goal of earning a Vanderbilt undergraduate degree. A two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient, he is on schedule to graduate this December with a degree in Medicine, Health & Society.

This new award will be presented annually to a student-athlete that has overcome adversity on or off the field, honoring the legacy of Mr. Dillard.

Shining Star Award
Football: Andrew Jelks
Women's Tennis: Summer Dvorak
Lacrosse: Abby Quirk
Men's Golf: Zach Herr
Men's Cross Country: Waqqas Fazili
Soccer: Claire Anderson
Men's Basketball: Nolan Cressler
Women's basketball: Myka Dancy
Bowling: Giselle Poss
Swimming: Maddie Hunt
Women's Golf: Abby Carlson
Track & Field: Sarah Goodale
Women's Cross Country: Caroline Pietrzyk
Men's Tennis: Panu Virtanen
Baseball: Jason Delay

The Shining Star Award is voted on by each team, and given to a team member who is an unsung hero and who embodies the spirit of Vanderbilt Athletics.

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