April 6, 2007
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Vanderbilt University distance runner Erika Schneble is the female recipient of the 2006-2007 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Friday.
Schneble, a 2004 track All-American from Hendersonville, N.C., becomes just the second Commodore student-athlete to ever claim the prestigious award. Former women's basketball standout Michelle Palmisano was the recipient in 1996. She shares the academic recognition with University of Alabama baseball player Emeel Salem.
"The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive in the Southeastern Conference," Slive said. "Erika and Emeel have displayed dedication and commitment to success in all phases of their lives that have made them excellent selections for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award. The SEC and AT&T are extremely proud to honor these two student-athletes for their accomplishments."
Schneble, competing in track as a fifth-year senior, is currently working toward a Master's of Art degree in medicine, health and society. She maintains a 3.90 grade point average. She earned undergraduate degrees in neuroscience and art history last May, graduating Magna cum Laude.
"This means a great deal to me for many reasons, one being that academics has always been a very important part of life. It's one of the main reasons why I decided to attend Vanderbilt," Schneble said. "I am truly honored and thankful to receive this award from the Southeastern Conference."
She is a three-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and is a 2004 CoSIDA Academic All-America District IV honoree. She was named a Vanderbilt University College of Arts & Sciences Scholar in 2002 and has been on the Dean's List each semester. She was also named as one of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Community of Scholars, a research community participating in scientific research.
Recently, Schneble also learned of her admission to medical school in Virginia.
"All of us at Vanderbilt are tremendously proud of Erika and her achievements as a student-athlete. Erika represents everything that is right about intercollegiate athletics and all the attributes this university is seeking in its student-athletes. On the track, Erika is an SEC champion and school record holder. In the classroom, she's even more exceptional. We are delighted that the SEC has recognized her superb accomplishments in both areas," Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor David Williams II said.
On the track, Schneble is a four-year letterwinner who enjoyed arguably the greatest season ever by a Vanderbilt distance runner in 2004 when she claimed the SEC outdoor 5,000-meter title and All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and numerous individual team records.
Commodore first-year distance coach Steve Keith said Schneble "is a coach's dream and a tremendous role model for our team."
"I have relied on Erika quite a bit for leadership and guidance, a role which has seemed quite natural for her," Keith said. "A dean's list student, SEC champion and All-American on the track, Erika is the quinessential "scholar-athlete" and a real gem within the SEC."
At the 2004 NCAA Championships, Schneble ran with on an aching foot to claim eighth overall in the 5,000-meter run. Two just weeks earlier, she became the Commodores' first SEC 5,000-meter titliest with a 16:22.92 clocking. Earlier in the 2004 outdoor season, she set the team 5,000-meter record of 16:08.18 at the Stanford Invitational, and claimed the individual 5,000-meter title at the prestigious Drake Relays. Schneble also set one indoor team record and more than 10 personal records during the 2004 season. She also earned All-SEC honors in cross country that season.
After missing all of 2005 to injury, Schneble returned last year to finish second in the SEC outdoor 5,000. This winter, Schneble set another Commodore record in the indoor 3,000-meter run, and notched an eighth place finish in the SEC indoor 5,000.
Schneble has been solid this spring in her final Commodore outdoor campaign. She ran the team's fastest 5,000 of the season and established an NCAA Regional qualifier with a 16:40.71 performance in Northern California on March 31.
The McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is being released to coincide with National Student-Athlete Day, which was created in 1987 by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and presented by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
National Student-Athlete Day is held each April 6 to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. It is also a time to recognize those parents, teachers, coaches and school systems which make it possible for young people to find the balance between academics and athletics.
"This is the 20th anniversary of National Student-Athlete Day. It has been two decades of honoring America's amazing student-athletes," said Richard Lapchick, Director of the NCAS and Chair of DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. "Of all the ways we have tried to do this, I believe SEC's McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Program and scholarships may be the best model for all others. I hope I get the chance to meet this year's winner because I am confident the winner will be a great example of a real scholar-citizen-athlete. I want to personally thank the winner for helping to make this a better world."
The SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards were first presented in 1986. The honor was renamed the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year in May 1990 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1972-86.
Past McWhorter Award recipients include:
2006 - Rudy Niswanger, LSU (football) and Sarah Lowe, Florida (basketball);
2005 - Rob Robertson, Ole Miss (football) and Lauryn McCalley, Tennessee (diving);
2004 - Caesar Garcia, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Lauren Imwalle, Alabama (soccer);
2003 - Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball) and Kristin Sterner, Alabama (gymnastics);
2002 - Trey Dyson, South Carolina (baseball) and Tiffany Woolley, Arkansas (softball);
2001 - Scott Westerfield, Mississippi State (football) and Kim Black, Georgia (swimming);
2000 - Joey Pitts, Georgia (tennis) and Lisette Lee, LSU (golf);
1999 - Jeff Zurcher, Kentucky (football) and Jessica Field, Arkansas (volleyball);
1998 - Jeremy Jackson, Mississippi State (baseball) and Shani Abshier, South Carolina (volleyball);
1997 - Andrew DeVooght, Georgia (swimming) and Meredith Willard, Alabama (gymnastics);
1996 - Martin Nyberg, LSU (swimming) and Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt (basketball);
1995 - Michael Blanchard, LSU (football) and April Ecke, Mississippi State (cross country);
1994 - Peter Duitsman, South Carolina (soccer) and Tammy Newlon, Mississippi State (basketball);
1993 - Lang Wiseman, Tennessee (basketball) and Aimee York, Mississippi State (volleyball);
1992 - Jeff Laubenthal, Alabama (baseball) and Jenifer Kleyn, Auburn (volleyball);
1991 - Al Parker, Georgia (tennis) and Patty Wiegand, Tennessee (track and cross country);
1990 - Burke Masters, Mississippi State (baseball) and Janice Kerr, Florida (gymnastics);
1989 - Mikael Olander, LSU (track) and Deanne Burnett, Georgia (swimming);
1988 - Danny Hoskins, Ole Miss (football) and Linda Leith, Georgia (swimming);
1987 - Jeff Noblin, Ole Miss (football) and Julie Estin, Alabama (gymnastics);
1986 - John Young, Tennessee (track) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming).