Michigan State Announces Major Athletic Award Winners
Bridges and Ehrhardt share Alderton Male Athlete of the Year honors; Burnham repeats as Alderton Female Athlete of the Year.
EAST LANSING -
Eight Michigan State University student-athletes have been recognized for excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom, earning the school's highest athletic awards for 2017-18.
The awards include the George Alderton Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Big Ten Conference Medals of Honor, Chester Brewer Leadership Award and Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award. A panel of administrators and coaches selected the winners.
Men’s basketball sophomore Miles Bridges (Flint, Michigan) and track and field redshirt senior Tim Ehrhardt (Addison, Illinois) share George Alderton Male Co-Athletes of the Year honors, while senior golfer Sarah Burnham (Maple Grove, Minnesota) earns George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year accolades for the second straight year after sharing the award with Tori Jankoska in 2017.
Bridges was a consensus Second Team All-American and a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten performer as the men’s basketball team posted a 30-5 record and captured a Big Ten Championship. Ehrhardt won a Big Ten Championship in the outdoor pole vault, and earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships during both the indoor (pole vault – second team) and outdoor (decathlon – first team) seasons.
Burnham was named Big Ten Player of the Year for a second straight season after leading the Spartans to a Big Ten Women's Golf Championship, finishing second as an individual. She was voted to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-America Second Team, becoming the second three-time WGCA All-American in program history.
Men’s soccer senior Jimmy Fiscus (Novi, Michigan) and women’s track and field redshirt senior Katelyn Daniels (Lewis Center, Ohio) were named Michigan State's recipients for the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor. The Big Ten Conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work."
Men’s basketball senior Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. (Nassau, Bahamas) was named the recipient of the Chester Brewer Leadership Award.
Softball senior Lea Foerster (Portage, Michigan) and men’s tennis senior Jasper Koenen (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) were selected to share the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award.
AWARD - WINNER
George Alderton Male Co-Athletes of the Year – Miles Bridges (basketball) / Tim Ehrhardt (track & field)
George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year - Sarah Burnham (golf)
Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Male) – Jimmy Fiscus (soccer)
Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Female) – Katelyn Daniels (track & field)
Chester Brewer Leadership Award – Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. (basketball)
Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award – Lea Foerster (softball) / Jasper Koenen (tennis)
GEORGE ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
(Presented to top male athlete of 2017-18)
CO-WINNER: Miles Bridges (basketball)
After an extremely successful freshman campaign, Miles Bridges shocked the college basketball world with his decision to return to Michigan State for his sophomore season. The decision proved to be a good one as Bridges led the Spartans to a 30-5 record, including a Big Ten Championship, while earning consensus Second Team All-America honors.
“This is as much an award for my teammates as it is for me,” Bridges said. “It’s a great honor and I wouldn’t be here without them and without Coach (Tom) Izzo. We had a great year and it was a lot of fun playing with this team. We made bonds and memories that will last a lifetime. I give all the credit to them.
“There are a lot of great athletes at Michigan State and it means a lot to be recognized with them. It’s an honor to share this award with Tim Ehrhardt who is strong in so many different events. ”
Bridges was the No. 12 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers on June 21 (and later traded to the Charlotte Hornets). As a sophomore, he was a unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection and was named a Second Team All-American by The Sporting News, the United States Basketball Writers Association, USA Today and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this award than Miles Bridges,” Izzo said. “He’s as well rounded of an athlete as you will find when you look at what he embodies physically, mentally and socially. Not only will our basketball program miss Miles, but so will the community. People of all ages loved Miles and he embraced them all.
“Congratulations to Tim Ehrhardt as well. His list of championships and All-America honors over many events is very impressive.”
Bridges led Michigan State in scoring with 17.0 points per game, was second on the team with 7.0 rebounds and third on the team with 2.8 assists per game. He ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring, 11th in rebounding and fourth in the league in free throw percentage (85.3 percent).
He was one of just four players in the country to average at least 17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.8 blocks per game.
Bridges becomes the eighth different Spartan basketball player (nine total honors) to be named the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year.
CO-WINNER: Tim Ehrhardt (track and field)
Tim Ehrhardt capped off his storied Michigan State track and field career with a stellar senior campaign, earning two All-America honors during his final season.
A native of Addison, Illinois, Ehrhardt ended his MSU career with a Big Ten title and a school record in 2018. He won his first outdoor Big Ten pole vault record, clearing a personal best 5.41m. He also captured the school record in the decathlon with 8,044 points at the Virginia Challenge in April. The school record earned him a spot in the NCAA Championships where he earned First Team All-America honors by placing sixth in the decathlon. During the indoor season, he also captured Second Team All-America honors in the pole vault.
“It is really special to earn this honor. In terms of track and field, we don’t always get noticed as much as some of the super popular sports like football and basketball. So to bring a little attention to track and field and win this award twice is really special, especially to win this award with Miles Bridges, he is such an amazing athlete,” Ehrhardt said.
Ehrhardt returned to form during the 2017 indoor season after recovering from injuries in 2016. Ehrhardt captured the Big Ten Indoor Championship with a vault of 5.49m (18-0). He was named an All-American after finishing fourth in pole vault at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships with a mark of 5.50 meters (18-0.5). The junior’s amazing comeback continued in the outdoor season once again earning All-America honors in the grueling decathlon. Ehrhardt finished 14th with 7,455 points to garner Second Team All-America accolades.
“First of all I’d like to thank my parents who came to almost every meet regardless of the shape or condition I was in. I couldn’t do anything without the coaches. They spend a lot of time with me, thinking about how to handle a competition or progress as an athlete, especially Coach (Walt) Drenth and Coach (Ceith) Creekmur. Our athletic trainer, Renee (Kleszczynski) has been a really big help this year, probably one of the biggest helps considering that the decathlon requires so much physical assistance,” Ehrhardt said.
The 2015 season was a breakout one for the multi-faceted athlete, earning first-team All-America honors in the NCAA Outdoor Championship in the decathlon, finishing fifth with 7,677 points. He was also the runner-up in the decathlon at the Big Ten Outdoor Championship. During the indoor season, he earned his first Big Ten pole vault title, clearing a mark of 5.37m (17-7.25).
Overall, Ehrhardt ended his Michigan State career with a total of six All-American honors, including three during indoor season and three outdoor honors.
“It is really special. The history of Michigan State athletics is rich and long, and to be part of something with that kind of exclusive club is really special. It speaks to Tim’s talent; it speaks to Tim’s work ethic; it speaks to his leadership. Coach Creekmur did an outstanding job with him,” MSU Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth said. “Honestly, with what he went through this spring speaks to his toughness. It was remarkable that he was able to keep going given the injury to his finger. I am really proud of him and thankful to Coach Creekmur for all his hard work. Tim is certainly in tremendous company with Miles Bridges; there is no question about it.”
Ehrhardt is just the fourth different track & field athlete to be named the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year, joining Brad Gebauer (2006), Paul Terek (2002) and Anthony Hamm (1992). He is also just the fifth MSU male athlete to earn the Alderton award in back-to-back years. He joins Greg Jones (football - 2010-11), Jeff Lerg (hockey - 2007-08), Mateen Cleaves (basketball - 1999-2000) and Ron Scott (hockey - 1982-83).
PAST WINNERS - ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: 2017-Tim Ehrhardt (track and field); 2016-Denzel Valentine (basketball); 2015-Jake Hildebrand (hockey); 2014-Darqueze Dennard (football); 2013-Le'Veon Bell (football); 2012-Draymond Green (basketball); 2011-Greg Jones (football); 2010-Greg Jones (football); 2009-Franklin Gomez (wrestling); 2008-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2007-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2006-Brad Gebauer (track & field); 2005-Nick Simmons (wrestling); 2004-Jeff Smoker (football); 2003-Charles Rogers (football); 2002-Paul Terek (track & field); 2001-Ryan Miller (hockey); 2000-Mateen Cleaves (basketball); 1999-Mateen Cleaves (basketball) and Mike York (hockey); 1998-Chad Alban (hockey); 1997-Reid Friedrichs (soccer); 1996-David Morgan (wrestling); 1995-Shawn Respert (basketball); 1994-Emilio Collins (wrestling); 1993-Bryan Smolinski (hockey); 1992-Anthony Hamm (cross country/track & field); 1991-Steve Smith (basketball); 1990-Kip Miller (hockey) and Percy Snow (football); 1989-Bobby Reynolds (hockey); 1988-Todd Krumm (football/baseball); 1987-Don McSween (hockey); 1986-Mike Donnelly (hockey), Lorenzo White (football), Scott Skiles (basketball); 1985-Sam Vincent (basketball); 1984-Carl Banks (football); 1983-Ron Scott (hockey); 1982-Ron Scott (hockey).
GEORGE ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
(Presented to top female athlete of 2017-18)
WINNER: Sarah Burnham (golf)
With another outstanding season in leading the Spartans to their second straight Big Ten Championship, Sarah Burnham has left a lasting legacy on one of MSU’s most successful athletic programs.
“I think without question she’s the best player in history of the program and is certainly the most decorated,” said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. “Winning this award is another feather in her cap. To be both the player of the year in the conference and the Alderton winner in consecutive years is quite an accomplishment. It’s just a great way to cap off an incredible year and outstanding way to start what is hopefully a very successful pro career. It has been awesome coaching her and seeing her progress over her four years.”
“It means a lot to receive this award for the second year in a row,” Burnham said. “It’s really cool to be part of such a great university with great people; all the student-athletes at MSU have amazing talents. I’m really thankful to be a Spartan and this is a big honor.
“We’ve had a lot of success as a program both in the classroom and on the golf course, and I’m so happy to have been a part of it.”
Burnham is the fourth Spartan in program history to win the Alderton Award twice, joining Caroline Powers (2011, 2012, 2013), Sara Brown (2007, 2008) and Emily Bastel (2000, 2002). A Spartan women’s golfer has won the Alderton Award in six of the last eight years.
Burnham ended her Spartan career as the school's all-time leader in career average at 72.92 – over 1.3 strokes lower than the previous mark set by Powers (2009-13). Burnham owns three of the top-five season averages in program history, including the school record 70.68 she set this past season.
The native of Maple Grove, Minnesota, became just the second player in school history to be a three-time WGCA All-America selection. Burnham earned honorable mention All-America accolades as a sophomore and junior and then garnered Second Team All-America honors this year as a senior.
In helping Michigan State to back-to-back Big Ten titles in 2017 and 2018, the Spartans’ team success translated into a host of individual accolades for Burnham. She was named the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second straight year in 2018, and also earned First Team All-Big Ten accolades for the third consecutive year in finishing as the runner-up at the conference championship.
Burnham became the first Spartan to win the Mary Fossum Award, named for the former Spartan head coach which goes to the Big Ten player with the lowest stroke average to par (-1.21).
Burnham had six top five finishes and placed in the top 10 in 10 of the Spartans’ 11 tournaments this past season. She captured her third career tournament title by winning the Mary Fossum Invitational in September with a 6-under-par 210.
Academically, Burnham was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second straight year.
PAST WINNERS - ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
2017-Sarah Burnham (golf) and Tori Jankoska (basketball); 2016-Aerial Powers (basketball); 2015-Leah O'Connor (cross country/track & field); 2014-Allyssa Ferrell (golf); 2013-Caroline Powers (golf) and Beth Rohl (track & field); 2012-Laura Heyboer (soccer) and Caroline Powers (golf); 2011-Emily MacLeod (cross country/track & field) and Caroline Powers (golf); 2010-Floor Rijpma (field hockey); 2009-Nicole Bush (cross country/track & field); 2008-Sara Brown (golf); 2007-Sara Brown (golf); 2006-Liz Shimek (basketball); 2005-Kristin Haynie (basketball); 2004-Jamie Krzyminski (cross country/track & field); 2003-Michelle Carson (cross country) and Jamie Krzyminski (cross country/track & field); 2002-Emily Bastel (golf); 2001-Summer Mitchell (swimming & diving); 2000-Emily Bastel (golf); 1999-Carrie Carpenter (softball); 1998-Jill Lusher (field hockey); 1997-Sevatheda Fynes (track & field); 1996-Val Sterk (volleyball); 1995-Karen Winslow (soccer); 1994-Susan Francis (track & field); 1993-Jodi Blotcher (gymnastics); 1992-Misty Allison (cross country/track & field); 1991-Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse (swimming & diving); 1990-Julie Farrell (swimming & diving); 1989-Julie Farrell (swimming & diving); 1988-Michelle Ingalls (gymnastics); 1987-Odessa Smalls (track & field); 1986-Mary Schoenle (swimming & diving); 1985-Kelly Becker (volleyball); 1984-Deanne Moore (softball); 1983-Judi Brown (track & field); 1982-Molly Brennan (track & field).
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR
(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
MALE WINNER: Jimmy Fiscus (soccer)
Jimmy Fiscus finished his multi-faceted career as a highly decorated player and an extremely dependable leader. Both on the field and off, Fiscus showed what it truly meant to be a Spartan.
The durable defender played in 75 games during his Michigan State career, starting 73. In four seasons, he scored four goals with four assists for 12 points with three game-winning goals. As a defender, Fiscus was part of 38 shutouts during his stellar four-year career. His on-the-field presence helped MSU register a 46-22-14 record during his tenure, advancing to the Elite Eight in both 2014 and 2017.
“I am completely honored to have been nominated and for winning this award,” said Fiscus. “I don’t play and do all this for awards, but it is a complete honor. I am just happy that the University saw me as a potential candidate. It is such an honor to be joining big names like Kirk Cousins who has received the same award. It is great to be doing things that help the team and the community. First and foremost, I want to thank my family for helping me out with everything and getting me where I am today. Also, I want to thank the coaches at MSU for believing in me and also my teammates, because without them I wouldn’t have been in this spot either.”
Fiscus was a two-year captain for the Spartans, showing his leadership skills on the pitch. During his stellar senior campaign, he picked up First Team All-Big Ten honors, as well as NSCAA All-Midwest Region honors. In 2017, the senior started all 20 games and played over 1,800 minutes for the Green and White, en route to earning United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-America honors. During his senior season, Fiscus scored two goals with one assist for five points. He was very timely with his scoring, as both goals were game-winning goals.
The Novi, Michigan, native was also recognized throughout his career for his work off the field. Since 2015, he has worked with PACT (Putting Athletes and Community Together), which is a mentoring program for middle and high school student-athletes. The program is designed to help them enhance their appreciation for athletics, community, and leadership. Fiscus and the entire MSU men’s soccer team has also worked with the Miracle League of Mid-Michigan the last two years, working with kids with special needs in the East Lansing area.
A graduate with a degree in supply chain management, Fiscus was also stellar in the classroom as well, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors from 2015-17. In 2017, Fiscus earned first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District honors. He completed the season with United Soccer Coaches First-Team Scholar All-American.
“This is a very deserving award for Jimmy and his family. Jimmy excelled on the field and in the classroom for four years. He had an incredible competitive spirit. Most importantly, Jimmy always put the team first, so it’s great to see him receive recognition for his efforts. He truly is a great Spartan,” said MSU head soccer coach Damon Rensing.
Fiscus is the third soccer player at MSU to win the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, joining Doug DeMartin (2009) and Tyler Robinson (2003).
PAST WINNERS - BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR MALE WINNERS:
2017-Josiah Price (football); 2016-Jack Allen (football); 2015-Mike Sadler (football); 2014-Greg Wolfe (hockey); 2013-Jacob Jarzen (swimming and diving); 2012-Kirk Cousins (football); 2011-Brandon Eckerle (baseball); 2010-Blair White (football); 2009-Doug DeMartin (soccer); 2008-Drew Neitzel (basketball); 2007-Drew Stanton (football); 2006-Drew Stanton (football); 2005-Chris Hill (basketball); 2004-Steve Manz (track & field); 2003-Tyler Robinson (soccer); 2002-Josh Thornhill (football); 2001-Shaun Mason (football); 2000-Shawn Horcoff (hockey); 1999-Steve Schell (cross country/track & field); 1998-Tyler Harlton (hockey); 1997-Tyler Harlton (hockey); 1996-Brian Picklo (wrestling); 1995-Emilio Collins (wrestling); 1994-Steve Wasylk (football); 1993-Dave Smith (cross country/track & field); 1992-Stuart Hirschman (baseball); 1991-Walt Bartels (hockey); 1990-Walt Bartels (hockey); 1989-Danton Cole (hockey); 1988-Michael Davidson (baseball); 1987-Dean Altobelli (football); 1986-Don McSween (hockey); 1985-Carlton Evans (lacrosse); 1984-Kelly Miller (hockey); 1983-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1982-Morten Andersen (football); 1981-Jay Vincent (basketball); 1980-Mark Brammer (football); 1979-Gregory Kelser (basketball); 1978-Larry Bethea (football); 1977-Tyrone Willingham (football/baseball); 1976-Pat Milkovich (wrestling); 1975-Dennis Olmstead (hockey); 1974-Robert Cassleman (track & field); 1973-Kenneth Popejoy (track & field); 1972-Herb Washington (track & field); 1971-Thomas Muir (wrestling); 1970-Richard Saul (football); 1969-Allen Brenner (football); 1968-Dale Anderson (wrestling); 1967-Eugene Washington (football, track & field); 1966-Steve Juday (football); 1965-David Price (gymnastics); 1964-George (Pete) Gent (basketball); 1963-Richard Schloemer (fencing); 1962-Edward Ryan (football); 1961-William Reynolds (track & field/cross country); 1960-Stan Tarshis (gymnastics); 1959-Robert Anderegg (basketball); 1958-Robert Jasson (hockey); 1957-Selwyn Jones (track & field); 1956-Carl Nystrom (football); 1955-Kevan Gosper (track & field); 1954-Robert Hoke (wrestling); 1953-John Wilson (football); 1952-Orris Bender (wrestling); 1951-Everett Grandelius (football).
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR
(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
FEMALE WINNER: Katelyn Daniels (track & field)
Katelyn Daniels has had one of the most decorated careers in Michigan State track and field history. The senior has been a force both on the field and in the classroom. She completed her MSU career as the school record holder in both the discus (60.54m) and the shot put (16.40m).
“It is a humongous honor to receive an award of this caliber, especially considering how much the Big Ten and Michigan State specifically has meant to me. It is amazing to win an award based on academics and athletics because it shows how important they both are,” Daniels said. “I would like to thank my parents for all of their support throughout the years. I’d also like to thank my coaches, my teammates, the athletic training staff, academic staff and my friends, because without the people that I am surrounded by, my experience wouldn’t have meant as much. I wouldn’t have been successful without all the people who were invested in me.”
The native of Lewis Center, Ohio, earned a pair of All-America honors in 2018 to close out her Spartan career. She captured first team honors after finishing eighth in the discus with a throw of 53.84m. For the first time in her career, she garnered honorable mention All-America accolades in the shot put, finishing 20th at the NCAA Championships.
She will leave MSU as a five-time All-American. She is the most decorated Spartan women’s track athlete since Leah O’Connor who was a six-time All-American, including both indoor and outdoor. Daniels also earned All-Big Ten honors for four straight seasons.
Daniels started her MSU career with a bang, as the Spartans captured the 2015 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field title during her freshman campaign. She went on to capture the Big Ten title in discus with a then-meet record heave of 59.06m. Daniels was the first MSU track & field athlete to win the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award since Beth Rohl in 2009.
The pharmacology and toxicology graduate was just as successful in the classroom. Daniels also captured USTFCCCA All-Academic and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors all four years with a 4.0 GPA. Daniels also was a three-time Big Ten Academic-Conference honoree.
“I think that there is a great culture here that the athletes embrace,” MSU Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Walt Drenth said. “I think that track & field is one of those sports where you just put your head down and go to work everyday that translates to the classroom as well as the field. The kids embrace the idea that they want to be exceptional students. Katelyn is leading the charge. She is deciding if she wants to go to medical school or graduate school. She came here to win Big Ten Championships, but she also came here to be an exceptional student. None of this success happens in a vacuum. We have an exceptional support system. The SASS folks are here to help us and I think all the infrastructure is really important.”
Daniels is the fifth recipient of the Conference Medal of Honor from the cross country/track & field program and the second in as many years, joining Alexis Wiersma (2017), Michelle Carson (2004), Laura Bell (1995 & 1994), Misty Allison (1992) and Anne Pewe (1984).
PAST WINNERS - BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR FEMALE WINNERS:
2017-Alexis Wiersma (cross country/track and field); 2016-Lisa Burt (gymnastics); 2015-Abby Barker (field hockey); 2014-Kristen Henn (field hockey); 2013-Caroline Powers (golf); 2012-Jenilee Rathje (volleyball); 2011-Aimee Neff (golf); 2010-Allyssa DeHaan (basketball); 2009-Sara Schmidt (rowing); 2008-Kate Burdick (rowing); 2007-Kristen Coleman (gymnastics); 2006-Liz Shimek (basketball); 2005-Veerle Goudswaard (field hockey); 2004-Michelle Carson (cross country/track & field); 2003-Stephanie Anisko (swimming & diving); 2002-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving) and Krista Buzzell (crew); 2001-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving); 2000-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving); 1999-Carrie Carpenter (softball); 1998-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1997-Val Sterk (volleyball); 1996-Patti Raduenz (softball); 1995-Laura Bell (cross country/track & field); 1994-Laura Bell (cross country/track & field); 1993-Ruth Aguayo (gymnastics); 1992-Misty Allison (cross country/track & field); 1991-Emily Coatney (soccer); 1990-Eileen Shea (basketball); 1989-Mary Schoenle (swimming & diving); 1988-Kim Hartwick (gymnastics); 1987-Lisa Marino (golf); 1986-Julie Polakowski (basketball); 1985-Kelly Belanger (basketball); 1984-Anne Pewe (cross country/track & field); 1983-Karen Wells (basketball); 1982-Lisa Speaker (golf).
CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD
(Presented to a graduating senior in his or her last year of eligibility for distinguished performance in athletics and scholarship and for possessing a high degree of leadership qualities and skill.)
WINNER: Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. (basketball)
Michigan State men’s basketball has had more accomplished players on the court, but Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. will go down in history as one of the great leaders in the program’s history.
Nairn captained the Big Ten Champion Spartans as a senior, becoming just the sixth three-time captain in program history. While Nairn was not a captain as a freshman, Spartan great Draymond Green famously told Coach Izzo that if he were to ever have a freshman captain that Nairn would be that guy. Still, Nairn played a leadership role early, starting as point guard on MSU’s 2015 Final Four squad.
“This award means a lot to me, but I’m not like I am to get awards,” Nairn said. “Everything I do and everything I believe in is a part of who I am. God placed me here to inspire people, to serve people and to motivate people, and that’s what I want to do as long as I can.
“To be recognized by Michigan State and among all of our other sports and teams, this means a lot. I’m truly honored.”
A starter for most of his career, Nairn showed great leadership as a senior, accepting a reserve role while a younger player started in his spot. The move proved to be in the best interests of the team as MSU posted a 30-5 mark, including an impressive 16-2 record in Big Ten play.
“I’ve been amazed over the last few years how many coaches have asked Tum to speak to their own teams,” Izzo said. “He was always willing to spread the enthusiasm and commitment that he brought to our program every single day. Tum loves Michigan State and everything about it. He’s always thinking of someone else before himself, and that includes all the other sports across campus. His selfless leadership makes him very deserving of the Brewer Leadership Award.”
Nairn finished second on the team with 2.9 assists per game, while also recording an impressive 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. He received the team's Inspirational Player Award for the fourth straight year, while also collecting the team's Antonio Smith Glue and Guts Award. In addition, Nairn was one of 28 honorees by the Big Ten Conference for the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award earlier in June.
Nairn becomes just the sixth basketball player to receive the Chester Brewer Leadership Award, joining Eric Snow (1995), Terry Donnelly (1980), John Bailey (1968), Pat Wilson (1957) and Robert Carey (1952).
PAST WINNERS - CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD:
2017-Dan Durkin (baseball); 2016-Jack Allen (football); 2015-Kori Moster (volleyball); 2014-Kristen Kelsay (volleyball); 2013-Caroline Powers (golf); 2012-Kirk Cousins (football); 2011-Brandon Eckerle (baseball); 2010-Kelly Moffitt (gymnastics); 2009-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2008-Ryan Brehm (golf); 2007-Taren James (track & field); 2006-R.J. Boudro (wrestling); 2005-Kristin Haynie (basketball); 2004-Allison Fouch (golf); 2003-Sandy Lewis (softball); 2002-Adam Hall (hockey); 2001-Ann Cieszkowski (soccer); 2000-Leah Nilsson (cross country/track & field); 1999-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1998-Kyle Baker (cross country); 1997-Dana Cooke (volleyball) and Tamika Matlock (basketball); 1996-Courtney DeBolt (volleyball); 1995-Eric Snow (basketball); 1994-Rob Fredrickson (football); 1993-Steve Johnson (baseball); 1992-Mike Gilmore (hockey); 1991-Becky Belanger (volleyball) and Eileen Shea (basketball); 1990-Chris Willertz (football); 1989-Sheila Ovenhouse (softball); 1988-Pat Shurmur (football); 1987-Shane Bullough (football); 1986-Anthony Bell (football); 1985-Kelly Miller (hockey); 1984-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1983-Eliot Tabron (track & field); 1982-Shawn White (wrestling); 1981-Ray Stachowicz (football); 1980-Terry Donnelly (basketball); 1979-Rodger Bastien (baseball); 1978-Jeff Rudolph (gymnastics); 1977-Gary Domagalski (golf); 1976-Thomas Ross (hockey); 1975-No Award Presented; 1974-Val Washington (lacrosse); 1973-Jerry Sackmann (baseball); 1972-Greg Johnson (wrestling); 1971-Kim Hartman (cross country/track & field); 1970-Ronald Saul (football); 1969-Toby Towson (gymnastics); 1968-John Bailey (basketball/golf); 1967-Gary Dilley (swimming); 1966-Payton Fuller (soccer), James Curzi (gymnastics); 1965-Douglas Roberts (hockey/football); 1964-Sherman Lewis (track & field/football); 1963-George Azar (football/baseball); 1962-Stephen Johnson (gymnastics); 1961-William Steuart (swimming); 1960-Crawford "Forddy" Kennedy (cross country/track & field); 1959-Sam Williams (football); 1958-Dave Lean (cross country/track & field); 1957-Pat Wilson (football/basketball); 1956-Earl Morrall (football/baseball); 1955-John Matsock (football/baseball); 1954-Tom Yewcic (football/baseball); 1953-Bert McLachlan (swimming); 1952-Robert Carey (football/track & field/basketball); 1951-Everett Grandelius (football).
DR. JAMES FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD
(Presented to a male or female graduating senior involved in athletics as a competitor or in a supporting role. The recipient should carry a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and in addition to athletic and academic success, demonstrate involvement in school/campus and community activities.)
CO-WINNER: Lea Foerster (softball)
Softball player Lea Foerster was one of the winners of the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award after completing her softball career with an abundance of school records, a healthy list of academic accolades and a stable of community outreach activities both on campus and in her communities.
“Lea Foerster is a program player," said softball head coach Jacquie Joseph. "Her dream was to be a Spartan, and when she came to us as a freshman we saw quickly that just wearing the uniform wasn’t an end goal.
“When you look at what she has done over her four years as a part of our program, you are amazed at how easy she makes it look,” continued Joseph. “Every honor she earns is the result of her work ethic and drive. She has an unparalleled enthusiasm for the priorities in her life, which shows in whatever she undertakes on the field, as a student and when she devotes her time to various community service activities. Her selection as the winner of the Feurig Award is entirely fitting to honor the commitment and excellence she brought to Michigan State in all aspects of being a student-athlete.”
Foerster graduated as perhaps the most decorated player in Spartan softball history. She earned All-America honors in 2017, was a two-time First Team All-Region pick and was a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection (2017, 2018) after earning Second Team kudos as a freshman in 2015. In addition to her selection to the All-Big Ten squad, Foerster also earned a spot on the All-Defensive team both years, as well as a spot on the Big Ten Softball All-Tournament Team in 2017 and 2018.
Foerster ranked among the Big Ten's top 10 in 2018 in batting average (.371, eighth), slugging percentage (.715, fourth), on-base percentage (.503, third), doubles (22, first), home runs (10, ninth), total bases, (108, 10th) and also led the league in hit by pitch, (19, first). Her 22 doubles in 2018 ranks sixth all-time in the Big Ten single-season annals, which is behind the 26 she hit in 2017 to establish the all-time Big Ten record. She ranks seventh all-time in the NCAA annals in career doubles (75), which is also the Big Ten career record, while ranking 10th all-time in the Big Ten in career base hits (251).
Foerster will graduate as one of MSU's most prolific players. She is MSU's all-time run-scoring (190), extra-base hit (118) and doubles (75) leader, is second in batting average (.368), hits (251), RBI (130) and home runs (33), sixth in walks (81) and 10th in triples (10). She played 220 career games, starting 219.
Foerster, a kinesiology major, graduated with a 3.7 cumulative grade-point average in May. Three times she was on the Academic All-Big Ten team, was a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, and as a junior and senior earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Foerster is one of five softball student-athletes in program history to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in multiple seasons.
Foerster is well-liked and respected as a leader not only as a member of the softball team, but also in the campus community. She is on the Student-Leadership Team for Michigan State's Athletes in Action chapter, facilitating and planning weekly team Bible studies and engaging in one-on-one mentoring with younger student-athletes. She is a member of MSU's Athletic Director Student Leadership Team and participated in the Ultimate Training Camp in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Long Beach, California. She is a member of her team's Leadership Council, consisting of five student-athletes (one from each class, plus a wild card selection) in lieu of traditional team captains.
A member of her team's leadership council, the outreach chair of both MSU's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and chapter of Athletes in Action, Foerster has participated in countless activities in the MSU and Lansing communities as well as participating in larger outreach activities like a mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa (2015), and a Houston hurricane relief trip in the fall of 2017. With MSU, she has participated in Operation Christmas Child, has annually adopted a needy family for the Christmas holidays, read at March is Reading Month, participated in an Adaptable Trick or Treat for disabled children, was a D.A.R.E Graduation speaker, volunteered at Youth Haven Ranch and Afterschool Kids Club for disadvantaged youth, participated in a Chicago prison outreach and been a guest speaker for high schools and churches.
“I’m extremely humbled to have been named the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award winner,” noted Foerster. “All Glory to God, I’m so thankful to have been given a platform where I was able to impact other people’s lives. I wanted to be a Spartan since I was little girl and this is the best way to end my career as a student-athlete.
“Thank you to my parents, who sacrificed so much to help me achieve my dream and were my number one fans along the way,” continued the recent graduate. “I also owe a big thank you to Coach J and the rest of my coaching staff for pushing me to become the best player and leader I could be. As this chapter of my life closes I will cherish the memories and friendships made along the way. I’m excited to represent Spartan Nation in my next phase!”
CO-WINNER: Jasper Koenen (tennis)
It’s fitting that Jasper Koenen is the first Michigan State men’s tennis player to receive the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award. Perhaps no player in program history gave as much back to the university and community as Koenen did during his time on campus in East Lansing.
Over the course of his Spartan career, Koenen set a new standard of excellence in leadership and community service. As the first ever two-year President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Koenen elevated the organization to new levels and provided a platform of success for all those who follow.
“I’m truly honored to have won this award,” said Koenen. “It’s a great way to finish my college career as I prepare for the real world. It really is a team effort to win an award like this. I received a lot of support from my teammates, my coaches, and the athletic department in Jim Pignataro, Todd Edwards and Angela Montie. All of the staff really pushes us to be leaders and to be involved in the community, and I think that speaks volumes for the whole athletic department. We have so many great student-athletes and leaders at MSU, especially in the senior class.”
“Jasper was a true servant leader, always putting others first,” said MSU men’s tennis head coach Gene Orlando. “He was a great player and won over 100 career matches, but his legend will be how he made the sacrifice and selfless commitment to making a difference in our Spartan community.”
For the second consecutive year, Koenen was named the winner of the Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service and Leadership Award at the Spartan Academic Excellence Gala. The award is presented to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the goals of the PACT (Putting Athletes and Community Together) program, excelling in the field of community service and outreach.
Through his positions as men's tennis team captain, SAAC President, MSU Athletic Council Member, and Big Ten SAAC Representative, Koenen was able to be a voice for student-athletes at every level. His involvement and leadership continued into the community as well where he was a very active participant in numerous outreach activities including Accessible Trick or Treating, March is Reading Month, Random Acts of Kindness Week and spearheading the Student-Athlete Food Drive.
“I was involved in a lot of leadership organizations in high school, so I knew coming to college I wanted to do that as well,” Koenen said. “I got a lot of support from Coach O over my four years to be involved and really take it to the next level. Being the president the past two years came with a lot of responsibilities, including traveling to different meetings and conferences, and Coach O always supported me. He let me pursue those leadership opportunities, and I really had a lot of joy representing the student-athletes and working with all of the athletes in creating a great culture and giving back to the community as a whole group. It always made me happy and I really enjoyed doing that.”
On the court, Koenen paired up with fellow senior Brett Forman to form the No. 1 doubles team this season for the Spartans, and the duo led the Spartans with 11 wins, including nine dual victories. Koenen also started 21 matches at singles. For his career, Koenen won more than a combined 100 singles and doubles matches.
A four-year letterwinner, Koenen was a two-time captain and three-time selection to the Academic All-Big Ten and ITA All-Academic Team. He received the team’s Spirit Award in 2016.
Koenen graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality business and finished his collegiate career with a 3.48 GPA. He will begin a full-time position at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, on July 9.
PAST WINNERS - DR. JAMES FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD
2017-Allyssah Fitterer (volleyball); 2016-Sarah Kovan (soccer); 2015-Ryan Keener (soccer); 2014-Kristen Kelsay (volleyball); 2013-Kevin Jackson (track & field); 2012-Jenilee Rathje (volleyball); 2011-Jenilee Rathje (volleyball); 2010-Ross Weaver (football); 2009-Katlyn Roggensack (gymnastics); 2008-Matthew McNichols (swimming & diving); 2007-John Masters (football); 2006-Taren James (track & field); 2005-Erin Carlson (soccer); 2004-Joe Tate (football); 2003-Brad Fast (hockey); 2002-Adam Hall (hockey); 2001-Deb White (field hockey); 2000-Jennifer Hanink (soccer); 1999-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1998-Dave Mudge (football); 1997-Stephanie Dueringer (cross country/track & field); 1996-Susan Gibson (soccer); 1995-Angela Howard (gymnastics); 1994-Mill Coleman (football); 1993-Molly West (tennis) and Chris Brown (track & field); 1992-Matt Steigenga (basketball); 1991-Jason Muzzatti (hockey); 1990-Dawna Wilson (gymnastics) and Todd Mercer (swimming & diving); 1989-Kelly Collister (volleyball); 1988-Keiko Timmerman (gymnastics); 1987-Kristen Nelson (swimming & diving) and Barry Fordham (basketball); 1986-John Wojciehowski (football); 1985-Bob Fossum (golf) and Riney Wilke (lacrosse); 1984-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1983-Syd Wells (golf); 1982-Molly Brennan (track & field); 1981-Ivan Merritt (gymnastics); 1980-Michael Longaker (basketball); 1979-Kevin Willitts (lacrosse); 1978-Joan Garety (golf); 1977-Herb Lindsay (track & field/cross country).