Dec. 18, 2009
East Lansing, Mich. -
Former Spartan netminder Jeff Lerg was bestowed the highest honor given to an undergraduate by the NCAA when he was recognized as one of the Association's 2010 Top VIII Award winners at the NCAA Convention in Atlanta on Friday, Jan. 15.
The Today's Top VIII award recognizes current student-athletes who have completed their athletics eligibility for their success on the fields and courts, in the classroom and in the community. The award is open to all athletes in Divisions I, II, and III, and all sports sponsored by the NCAA. Recipients will be honored January 15 at the NCAA Honors and Delegates Celebration.
Lerg is the second Michigan State athlete to win this prestigious award, joining basketball standout Greg Kelser, who was selected in 1980. He is also just the second ice hockey player to ever be selected; Northern Michigan's Brad Werenka was selected in 1992. Michigan State head coach Rick Comley was Werenka's coach with the Wildcats.
In addition, Michigan State is one of just four Big Ten institutions to have more than one Top VIII winner.
"This is certainly a tremendous honor not only for myself, but also for Michigan State University," noted Lerg when notified of his selection. "I'm obviously humbled, looking at the list of winners and their accomplishments. I'm very proud to represent Michigan State when accepting this prestigious honor."
The complete list of 2010 Top VIII honorees:
Amanda Blumenherst, Duke, golf
Courtney Kupets, Georgia, gymnastics
Venessa Lee, Pittsburg State, cross country and indoor and outdoor track
Jeff Lerg, Michigan State, men's ice hockey
Kent Raymond, Wheaton (Illinois), basketball
Brittany Rogers, Alabama, softball
Sarah Stevens, Arizona State, indoor and outdoor track
Tim Tebow, Florida, football
The Top VIII honorees are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, which is composed of eight athletics administrators at member institutions and nationally distinguished citizens who are former student-athletes.
Following are summaries of each honoree's achievements:
Amanda Blumenherst, golf, Duke
Member of two NCAA national championship teams; three-time Atlantic Coast Conference individual champion.
First three-time winner of the Nancy Lopez Award presented to the top amateur golfer in the nation.
Led the United States to victories in the 2008 and 2006 Curtis Cup.
Two-time winner of the Honda Award for golf.
2008 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion.
Three-time first-team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America selection and four-time National Golf Coaches Association Scholar All-American.
Active member of Athletes in Action and Duke's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, including spearheading a holiday initiative that annually raised more than $1,800 to adopt families.
Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Urban Ministries Soup Kitchen and MLK Day Meals for Millions.
Recently earned LPGA Tour card.
Courtney Kupets, gymnastics, Georgia
Housing/property management and consumer economics major.
Member of four NCAA national championship teams.
Nine-time NCAA individual champion and the first gymnast to win at least one national title in each event.
2009 Honda-Broderick Cup recipient as collegiate woman athlete of the year.
2009 Southeastern Conference Gymnast of the Year and Roy F. Kramer SEC Female Athlete of the Year.
2009 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient and SEC Postgraduate Scholarship Award recipient.
ESPN the Magazine first-team Academic All-American.
Met regularly with a Special Olympian to prepare a routine for competition, and participated in the SOAR 5K, which involved running with a Special Olympian.
Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
Venessa Lee, cross country and indoor and outdoor track, Pittsburg State
Biology (pre-medicine) and Spanish double major.
Three-time NCAA national champion in the 800 meters.
14-time Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association champion and 20-time all-MIAA selection.
Two-time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American
2008-09 Ken B. Jones award winner as MIAA female student-athlete of the year.
Participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Honors College and Beta Beta Beta, the biology honors society, and served on the Student Government Association cabinet.
Volunteered with the Special Olympics and the Pittsburg State pre-med free health screenings outreach.
Currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Kansas Medical School.
Jeff Lerg, ice hockey, Michigan State
Member of 2007 NCAA national championship team, and member of the Frozen Four all-tournament team.
Chosen as 2007 USA Hockey College Player of the Year and NCAA Midwest Regional MVP.
Michigan State and Central Collegiate Hockey Association career saves leader; ranks second all-time in NCAA history with 3,996 stops.
2009 CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine At-Large Academic all-American of the Year; two-time first-team Academic All-American.
2008 CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year and three-time CCHA All-academic team selection.
Active participant in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Shoot for the Cure (a Michigan State hockey outreach initiative to raise money for children's cancer charities), Project Read at local elementary schools, Have Fun, Play Hockey clinics and wheelchair hockey games to raise funds for local wheelchair hockey team.
Recipient of 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award for ice hockey.
Kent Raymond, basketball, Wheaton (Illinois)
Intercultural studies major.
2008-09 DIII News Player of the Year.
Two-time D3hoops.com and three-time NABC Division III first-team All-American.
Three-time College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin most outstanding player.
Holds CCIW records for career made free throws (325), free throws made in a single game (20-for-20), points in a conference tournament game (39).
ESPN the Magazine first-team Academic All-America pick in 2008-09 and second-team selection in 2007-08.
Helped organize and oversee free basketball clinics on the south side of Chicago; volunteered at the local Loaves and Fishes food pantry.
Currently pursuing a master's degree in intercultural studies
Brittany Rogers, softball, Alabama
Elementary education major.
Four-year starter who helped Alabama register three top 10 national finishes.
Guided the Crimson Tide to three Women's College World Series berths, including back-to-back semifinal appearances.
Finished career ranked first in stolen bases (198); second in batting average (.417), runs (256) and hits (343); and fifth in on-base percentage (.463).
Four-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American.
NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and Southeastern Conference Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.
Winner of the 2009 Paul Bryant Student-Athlete Award presented to the top male and top female student-athlete at Alabama.
Volunteered with community organizations such as Project Angel Tree, Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Easter Seals walk and visited various local elementary and high schools.
Sarah Stevens, indoor and outdoor track, Arizona State
Elementary education major.
Two-time NCAA national champion (once in the indoor shot put and once in the discus).
Seven-time Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion (shot put, weight throw) and six-time Pacific-10 Conference champion (shot put, discus, hammer throw).
Two-time MPSF Female Athlete of the Year and two-time Pac-10 Women's Field Athlete of the Year
Recipient of 2009 NCAA Postgraduate and Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarships.
2009 Pac-10 Women's Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Two-time president of the campus student-athlete advisory committee.
Volunteered with Pat's Run fund-raiser, Pat Tillman Leadership Through Action Program, and the Salvation Army at South Mountain outreach, in which she taught and played sports with young children while teaching them about healthy living.
Tim Tebow, football, Florida
Family, youth and community sciences major.
Only sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, Sullivan Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award (2007).
Three-time Heisman Trophy finalist.
Only player in NCAA history to rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in one season.
Guided Florida to two national championships and two Southeastern Conference championships.
2009 SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
ESPY award winner as best male college athlete in 2008.
Two-time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American of the Year.
Two-time SEC scholar-athlete of the year for football (2008, 2009).
Dedicated more than 700 hours to community service and appearances this year, including making phone calls to sick children and visiting hospitals.
Named to the 2009 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Chosen as 2008 Disney Sports Spirit Award winner as college football's most inspirational player.