May 5, 2014
Michigan State volleyball player Kristen Kelsay (Wheaton, Ill.) has been announced as the 2014 Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) Athlete of the Year. Kelsay will be honored in an exclusive event at the Detroit Athletic Club honoring both the high school and collegiate winners on Monday, May 12.
In keeping with its longstanding tradition of supporting athletics in the community, the DAC Athlete of the Year honors are awarded not only for athletic ability, but also for the academic and humanitarian efforts of high school and college student athletes. Kelsay is the fifth Spartan to earn this honor, which the DAC expanded to include male and female collegiate honorees in 2006 (the organization has named both a male and female High School Athlete of the Year since 1997). Kelsay joins Drew Stanton (football, 2007), Jeff Lerg (hockey, 2008), Allyssa DeHaan (basketball, 2010) and Brandon Eckerle (baseball, 2011) as winners from Michigan State recipients. In addition, former MSU soccer standout Olivia Stander was the high school award recipient in 2009 after her career at Grosse Pointe North High School.
Kelsay wrapped an impressive collegiate career with a standout senior season that saw her recognized not only for her play on the court, but also her work in the classroom and the community. The president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), she attended the 2013 NCAA leadership forum in addition to completing a mission trip to Africa in the summer. She participated in community outreach events like the Student-Athlete Food Drive, Family Fun Nights at local elementary schools, Chuck-a-Puck events to raise money for children's cancer research, adopting a needy family at the holidays, and many others.
As a psychology major and member of the MSU honors college, Kelsay earned Academic All-America honors as a senior, in addition to being a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection as well as a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She boasted the team's top cumulative GPA in three of her four years, making the Dean's List every semester and compiling a perfect 4.0 GPA in four semesters. She was recognized as the Harold & Raynor Shnider Office of the Provost Award (which honors academic performance, community involvement and leadership ability), and most recently earned MSU's prestigious Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service and Leadership Award at MSU's Academic Gala in April. She was one of nine students who were profiled in the 2014 Michigan State University President's Report, and was also featured in the "Faces of the Big Ten" commercial campaign.
Kelsay, a three-year captain of the volleyball team, helped lead MSU to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments and back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances in the most difficult volleyball conference in the country. She finished her career ranked eighth all-time at MSU in career matches played (133), fourth in career sets (473), and sixth in assists (3,040). In addition, she twice was honored with the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.