June 4, 2007
Sprinting sensation Danielle Carruthers, golfer Karen Dennison, diver Cassandra Cardinell and tennis ace Sarah Batty all racked up their fair share of awards and honors during their respective collegiate careers at Indiana University. Even though they faced dynamically different hurdles - quite literally for some - along the way, this Hoosier quartet shares in one of the most valuable decorations any collegiate athlete could claim: the respect of their coaches, peers and even their opponents.
"Being a Hoosier gave me the opportunity to go to a renowned school in one of the most competitive conferences in the country," said Dennison. "Looking down at the IU logo on my golf ball before every shot reminded me who I was playing for. I am so proud today when someone asks me where I went to school - everyone has respect for IU."
In April 2002, the Big Ten made recognizing and promoting sportsmanship a conference-wide priority when the Sports Management Committee voted to implement a Sportsmanship award that would distinguish one male and female student-athlete from each institution as the program's best models of fair play, courtesy, striving spirit and grace in defeat. Along with the values of sportsmanship on the field, these representatives would also be exemplary citizens in the classroom and the community.
Since the Sportsmanship Award was first handed out in 2003, these four student athletes from Indiana have exemplified what it truly means to have the character of a sportsman. The Hoosiers not only pride themselves on their rich academic and athletic traditions, but also on the time-honored values and ethics of the game.
The winners' examples of sportsmanship go beyond merely following the rules of their sports. These honorees have displayed the utmost respect to their opponents while playing the game with a win-or-lose enthusiasm.
"The Big Ten Conference takes great pride in sportsmanship, and these recipients showed respect for their competitors while exemplifying the spirit and character of the Big Ten," said Wendy Fallen, Big Ten Assistant Commissioner for Championships.
In 2003, Carruthers was honored with the award when she capped off one of the best careers of any track and field student-athlete to ever lace up her racing spikes in Bloomington, Ind.
As a sophomore, the fleet-footed Kentucky native finished as the runner-up in the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Championship 100-meter hurdles. Her performance qualified her for the 2001 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships where she finished sixth overall in the event - a good enough showing to qualify for the World University Games in Beijing. She repeated as an All-American in the 100-meter hurdles in 2003, and also earned recognition in the 60 meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles during the indoor season.
The IU record-holder in both the indoor 60-meter hurdles (7.92) and the outdoor 100-meter hurdles (12.68), one of Carruthers' greatest accomplishments was a team feat. She was part of the Hoosiers' dominating 4x100-meter relay team that won four straight Big Ten titles and four All-America honors from 2000 to 2003.
After graduating from Indiana with a degree in recreational sports management , Carruthers set her sights on the professional track scene. She is currently competing with USA Track and Field, where her childhood idol and legendary Olympic Gold Medalist Gail Devers serves as her coach and agent. But even though she is racing on a much bigger stage, Carruthers still takes time to build her life off of the track, whether it is volunteering at the Atlanta Children's Shelter or planning her makeup and fashion line.
The 2004 Sportsmanship Award winner Karen Dennison grew up loving the game of golf for its long-established commitment to integrity. When the first-team All-American completed her career as the conference's Sportsmanship honoree, Dennison knew it was a unique distinction.
"To know that I earned the respect of my peers and competitors is a great honor," said Dennison. "I was proud that others enjoyed competing with me, and it shows that a good attitude does not go unnoticed. Sportsmanship is revered in the game of golf, and being awarded for good sportsmanship assures me that I was true to the game."
The only representative of the Big Ten to earn first-team All-America honors by the National Golf Coaches Association in 2003, Dennison is also only the third Hoosier All-American to earn first-team honors in the illustrious 25-year history of the Indiana women's golf program.
The Madison, Ind., native also earned first team All-Big Ten honors, captured a share of the 2003 Big Ten Championship individual title, and tallied three outright medalist honors throughout that same year.
IU's Anita Aldrich Leadership Award winner in 2004, Dennison decided to stay at Indiana to finish her master's degree in sports management. After graduating, she competed two seasons on the Futures Golf Tour. Dennison currently resides in Orlando, Fla., where she is completing an internship with the Ginn Open, an LPGA event at the Ginn Reunion Resort.
"In five years, I see myself living in the Southeast organizing and directing either golf events or other types of athletic events", said Dennison. "I feel fortunate to have a graduate degree that has prepared me to do what I want I want to do."
When diver Cassandra Cardinell was named the 2005 Sportsmanship Award recipient, it was an unexpected surprise. But the six-time All-American was honored to know her day-in and day-out attitude was well-revered by her coaches and peers.
"During the year I like to set performance goals, but I never really thought about portraying good sportsmanship," said Cardinell. "So when I received this award I was honored to think there are people who see more in me than just being a good diver. Diving has allowed me to learn a lot about myself and who I want to be. I am glad to think that I am growing as diver and a person."
One of her greatest showings came during the 2005 NCAA Championships, where Cardinell was crowned national champion in the platform competition coming off severe foot surgery.
"Perhaps my most memorable moment in individual competition was winning the NCAA 10-meter title in 2005," Cardinell said. "Less than five months before the meet I had foot surgery. Overcoming this and being able to win was a great way to finish my collegiate diving career."
In 2004, Cardinell redshirted to focus her training on the Olympics. She earned her spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in the synchronized 10-meter platform event with Sara Hildebrand, and the duo finished seventh in the event in Athens.
"Athletics has given me many opportunities that I would have never had otherwise," Cardinell said. "Overcoming different challenges in my sport has helped me learn what kind of person I am and who I want to be. Athletics has taught me how to be disciplined, expect greatness of myself, and never accept failure. I can not imagine many other situations in life where this can be taught".
The Loudonville, N.Y., native holds a degree in telecommunications and received her graduate degree in the same field this past May. She is currently still training in hopes of going to the 2008 Olympic Games.
"One thing I really want take away from the experience of being a student-athlete is having respect for my competitors and realizing that they work hard too," Cardinell said. "I truly believe that this is a strong quality of good sportsmanship. When my diving career is over I hope that I can carry the same sportsmanship values into the corporate world."
After serving and volleying her way through a heralded four-year career at Indiana, tennis All-American Sarah Batty was the next to receive the Sportsmanship Award in 2006.
Batty, who came to Bloomington all the way from Chesterfield, England, closed out her Hoosier career with an overall dual-match singles record of 59-40 and a 66-35 mark in doubles. With her partner Linda Tran, Batty earned All-America honors in 2004 after advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships and led the Hoosiers to three team appearances in the national tournament.
"One of the most memorable moments of my college career was going to Georgia with my doubles partner Linda Tran during the NCAA Championships," said Batty. "Being named All-American with her was an incredible experience."
Also a devoted student, Batty earned Academic All-Big Ten honors on three separate occasions. After graduating from IU, the former team captain was not ready to move too far from the Hoosier family. Instead, Batty finished her master's degree while spending the 2006-07 season as a student assistant under her former coach and legendary Indiana mentor Lin Loring.
"I loved playing for Indiana and being a part of the Hoosier family," said Batty. "It has been an absolute pleasure for me to represent such a fine university."
No matter the arena in which she competes, the next Hoosier to receive this award - which will be announced Wednesday, June 6 - will carry on the Indiana tradition of success that is rooted in respect, integrity and - of course - great sportsmanship.