The Big Ten (Jesse Owens/Suzy Favor) Athlete of the Year, announced in early July, honors a men's and women's conference student-athlete judged to have demonstrated in the finest athletic performance in the preceding school year. A 12-member panel of media and conference office representatives vote on the nominees. The award began in 1982 and a separate award for women's athletics was added in 1983. In 1991-92, as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of women's athletics in the conference, the women's award was renamed in honor of former Wisconsin track standout and three-time recipient Suzy Favor.
1983 - Judie Brown, Michigan State, Track & Field
A native of East Lansing, Mich., Judi Brown was the first female Big Ten Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year. Brown won the Big Ten indoor track and field titles in the 60-yard hurdles, the 440 dash (in Big Ten record time) and was a member of the record-setting mile relay team. She also captured Big Ten outdoor titles in the 400 hurdles, and was a member of the winning 1,600 relay team. At the 1983 Big Ten outdoor meet, she was second in the 100 hurdles and ran on the third-place 400-meter relay team. Brown capped her brilliant final track season by winning an NCAA title in the 100-meter hurdles in an NCAA record time of :56.44. She was named 1983 Michigan State Sportswoman of the Year for her accomplishments that season, and was honored as the Most Valuable Player on the MSU track and field squad as well.
1984 - Lisa Ishikawa, Northwestern, Softball
Northwestern softball standout Lisa Ishikawa, who gained All-America status during a record-breaking freshman year, was tabbed the female Big Ten Athlete of the Year in 1984. As a pitcher, Ishikawa helped lead the Wildcats to a third-place NCAA finish at the 1984 Softball World Series. She tied for the national lead in victories with a 33-7 record and 0.46 earned run average (ERA). In leading the Wildcats to the 1984 Big Ten title, Ishikawa compiled a 17-1 record and 0.33 ERA. She shattered two NCAA season records in her rookie season, striking out 469 batters (the previous record had been 344) and averaging 10.9 strikeouts per seven innings. Originally from Stockton, Calif., Ishikawa threw five no-hitters in 1984, including a perfect game against rival MSU.
1985 - Cathy Branta, Wisconsin, Track & Field
Cathy Branta of Wisconsin earned the 1985 Big Ten Athlete of the Year award. A native of Slinger, Wis., Branta won the Big Ten indoor 1,500-meter title, and claimed conference and NCAA championships in the outdoor 1,500 and 3,000. She won seven national titles in her four-year Badger career, and was named an All-American 11 times. A three-time Wisconsin women's Athlete of the Year, Branta had held numerous NCAA and Big Ten records. She earned the 1985 Hondo Broderick Award, honoring her as the outstanding collegiate distance runner in the nation, and the Jumbo Elliott Award, making her the first woman ever cited with the prestigious honor of outstanding track athlete.
1986 - Stephanie Herbst, Wisconsin, Track & Field
A native of Chaska, Minn., Stephanie Herbst helped lead Wisconsin to Big Ten and NCAA cross country titles and conference indoor and outdoor track and field crowns during the 1985-86 competition year. Herbst won the 1985 cross country race at Michigan with a time of 17:20.30, and finished seventh in the NCAA championships at Milwaukee with a time of 16:36.80. She holds the Big Ten record in the indoor 3,000-meter run (9:08.42) and became the youngest Wisconsin NCAA Champion, prior to Suzy Favor, in 1986 with a meet record time of 8:57.12 in that same event. Outdoors, Herbst won the 3,000 and 10,000 Big Ten and NCAA titles in 1986. Her Big Ten outdoor championship times of 9:08.64 in the 3,000 and 32.54.37 in the 10,000 set conference records that still stand today. At the 1986 NCAA Championships, Herbst set a collegiate and meet record in the 10,000 with a time of 32:32.75.
1987 - Jennifer Averill, Northwestern, Field Hockey & Lacrosse
Northwestern field hockey and lacrosse player Jennifer Averill earned the 1987 Big Ten-Jesse Owens female Athlete of the Year award. Averill took the Honda Broderick Award in 1987 for field hockey, given to the top collegiate athlete in the sport. A four-time first-team All-Big Ten choice and twice field hockey All-America honoree at attack position, Averill led the conference in 1986 with six assists. In 1984, she paced Big Ten scorers with 22 points, including a conference-record 16 assists. Her 70 career and 25 single-season assist marks are Northwestern records, and she is the No. 5 NU career scorer with 110 points. A native of Saratoga, Calif., Averill led the Wildcats to a fifth-place NCAA field hockey finish in 1986 and third in 1985. Also a lacrosse co-captain, she earned two All-America designations, and led the Wildcats to a 10-4 record and fifth place NCAA finish in 1987, scoring five goals and executing three assists. Averill was awarded Northwestern's 1987 Big Ten Medal of Honor for academic and athletic achievement.
1988, 1989, 1990 - Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, Track & Field
Suzy Favor of Steven's Point, Wis., the most decorated woman in NCAA track and field history, earned the women's Big Ten Athlete of the Year honor three years straight in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Favor won nine national championships and set NCAA records in the 1,500-meter and 800-meter events. A 14-time All-American, she claimed the 1989-90 Honda Broderick Award as top collegiate women's track performer as well as the 1990 cross country Broderick Award, and went on to win the Honda Broderick Cup as the nation's outstanding collegiate women's athlete. Favor became the first recipient of the Babe Zaharias Female of the Year award and received the 1990 Jumbo Elliott Award for women's collegiate track. She earned an unprecedented selection as Wisconsin's Female Athlete of the Year four years in a row, and received the 1990 NCAA Today's Top Six award as one of the nation's finest student-athletes. Favor won 54 of 56 finals races during her collegiate track career and was undefeated in Big Ten and NCAA individual track competition (32 races). Favor is a four-time winner of the NCAA Division I 1,500, the only female to do so, and finished second at the 1990 NCAA Women's Cross Country Championship.
1991 - Joy Holmes, Purdue, Basketball
Purdue basketball standout Joy Holmes was the 1991 co-winner of the women's Big Ten-Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year award. The Purdue Medal of Honor winner in 1991, Holmes holds many Boilermaker career records including scoring (1,747 points), steals (323), field goal percentage (.559), field-goals made (682), free throws made (372) and attempted (516) and games played (120). She was the 1991 consensus Big Ten women's basketball Player of the Year and Big Ten-Chicago Tribune Most Valuable Player. Hailing from Mansfield, Ohio, Holmes earned first-team Kodak All-America honors in 1991 as a three-time first-team All-Big Ten choice, the first ever for Purdue. She was also awarded team MVP honors two-consecutive years (1990, 1991) and tabbed the 1991 NCAA District IV Player of the Year. Holmes is Purdue's first Big Ten-Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year.
1991 - Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse, Michigan State, Swimming & Diving
A six-time all-American, Michigan State diver Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse was named the 1991 Big Ten-Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year co-winner. The first diver to be awarded the Big Ten honor, Farrell-Ovenhouse won her second NCAA title in as many years, after claiming the 1991 national three-meter springboard championship with an NCAA-record 576.80 points. She was the 1990 NCAA one-meter titlist, finishing third in 1991. The Holt, Mich., native was the 1991 Big Ten one- and three-meter diving champion, while also claiming Big Ten Diver of the Year, Michigan State women's Athlete of the Year and team MVP honors for three consecutive years (1989, 1990 and 1991). She is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and earned 1991 GTE/CoSIDA District IV Academic All-America honors.
1992 - MaChelle Joseph, Purdue, Basketball
MaChelle Joseph became just the second Boilermaker women's basketball player to be named Big Ten-Suzy Favor Women's Athlete of the Year. In 1991, Purdue's Joy Holmes shared the award with Michigan State diver Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse. The Big Ten-Chicago Tribune Most Valuable Player in women's basketball, Joseph capped her career by being named a Kodak All-American. She was also named as the Purdue women's recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, and earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. She was a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection. The Auburn, Ind., native averaged 22.2 points as a senior, led the league with an 83.2 free throw percentage and concluded her career with 2,405 points (20.2 ppg), which currently ranks third in the Big Ten records book. Joseph also finished as the conference's sixth-leading career assist-maker and Purdue's leader with 628. In addition, she paced the Boilermakers with 51 three-point shots made and is the only conference player to rank in the career top-10 in both scoring and assists. The senior guard set a school record with 665 points and led the team in scoring 28-of-30 games, while tallying double figures in 29 contests in 1992.
1993 - Lara Hooiveld, Swimming & Diving
Lara Hooiveld, a sophomore from Michigan, was named the NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year as she took 1993 national championship honors in the 100-yard breaststroke in a U.S. Open, NCAA Championship, Big Ten and pool record time of 1:00.47 as well as winning the NCAA 200 breaststroke title. In addition, Hooiveld was named an All-American as a member of Michigan's fifth-place 400 and seventh-place 200 medley relays. She successfully defended all four of her 1992 Big Ten titles in 1993 by capturing the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and was part of the 200 and 400 medley relay champion. As a sophomore, she owned eight Big Ten titles and was a member of two Wolverine Big Ten title teams. Hooiveld was the first non-U.S. native conference Athlete of the Year and was a member of the 1988 Australian Olympic swimming team, finishing 15th in the 100 and 30th in the 200-meter breaststroke events as a 17-year-old.
1994 - Kristy Gleason, Iowa, Field Hockey
Gleason earned a national Player of the Year honor, as she won the Honda Sports Award as the nation's finest field hockey player. The honor nominated her for the Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the nation's outstanding female collegiate athlete. With her first-team All-America status, Gleason became the first player to be named first-team All-American all four years of her collegiate career. In addition, Gleason repeated as the Big Ten Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year, honors she earned in 1992 and last season. Other 1993 honors included Midwest Regional All-America and NCAA All-Tournament selections as well as being named Big Ten Player of the Week twice in 1993 when the Hawkeyes upset No. 1-ranked Penn State and No. 2 Northwestern in one seven-day period. Gleason, a senior forward-midfielder, ended her career as the second-highest goal scorer in NCAA history with 132. She had 21 career assists and 285 points (Iowa's all-time leading point-scorer) and led the Big Ten in scoring for two consecutive years. The Amesbury, Mass. native scored 33 goals in 1993 (11 in Big Ten play) and had nine assists for a total of 75 points. She owns Big Ten season records in goals scored and points made and boasts 12 hat tricks (three-goals in a game) in her career. Her most prolific game was a 7-0 defeat of St. Louis in which she scored 11 points on a school-record five goals (worth two points) and one assist.
1995 - Laura Davis, Ohio State, Volleyball
Davis, a 5-8 senior setter from Wheaton, Ill. was one of the Big Ten's most decorated volleyball players in 1995 as she received numerous Player of the Year accolades. She was honored as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and Big Ten Player of the Year, in addition to receiving the Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the nation's outstanding female collegiate athlete. Serving as co-captain, the first-team All-American led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten Championship and the NCAA national semifinals for the second time in her career. Davis finished the season as the national statistical champion for assists-per-game with a 14.64 average and established a then-Big Ten record in assists-per-game for conference matches at 15.12. A four-time All-Big Ten selection, Davis left Ohio State having established Buckeye career and season marks in assists with 5,483 and 1,567, respectively. In addition, Davis was an OSU Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big Ten selection.
1996 - Olga Kalinovskaya, Penn State, Fencing
Penn State fencer Olga Kalinovskaya was the first Nittany Lion to receive the Suzy Favor award. She was a two-time captain and led PSU to the 1995 and 1996 NCAA fencing titles. Named College Sports magazine's collegiate Fencer of the Year as a senior, the St. Petersburg, Russia, native owned a career dual meet record of 181-5. She was just the second collegiate fencer ever to win four NCAA titles in four years, Kalinovskaya was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd". Kalinovskaya excelled in the classroom as well, boasting a 3.89 grade point average in electrical engineering. A two-time GTE first-team Academic All-America selection, she was a finalist for the NACDA postgraduate scholarship.
1997 - Gretchen Hegener, Minnesota, Swimming & Diving
As a junior, Gretchen Hegener became the first Minnesota woman to win the Big Ten-Suzy Favor Award. At the 1997 Swimming & Diving NCAA Championships, Hegener broke an eight-year-old American record in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:00.32) and became Minnesota's first national swimming champion. She was also a four-time 1997 Big Ten champion, winning the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay and earning All-America honors in each event. In addition, she set a new Minnesota record in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:11.60 as well winning four events at the 1997 Big Ten Championships.
1997 - Kathy Butler, Wisconsin - Track & Field
Kathy Butler became the fourth Badger to win Athlete of the Year on the women's side after capturing four top Big Ten track and field individual honors in 1997. She was named the conference's indoor and outdoor Athlete of the Year and of the Championships. In addition, she won six Big Ten and one national title in her senior year. Butler also picked up U.S. Track Coaches Association Indoor Athlete of the Year honors. She won the NCAA outdoor 3,000-meter race in 9:01.23 and also took second at the NCAA indoor 5,000 and third at the NCAA outdoor 1,500 and indoor mile. In Big Ten competition, Butler took the conference indoor championship mile, 3,000 and 5,000 crowns and won the Big Ten outdoor 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 competitions.
1998 - Sara Griffin, Michigan, Softball
The Big Ten's Pitcher of the Year and a first-team All-Conference honoree, she became the only Michigan softball player to earn first-team All-America status three times. She was the seventh Michigan student-athlete selected for the Athlete of the Year award and the second conference softball player chosen as Suzy Favor Athlete of the Year. Griffin, named a softball finalist for the national Honda Award in 1998, won a Michigan record third first-team All-America citation from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and led the Wolverines to the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and a fourth-consecutive NCAA Women's College World Series appearance. She finished her senior season ranked third in NCAA Division I season wins (35-3) and was MVP of the NCAA Regional 3 Championship. In additions, she was also named Michigan's 1995-96 Female Athlete of the Year award winner.
1999- Stephanie White, Purdue, Basketball
White led the Boilermakers to the NCAA title with a win over Duke in 1999. Runner-up for the National Player of the Year award, she was the Big Ten Player of the Year and a first-team All-America choice by Women's Basketball News Service, Associated Press and Sports Illustrated. She also won the Wade Trophy and the Honda Award. White's accolades list also includes being named the Most Valuable Player at the Big Ten Tournament in March1999 and the conference's Player of the Week four times during her final season. The national women's basketball Academic All-American of the Year, White averaged 20.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game as a senior. She posted 24 points as the Boilers upset then- No. 1 Tennessee on Nov. 15, 1998 and had 25 markers in a win over No. 4 Louisiana Tech on Dec. 19, 1998. White was the third Purdue women's athlete to win the Suzy Favor Award.
2000 - Lauren Cacciamani, Penn State, Volleyball
Cacciamani led the Nittany Lion volleyball squad to the 1999 NCAA National Championship and to the NCAA Final Four in 1998 and 1997. The three-time All-American was also named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player for two-consecutive seasons (1999 and 2000). Voted by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) as the 1999 national Co-Player of the Year, she was also the Honda Sports Award winner in volleyball and the Big Ten's Player of the Year. A two-time GTE Academic All-American and four-time All-Big Ten honoree, Cacciamani was one of the country's top hitters. She led the Lions and the league with a .396 hitting percentage as a senior and was tops in blocks with a 1.58 per game average. On her career, the Paramus, N.J. native hit .391 with 1,750 kills - the third-best total in PSU history. She is the Lions' total blocks career leader with 767. In her four years at PSU, the Lions recorded a 136-7 overall record (.951) and a 77-3 (.963) Big Ten mark, including back-to-back undefeated conference seasons (20-0) in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, she was only the second Penn State student-athlete and the first ever volleyball player to win this conference award.
2001 - Katie Douglas, Purdue, Basketball
Douglas helped lead the Boilermakers to the 2001 women's basketball national title game and earned Final Four All-Tournament Team laurels for her performance. A two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, Douglas was just the third player in conference history to twice be named a Kodak All-American. The recipient of the inaugural V Foundation Comeback of the Year award, she also earned the Chicago Tribune Silver Basketball Award as the Big Ten's top player and was a first-team Academic All-American. She graduated from Purdue as the only player to rank in the school's top 10 in points (third - 1,965), rebounds (eighth - 727), assists (third - 526), steals (first - 327) and blocks (ninth - 66). Douglas etched her name in two Big Ten career all-games categories -- scoring (10th place) and tied for second in steals. A two-time All-Big Ten Tournament pick, Douglas was also named to the 1999 NCAA Women's Final Four All-Tournament Team, when she helped the Boilermakers earn the national championship crown. A communications major, Douglas was the 10th overall selection in the WNBA draft and played for the Orlando Miracle under former Purdue coach Carolyn Peck.
2002 - Christie Welsh, Penn State, Soccer
Welsh helped establish Penn State women's soccer as one of the nation's top programs. She was the first PSU player to win the Hermann Trophy (as the women's college Player of the Year) and was a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) first-team All-American. She was selected as the Big Ten Player of the Year for three straight seasons- the first women's player in conference history to claim such a feat. As a junior, Welsh led the Big Ten in every offensive category and was ranked nationally in points (third with 2.62 pg), goals (fourth at 0.96 pg) and assists (eighth with 0.69 pg). She ended the year tied at No. 23 in NCAA career goals scored (69) and was also named the Soccer America Collegiate Most Valuable Player. Welsh was a member of the U.S. National Soccer Team that played in Finland in 2002. She also played for the U.S. Under 21 team in Mexico and France. Penn State's two-time Female Athlete of the Year (2000-01 and 2001-02), Welsh was also the Big Ten women's soccer Freshman of the Year in 1999. She was the third Nittany Lion to win a Big Ten Athlete of the Year award (and the second in just three years), following fencing's Olga Kalinovskaya in 1996 and volleyball's Lauren Cacciamani in 2000. The Massapequa Park, N.Y. native was the first soccer player (male or female) to be named Big Ten Athlete of the Year.
2003 - Perdita Felicien, Illinois, Track & Field
Felicien was named the 2003 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Female Track Athlete of the Year after her championship performances in 2003. It was the second time in her career that she won this award after being selected in 2001. Along with winning the NCAA title in the 100-meter hurdles, she set a meet record in the semifinals of that event with a time of 12.68, also tying the Big Ten record. The 2003 Big Ten 100-meter hurdle champion, she clocked the nation's then-fastest time of 12.88 seconds at the conference championship, which ranked her as the No. 1 collegiate hurdler in the country and among the top-15 hurdlers in the world at that time. Felicien also won the Big Ten indoor title in the 60 hurdles and is an All-American in that event along with being named an All-American in the 4x100 outdoor relay. Named the Most Outstanding Athlete at the Drake Relays for a third consecutive year, she was also named the Midwest Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year and is a three-time winner of the University's Dike Eddleman Award for Female Athlete of the Year (2001, 2002, 2003). A native of Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Felicien is a first-team All-Big Ten honoree and an Academic All-Big Ten selection.
2004 - Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, Basketball
Mazzante is the first player in Penn State history, and the fourth in Big Ten annals, to repeat as conference Player of the Year. A two-time Associated Press All-American, Mazzante is the only player in conference history to be named a four-time first-team All-Big Ten selection. She also claimed 17 Big Ten Player of the Week awards, a conference record. She completed her career as the Lady Lions' and Big Ten's all-time scoring leader with 2,919 points, which also ranks ninth all-time in NCAA history. Mazzante holds numerous other school and conference records, including three-point goals scored (357, third in NCAA history), single season scoring (872 in 2001-02) and freshman scoring (529). She reached the 1,000 and 2,000-point plateaus faster than any other player in Big Ten history and scored the most points in a single game in league annals (49 versus Minnesota on Dec. 28, 2001). Mazzante helped PSU earn a No. 1 seed in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. During her career, the Lady Lions advanced to three straight NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, including the 2004 Elite Eight, and back-to-back Big Ten championships in 2003 and 2004.
2005 - Jennie Ritter, Michigan, Softball
Ritter pitched all but two innings in Michigan's seven Women's College World Series (WCWS) games to lead the Wolverines to the 2005 national title, the first for a team east of the Mississippi River and the first for a Big Ten softball program. The All-Conference first-team honoree was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) first-team All-American and one of three finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. She ranked second in the country with 38 victories in 2005, as her 417 strikeouts set a school record and her three no-hitters equaled a program best. On the year, Ritter produced a record of 38-4 with an earned run average of 0.92 while collecting 34 complete games and 16 shutouts. In the WCWS, she boasted a 5-2 record, 60 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 53 innings pitched.
2006 - Tiffany Weimer, Penn State, Soccer
Weimer led a Penn State squad that won its eighth-straight Big Ten Championship and posted an undefeated 23-0-2 campaign in 2005. The Nittany Lions earned their third College Cup appearance in six years, while finishing ranked No. 2 in the nation, their highest-finish ever. After breaking numerous Big Ten records, Weimer earned her second-consecutive Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year laurel and was the runner-up for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, given to college soccer's top player, for the second-consecutive year. A three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American, she established the Big Ten single-season mark with 32 goals, while also setting the conference career record (91). In addition, she ranks among the Top 10 in NCAA history in goals in a season (No. 6 - 32) and career goals (No. 9 - 92).