By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – The Bulls rolled out the red carpet to celebrate a special year in USF Athletics on Sunday at the Sun Dome.
Every USF athletic team gathered for the first annual Stampede of Champions that featured a Hollywood-style awards show after the entire Bulls family dined on the Sun Dome’s main floor.
The event started off like a blockbuster movie premiere with dressed-up student-athletes posing for “paparazzi” cameras before doing interviews that aired during the program. The reception was sponsored by Lowe’s in the Arena Club.
“It was a good experience for the student-athletes. It was a well-put-together program and I was very impressed with everything,” head track and field coach Warren Bye said.
The main part of Sunday’s program was the awards show that was presented by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. A total of 18 awards were divided among categories that included best play (Sharla Passariello, women’s soccer), coach of the year (Ken Eriksen, softball) and athletes of the year (Anthony Collins, men’s basketball; Sara Nevins, softball).
Baseball player Alex Mendez received the night’s most distinguished honor when he was presented with the Lee Roy Selmon Award, an enduring example of integrity, academic excellence, compassion and competitiveness. Selmon, the program’s former athletic director, had an amazing desire to help student-athletes thrive on and off the athletic stage and Mendez was honored to be associated with a man he greatly admires.
“I was completely honored to even be in the same sentence as Lee Roy Selmon,” Mendez said. “He’s done so much not only for the University, but for Tampa and college athletics overall. I was super honored to represent the baseball team and my family. I feel blessed to have won the award.”
The complete list of awards and recipients is listed below. Awards were decided by votes from SAAC members and USF senior staff members.
Best Play – Sharla Passariello (women’s soccer)
Male Newcomer of the Year – Matt Oneal (track and field, men’s soccer)
Female Newcomer of the Year – Christiane Endler (women’s soccer)
USF Spirit Award – Marsha Harper (women’s soccer)
Team Sportsmanship – softball
Most Improved Student-Athlete – Zac Gilcrease (baseball), Dallas Jaye (men’s soccer)
Moment of the Year – men’s basketball (NCAA tournament appearance)
Stafflete of the Year – Willie Henderson (facilities)
Best Comeback – Juan Carlos Acuna Gerard (men’s tennis, win over UNF’s Nemscek on 2/8/13)
Team Community – women’s soccer
Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year – Alex Mendez (baseball)
Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year – Stephanie Medina (softball)
Team of the Year – softball
Coach of the Year – Ken Eriksen (softball)
Unsung Hero – Catherine Leibbrandt (women’s soccer)
Male Athlete of the Year – Anthony Collins (basketball)
Female Athlete of the Year – Sara Nevins (softball)
Lee Roy Selmon Award – Alex Mendez (baseball)