EMU honors athletes

Item by Mike Zucconi

Eastern Mennonite University recognized the achievements of student athletes during the 2007-08 school year during its annual athletic awards banquet on April 15.

“Rookie of the Year” honors went to Kacie Ruark (Baltimore, Md./Western) of women’s soccer and George Johnson (Richmond, Va./Miller School) of men’s basketball. Ruark is an Old Dominion Athletic Conference second-team award winner and was named to the Virgina Sports Information Directors (VaSID) All-State second team after finishing the season leading the team in assists while tying for second in goals scored with six. Johnson manned the point-guard position for EMU most of the season and was second on the team in points scored, averaging 10.1 points per game while recording a team-leading 73 assists.

The season’s highest honors, the male and female “athlete of the year,” went to senior Ben Yoder (Lederach,Pa./Christopher Dock), who played men’s soccer and men’s volleyball, and sophomore Michelle Leaman (Broadway, Va./Broadway High School) for women’s indoor and outdoor track & field achievements.

In soccer, Yoder ranks 18th on the career scoring list with 17 goals and seven assists (41 points) and is 17th on the career goals list. This past year he was an All-ODAC honorable mention.

In men’s volleyball, Yoder tied for second in the nation in assists per game (12.85) and is a two-time NECVA Western Division Player of the Week, NECVA Player of the Week and was named to the the All-NECVA Western Division Second Team. Yoder was the team leader in digs with 259, and has registered 69 blocks, third overall on the squad. He holds the EMU record for assists in a single season and career assists, while placing second in the record books in digs with 821 and 11th in blocks with 170.

In women’s indoor track and field, Leaman was award the final indoor ODAC Athlete of the Week after breaking the school and conference record in the 60-meter hurdles (9.13). Her time in the hurdles also placed her 14th nationally. Leaman earned a first place medal in the women’s 55-meter hurdles at the season opening Marietta Open and also placed first in the same event at the ODAC indoor championships.

Leaman holds the indoor 55- and 60-meter hurdle records at EMU while also laying claim to the outdoor 100-meter and 400-meter hurdle records. Leaman was named ODAC Athlete of the Week for March 17-23 after breaking the Jopson Invitational meet record in the 100-meter hurdles, placing first overall in that event.

The Presidents Awards are given to senior student athletes that have had significant academic and athletic achievement, possess a strong character, including Christian commitment, and are involved in campus activities. This year’s award winners were Lisa King (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) and Ben Yoder.

King played all four years in a defensive role on the field-hockey team, where she accumulated four goals and 11 assists over her career. She is a 2007 All-ODAC First Team award winner, and was honored as a member of the ZAG/NFHCA Division III National Academic Team. King is a nursing major who also volunteers her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters, is co-president of the Student Nurses Association and is also co-president of class of 2008.

Yoder is a health and physical education major with minors in coaching and exercise science. He is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

The program opened with three seniors reflecting on their experience at EMU and how it has helped to shape them into who they are today. Dana Powell, women’s basketball, Jered Lyons, men’s basketball, and Natasha Viafora softball, shared with the audience the growth they have experienced and what it has meant to be student-athletes.

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