Monday, July 27, 2015

FOV Cavalier of the Year #9/#10

From Old Virginia celebrates its birthday (a bit late this year) in a unique way: by recognizing one of Virginia's student-athletes as the Cavalier of the Year. What are the criteria for the award? You decide; that's the beauty. I nominate the 12 athletes that I think have been the most outstanding during the latest season of UVA athletics, and provide a short summary of their accomplishments. You choose the winner in a poll that goes up after all 12 have had their moment in the spotlight. The full list of nominees is here.

 Over the next few weeks, two athletes at a time will be profiled, and you'll hear about what they've accomplished while representing Mr. Jefferson's University this year. The athletes are presented in a totally random order so as to hopefully not imply any endorsement one way or another. Athletes from all fields are considered; the point is to emphasize that UVA is about excellence across the entire department and doesn't shortchange its so-called non-revenue sports simply because they don't make headlines. Today's athletes: Ryan Shane and Courtney Swan.

Ryan Shane - Men's tennis

Team accomplishments:

-- National champions
-- ACC champions
-- ACC consecutive-win streak at 139

Personal accomplishments:

-- Singles national champion
-- ITA all-American (singles and doubles)
-- NCAA all-tournament team as no.1 singles
-- First-team all-ACC
-- ITA National Indoor Championship semifinalist
-- ITA Atlantic Regional singles champion
-- ITA Atlantic Regional doubles champion

Another year, another UVA tennis player completely dominating the national tennis scene.  Two years ago it was Jarmere Jenkins taking home a dump truck of assorted trophies.  Now it's Ryan Shane's turn to stake a very obvious claim as the best player on the best team in the country.

And Shane did something Jenkins, for all his hardware, fell just shy of: won the national singles championship.  This gives Shane two different legs of tennis's triple crown.  Shane is only the second UVA men's tennis player to win the singles title, after the original superstar Somdev Devvarman did it twice.  And quite a few players (most of them from Stanford) have won the singles title after their team won the national championship, but Shane, of course, is the first UVA player to pull off the feat.

Since Devvarman's championships, UVA has brought home six individual tennis titles - in that span, no other school has more than three.  So what Ryan Shane has done might not separate him much from his very illustrious predecessors (this is like praise with faint damnation), except in the unique combination of hardware he has.  But with every Ryan Shane that goes through, UVA separates further and further from the pack as currently the pre-eminent tennis program in the country.

Courtney Swan - Women's lacrosse - Attack

Team accomplishments:

-- NCAA second round

Personal accomplishments:

-- IWCLA 2nd-team all-American
-- IWCLA 1st-team all-region
-- 2nd-team all-ACC
-- ACC leader in assists per game
-- Tewaaraton Award nominee
-- VaSID 1st-team all-state
-- ACC women's lacrosse Scholar-Athlete of the Year
-- Capital One 3rd-team academic all-American
-- UVA's nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year

The women's lacrosse team pulled together quite a few individual accomplishments this year; picking one player out of the bunch isn't easy.  Rachel Vander Kolk was ACC Freshman of the Year.  Casey Bocklet was first-team all-everything.  Courtney Swan, obviously, was no slouch at all on the field, making a bunch of all-something teams herself and catching the eye of the Tewaaraton people, too.  And the ACC's top playmaker, leading the league in assists per game, always counts for something.

But you know how this nomination process goes, and winning something like Scholar-Athlete of the Year - emphasis on Scholar - makes the choice pretty easy after all.  Swan is as much a boss in the classroom as on the field - maybe more, which is saying something.  ACC recognition as your sport's top student is a big deal.  So is the Weaver-James-Corrigan Award, a $5,000 grant towards grad school that the ACC hands out to three athletes per school per year.  (She's going to be an orthopedic doc.)  Swan is a past winner of the NCAA's Elite 89 award as well, which is an automatic handout to the athlete at each national championship with the highest GPA.  And UVA has recognized her scholarhood too, making her the school's choice for NCAA Woman of the Year, which, by the way, her lack of a win should not be construed as "only" a nomination, since the award hasn't been handed out yet.  I try to mean it when I say these nominations are for all-around awesomeness; Courtney Swan makes it easy to back up my words.

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