SMC Exceptional Student Athletes of the year

Santa Monica College's outstanding student athletes received their Student Athlete of the Year Awards on Thursday, May 19. The awards were presented at the SMC General Advisory Board breakfast.

"Today we have the pleasure of honoring the cream of the crop," said GAB president Jack Srebnik in his opening remarks.

Dr. Rhonda Hyatt, SMC athletic program director said, "There's one thing we can always count on: the dedication of the coaches and the student athletes. Today we're here to honor the student athletes."

The SMC Cheer Squad presented three routines at the ceremony. Then Coach Susan Corpus presented the cheer squad athlete of the year Alexis Lanman with her award.

Women's Basketball Head coach Lydia Strong praised women's basketball athlete of the year Kristine Jensen, saying she was "absolutely in my 21 years of coaching the best athlete I ever coached."

Head Coach Eric Barron presented the men's cross-country athlete of the year Mo Elmi his award. He said, "Mo Elmi has stood out over two years of running here.... He is well deserving of this award."

Barron also presented the women's cross-country athlete of the year award to Maria Bautista. He said, "Maria Bautista has acted as a leader.... She continued her leadership this semester."

Robert Taylor, head football coach, presented the football athlete of the year award to Charles Searcy saying, "Charles is one of 11 football athletes that made the Dean's honor list. They say football players are all brawn and no brain, but not this guy.... He was recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in our division."

Aaron Benditson, head coach of women's soccer, presented Liz Angermeier's award.

Hyatt presented the softball athlete of the year award to Amanda Salvestrini. She said, "Amanda has a great deal of passion for her sport. January 1 we didn't have a softball coach. I beat the bushes for a coach; Amanda beat the bushes for a team." She spoke about the demands placed upon Salvestrini with a team composed largely of new players. "We asked her to step into a very difficult position to play shortstop," Hyatt said. "We're hoping her career does not end here and she gets to play at the next level."

Swimming Coach Steve Contarsy presented the men's swimmer of the year award to James Parrish. He also presented the women's swimmer of the year award to Denise Tran, telling the audience she made the All-American list.

Women's Tennis Coach Richard Goldenson presented Masami Hashimoto's award. She was the only player to qualify for post-season play. "She hurt her wrist mid-semester but she still scrambled after the ball," he said.

Tommie Smith, head coach of men's track and field presented Chinedozi Foster's award. He said, "I'm working on getting him a scholarship back home so he can help his family out.... He wants to go into juvenile work and I applaud that because it's just like teaching." Foster said, "Thank you for letting me come out here from Florida and for helping me mature."

Barron presented the women's track and field athlete of the year award to Lisha Burch. He said, "She was the only member of the 4 x 100 meter team who wasn't a long-distance athlete. But she didn't complain. She's a key part of the 4 x 100 team going to championships this year."

Brian Schirripa was awarded men's volleyball athlete of the year. Coach Mark Lee said, "Every coach dreams about this kind of player. If I asked him to do something, he did it."

Eric Luckenbach, the assistant women's volleyball coach, presented Claudia Jacobs' award. He said, "she really embodies the great strengths we look for: the hard work on and off the court, and the ability to make everybody laugh."

Steve Contarsy, men's water polo head coach, presented Jake Sands' award.

Head Coach Mike Santo presented the women's water polo athlete of the year award to Sally Sachs' in absentia.

Men's basketball athlete of the year Efrem Lawrence was also absent. Head Coach Trevor Schickman gave a heart-felt and moving speech for Lawrence. He said, "Efrem Lawrence played about three games freshman year, for a total of about 20 minutes. Sophomore year he started every game."

Schickman said many of the sophomores on the basketball team have received offers of scholarships. Then he said, "Efrem has not received an offer, and this is a crime. He was the emotional backbone of this team. We built the team this year around him. He supported me as a first-year coach. He supported his teammates. I am sad he was not here today. He will be a tremendous person wherever he goes in his life, but just to be selfish, I will be sad to see him go. I will miss him."