SMC Honors Student Athletes

Coaches, faculty, parents and student athletes gathered in the Santa Monica College Pavilion for the annual General Advisory Board Student Athlete Awards on Thursday, May 21.

The event served as an opportunity for athletes to be recognized for their achievements as well as to enjoy a hot breakfast.

The ceremony opened with a welcoming by GAB president Alonzo Hill, followed by brief remarks from SMC President Dr. Chui Tsang. Tsang spoke of the need to continue the tradition of the awards ceremony, despite looming budget cuts across the school.

"I think it provides an opportunity for some of the students to learn in a way that allows them to be inspired that they otherwise would not find in other styles of teaching, or learning," said Tsang. "Students respond to different types of learning environment and this is a kind of learning environment that is particularly inspiring for some of them. So we want to continue with that."

The male recipients were cross-country athlete Jesus De Lara, track and field athlete Dominic Jester, water polo player Tyler Contarsy, football player Charlie Hatchett, basketball player Rodney Hudson, volleyball player RJ Storm-Larson, and swimmer Theodore Boehm.

Among the female recipients were tennis player Anastasia Eliseeva, basketball player Karlia Batalla, soccer player Kelsea Rock, volleyball player Rebecca Chase, cross-country athlete Karissa Gonalez, track and field athlete Leanne Wilder, water polo player Erin Walker, and swimming and diving athlete Sarah Ritz.

The award recipients were chosen by their respective coaches after meeting selected criteria. "This event is a way for the coaches to honor athletes that do three things: they inspire their teammates, they have solid sports achievement, and they also have academic achievement," said Judith Neveau, SMC director of community relations. "Because this an opportunity to honor all three sides of that, it's really helped the athletic program to understand the value of academic achievement."

The recipients were appreciative of their awards, and some delivered heart-felt acceptance speeches. "To me, the award means that all the hard work that I've put in has finally paid off," said De Lara. "What makes something impossible possible is the will to commit."

As far as the budget cuts, the actual magnitude is still uncertain. "We will find out very shortly," said SMC athletic director Gregg Simmons of the budget cuts impact. "Everything just recently went on. We'll be in meetings this week and next week and go over those things, and see what impact it will have on us."