April 23, 2012

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OXFORD, Ohio - Miami University synchronized skating's Martha Buckley (Essex, Mass./Manchester Essex Regional) and men's cross country/track and field's Brian Gallagher (Westlake, Ohio/St. Ignatius) are the 2012 recipients of the sixth annual Spirit of Miami Award, presented to both a female and male senior student-athlete for each of their exceptional enthusiastic commitments to their teams.

The awards were presented Monday night (April 23) at the athletic department's annual Senior Dessert at Miami's Shriver Center.

The Spirit of Miami Award is presented annually to the seniors who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to their team. They were the "spirit" of the team, the team members who strived without recognition, achieved humbly for the benefit of the team and passionately contributed behind-the-scenes for the sheer privilege of experience, loyalty and investment in academic and athletic opportunity.

The winners personify the Miami University motto...

"Prodesse quam conspici" - to accomplish without being conspicuous.

Buckley, an organizational communications major with a Spanish minor, owns a 3.23 cumulative grade point average and is the first synchronized skater to earn this honor. She is a four-year member of the synchronized skating program and a two-time letterwinner. Four times in her career she has been voted by her teammates as the Team Spirit Award Winner, earning the honor for both the junior and collegiate teams in 2010 and for the senior team in 2011 and 2012. Buckley skated on the junior team her freshman season, was a cross skater on both the collegiate and junior teams as a sophomore, and was a member of the senior team her final two seasons. She served as team co-captain of the junior team in 2010 and of the senior team in 2012. Buckley helped Miami to the program's sixth consecutive national title as a sophomore in 2010. As a junior, she was a part of a team that advanced to the 2011 ISU World Championships. In her final season, Buckley and her teammates had an impressive showing at the U.S. National Championships and earned the Professional Skaters Association Award for Best Performance by any team at the national championships.

"Martha epitomizes the Spirit of Miami - she is what this award is all about," said synchronized skating head coach Carla DeGirolamo. "She started her career as a swing skater on the junior team and worked her way to skating almost every event her senior season as a member of the senior team. Through everything, Martha's passion and love for the sport, for her team, and for Miami only grew stronger and was infectious. Martha bleeds Red and White and truly lives her life with Love and Honor."

Gallagher, a zoology major with a minor in history, owns a 3.64 grade point average and also is the first for men's cross country/track and field to garner this award. In 2009, Gallagher clocked a 26:01 at the Loyola Lakefront Invite to finish 28th in the best 8K time of his Miami career. Later that year, he posted time of 3:58:54 in the 1500m at the RedHawk Invitational to finish second, the best finish and time of his Miami career in the event. Finishes cannot convey Gallagher's impact on the Miami cross country and track and field programs. Despite injuries throughout his career, his work ethic to return to competition was tireless and Gallagher was a constant and consistent pillar of support for his teammates. Although he often had to do alternative workouts in place of the team workouts due to injury, Gallagher was always present at practice to encourage and support the team before commencing with his own workout. At home meets if he was unable to compete, Gallagher would spend the entire day contributing to the event as a meet official or as a public address announcer.

"Brian started out his career in promising fashion but endured injuries which have held him out for significant periods of time. Despite his setbacks, he came to practice every day and was a supportive team member no matter how frustrated he was about his own progress," said men's cross country/track and field head coach Warren Mandrell. "Brian was always looking for ways that he could help the team, and every day he would show up with a smile on his face and make everyone thankful for their blessings."

John and Lois Cocanougher, a Miami merger, created an endowment and named the award in honor of John's father--John E. Cocanougher, Sr. Mr. and Mrs. Cocanougher were present for Monday night's ceremony.

Spirit of Miami Award Winners:
2012 ... Rachelle Boff, soccer
2010 ... Andrew Mock, golf, and Lindsay Randall, softball
2009 ... Rion Robinson, football, and Stephanie Wilson, soccer
2008 ... Charlie Effinger, hockey and Sarah Fletcher, women's track and field
2007 ... Dan Leonard, baseball; Jamie Morris, men's swimming; Shannon Chew, soccer, and Laura Vlasek, tennis