OXFORD, Ohio - The Miami University athletic department announced Tuesday that eight student-athletes have earned its most prestigious annual awards and will be honored at halftime of the Miami versus Ohio football game on Saturday, Oct. 27.
For the second consecutive year, Jessica Simpson (softball) was named the Female Athlete of the Year, while Matt Honchel (baseball) was named Male Athlete of the Year. Matt Rosinski (baseball) was named Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Riekie Honiball (tennis) earned Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. The Phillip Shriver Culture of Champions Medal of Honor - which is presented to an outstanding graduating male and female student-athlete who have been members of a championship team during their careers, along with being leaders and epitomizing Love and Honor while advancing Miami Athletics' vision of being a Culture of Champions - has been awarded to Anthony Kokal (football) and Stephanie Danesis (tennis). The Darrell Hedric Award was earned by Jordan Goffena (men's track and field), while Martha Buckley (synchronized skating) captured the Leann Grimes Davidge Award.
Simpson (North Canton, Ohio) will go down as one of the greatest Miami softball players of all-time. She finished her career in 2012 holding nearly every pitching record in the Miami record books. She also owns Mid-American Conference career records for wins (102) and shutouts (45). During her senior campaign, Simpson led the RedHawks with a 32-15 record and a 1.06 ERA. The 32 wins, along with her 358 strikeouts were both single-season school records, breaking the records she set in 2011. She won the MAC Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season and was named the MAC Tournament MVP for the second time in her career. At the NCAA Tournament, she held fifth-ranked Tennessee scoreless, leading the RedHawks to a 1-0 win. Simpson was also named to the All-Mideast Region Team by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, and earned a spot in Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd segment on May 29.
Honchel (Harrodsburg, Ky.) had one of the greatest debut seasons in Miami baseball history. He earned Freshmen All-America honors after posting a league-best .395 batting average with 92 hits in 233 at-bats. He ranked 14th in the nation and was the leading freshman in the NCAA's national statistics rankings. Honchel played in all 59 games for Miami, starting 57 of those between outfield and designated hitter positions. He hit safely in 49 contests, never going more than two consecutive games without a base-knock, and finished the year with a team-season best 16-game hitting streak. His hit total was the fourth-most in a single season at Miami, just four shy of the school record.
Rosinski (University Heights, Ohio) made 24 appearances for Miami during the 2012 season. He finished his career with 104 appearances, the second-most in Miami history. He was 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA during his senior campaign. He registered 10 saves, which is tied for the second-most single-season in school history. Rosinski earned a spot on the 2012 Academic All-MAC Team after graduating in May with a 3.7 GPA and a degree in accounting and finance.
Honiball (Windhoek, Namibia) the RedHawks to a 15‐10 overall record and fourth straight regular‐season conference championship. She finished 11-6 at her natural position of No. 2 singles and 19-11 in doubles during her senior season. Honiball earned 140 wins during her career and graduated in May with a 3.69 GPA. She majored in mathematics and statistics risk management, with a minor in insurance.
Kokal (Warren, Ohio) was part of the 2010 MAC Championship Team. He was a Third-Team All-MAC selection in 2009 and a two-time member of the MAC All-Academic Team. He served as a team captain in 2011 and according to coaches was always pushing teammates to be better and play with integrity and class. As a fifth-year senior in 2011, he led the team with 91 tackles, two sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries. Already holding an undergraduate degree in accounting, Kokal earned his accountancy Master's degree this past May.
Danesis (Akron, Ohio) was the 2012 MAC Women's Tennis Player of the Year. She led the RedHawks to four consecutive MAC regular season championships and an undefeated 32-0 record in MAC regular season matches during her conference career. They are the first team in any sport to go undefeated in MAC play for four straight seasons. Danesis swept through league play during the year, winning all eight matches at No. 1 and posting a 14-6 overall record in dual matches. She was 10-3 in the top flight after starting the year in the No. 3 spot. She missed the entire fall season with an injury. Despite that her leadership became more apparent during the period, as she showed up for each practice with a positive attitude and found ways to encourage and pusher her teammates. Once she returned to practice, her work ethic and and professionalism was very apparent as she helped lead what was a much younger team than the past three years to another MAC title. Danesis graduated in May with a degree in exercise science.
Goffena (Sidney, Ohio) came to Miami starting with the 2010-11 season after transferring from Cal Poly. Goffena, a Second-Team All-MAC performer this past year, was the runner-up in the decathlon at the MAC Championships and qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in the 110m hurdles, where he placed 36th in 14.14, which ranks him second in school history. He also ranks third all-time at Miami in the decathlon with 7,314 points. As a senior, he was named to the 2012 USTFCCCA Men's Division I All-Academic Track and Field Team. An example of his leadership came at the 2012 MAC Championship. Despite already competing in the decathlon, he volunteered to participate in the 110m hurdles and the long jump which were going on at the same time. In fact he ran the hurdles in the middle of the decathlon's pole vault competition. Having to do that probably cost him the decathlon championship, plus his exhaustion from running 12 events probably cost him the hurdles title. Even so, he earned a total of 14 points for the team from those three events, instead of the 10 points he would have received for winning a single title.
Buckley (Essex, Mass.) spent the past two seasons on the senior team after spending time on the junior and collegiate teams as a freshman and sophomore. As a sophomore she earned both the junior and collegiate teams' Team Spirit Award, and won the senior team's version of the award the past two seasons. Buckley helped the collegiate team win the national championship in 2010 and was named the senior team's Most Improved Skater in 2012. Her hard work took her from a "swing skater" on the junior team her freshman year to a "full-line skater" on the senior team by her senior year. According to her head coach Carla DeGirolamo, she went above and beyond in her physical and mental training day-after-day and year-after-year to be the best, and she well surpassed everyone's expectations. At the end of the 2011-12 academic year, she was honored in front of the entire athletic department with the "Spirit of Miami" award. That 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. Buckley also was the driving force behind the sizable gift given to the synchronized skating program from its 2012 seniors.
Miami's Male and Female Athlete of the Year honors are awarded to any student-athlete (freshman, sophomore, junior or senior) who has made significant athletic contributions to his/her respective team for that academic year. The Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards are bestowed upon a student-athlete of senior standing, who has excelled in the classroom as well as in the athletic arena.
The Culture of Champions Medal of Honor is presented in honor of former Miami University President Dr. Phillip R. Shriver, who served in the position from 1965 to 1981. His support of the athletic programs, student-athletes, coaches and support staff went far beyond his stint as Miami University's 17th president. A fixture at Miami Athletics events, Dr. Shriver's legacy lives on through the development of athletics during his tenure as president and his unwavering support of the Red and White.
Noted as a top award for an upperclass female student-athlete, the Leann Grimes Davidge Award is presented in honor of the former Miami women's tennis coach from 1979 to 1985, who tragically lost her life in an automobile accident. In six years as head coach, Davidge compiled an overall record of 93-50 and 25-1 in MAC action, while capturing four consecutive MAC Championships. This award is meant to keep her legacy alive through recognition of outstanding female student-athletes who have excelled in athletics, academics and leadership.
The Darrell Hedric Award is presented in honor of a 1955 Miami Alumnus and former men's basketball coach and associate athletic director emeritus, who has had a more-than 50-year association with Miami Athletics. He was a three-time MAC Coach of the Year and two-time Ohio Basketball Coach of the Year, leading Miami to four NCAA Tournament appearances in 14 years guiding the Red and White.