Fawcett, Sandy named Penn State Athletes of the Year

June 18, 2009

University Park, Pa. — Senior women's volleyball player Nicole Fawcett (Zanesville, Ohio) and senior men's gymnast Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ontario) have earned this year's honors as Penn State's Athletes of the Year. This year's Honda Award winner for women's volleyball, Fawcett led her team to back-to-back national championships her final two years, while Sandy leaves Penn State a highly decorated All-American and winner of the 2009 Nissen-Emery Award, the top prize in men's collegiate gymnastics.

Both Sandy and Fawcett are now eligible for the Big Ten's Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award and Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year Award. Those awards will be announced as part of the Second Annual Big Ten Network Awards Show at 10 p.m. this Friday, June 19.

A finalist for the Honda Broderick Cup, Fawcett capped off her senior season with Penn State's second straight NCAA Championship in women's volleyball. The 2009 AVCA Division I National Player of the Year and a member of the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team, Fawcett aided the Nittany Lions in setting a new NCAA record with 64 consecutive matches won, closing out the 2009 campaign with a perfect 39-0 match record. Penn State also made history by winning 111 consecutive individual games, finishing the year winning 114 out of 116 total games.

Fawcett, the 2009 Big Ten Player of the Year, ranked second on the squad with 3.78 kills per game on .358 hitting with a team-high 40 service aces, also adding in 210 digs and 83 total blocks. Fawcett captured her fourth AVCA All-America honor and her third consecutive first team recognition. She was a unanimous pick for the All-Big Ten squad each year of her career, one of only nine athletes in conference history to receive unanimous selection all four years.

During Fawcett's time in Happy Valley, Penn State has amassed an incredible 134-8 record. The Nittany Lions have earned two trips to the NCAA semifinals, advancing to the final on both occasions, and captured the NCAA Division I National Championship twice. Fawcett finished her Penn State career second all-time in program history and eighth all-time on the Big Ten charts with 1,943 kills.

The 2009 Nissen-Emery Award winner, Casey Sandy penned the final chapter of one of the most storied careers in the vaunted history of Penn State men's gymnastics with a stellar senior year. Also Penn State's 2007-08 Male Athlete of the Year, Sandy was nothing short of dominant versus some of the nation's powerhouse programs, capturing 29 individual event titles while compiling 40 top three finishes in 2009. Sandy tied the single season conference record by earning five Big Ten Gymnast of the Week awards and, in doing so, shattered the career mark with a total of 11 league honors. In a road meet against Minnesota, he was spectacular, establishing a career-high single meet record by winning five of six events plus the all-around.

In the midst of his exceptional senior season, Sandy also was able to further his burgeoning international gymnastics career. Competing in the Elite Canada 2009, he dominated the field, winning the all-around on both days, thereby securing himself a roster spot on the Canadian National Team. Sandy's impressive accomplishments also garnered him attention outside of the gymnastics world. In February, he was selected as the 2008 Ken Giles Award winner, an honor presented annually to the amateur athlete of the year by his hometown of Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Later that month, Sandy earned praise one of the foremost and popular publications in the world, Sports Illustrated, when he was featured is SI's Faces in the Crowd.

Untimely injury denied him the chance to defend his 2008 Big Ten All-Around title and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award as Sandy suffered a severely sprained ankle during the team finals of the Big Ten Championships and could not complete the all-around rotation. Two weeks later at the national championships, despite still feeling the affects of the ankle injury, Sandy competed in his normal role and won the all-around in the national qualifier. He would go to secure his ninth career All-America honor when he placed seventh in the vault in the individual finals. The culmination of Sandy's brilliant career came when he was honored with the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award. Bestowed in recognition of outstanding athletic achievement, academic excellence, and sportsmanship, it is the highest honor presented in collegiate gymnastics. Also a dedicated and diligent student, Sandy will graduate with a degree in science, intending to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 when Indiana's Jim Spivey earned the inaugural award. The following year, a women's award was created. In 1991-92 as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of women's athletics in the Conference, the women's award was renamed in honor of former Wisconsin track standout and three-time recipient Suzy Favor.

  Penn State Male Athletes of the Year Penn State Female Athletes of the Year
1992 Steve Sergi, Soccer Fran McDermid, Swimming & Diving
1993 Nigel Sparks, Soccer Fran McDermid, Swimming & Diving
1994 Craig Fayak, Football Helen Holloway, Basketball
1995 Kerry Collins, Football Jill Pearsall, Field Hockey
1996 Jeff Hartings, Football OLGA KALINOVSKAYA, FENCING
1997 Kerry McCoy, Wrestling Kim McGreevy, Cross Country/Track
1998 Pete Lisicky, Basketball Terri Zemaitis, Volleyball
1999 Glenn Pritzlaff, Wrestling Bonnie Bremner, Volleyball
2000 Courtney Brown, Football LAUREN CACCIAMANI, VOLLEYBALL
2001 Joe Crispin, Basketball Christie Welsh, Soccer
2002 Jose Quinones, Volleyball CHRISTIE WELSH, SOCCER
2003 Larry Johnson, Football Kelly Mazzante, Basketball
2004 Kevin Tan, Gymnastics KELLY MAZZANTE, BASKETBALL
2005 LUIS VARGAS, GYMNASTICS Tanisha Wright, Basketball
2006 Paul Posluszny, Football TIFFANY WEIMER
2007 Paul Posluszny, Football Shana Cox, Track & Field
2008 Casey Sandy, Gymnastics Shana Cox, Track & Field
2009 Casey Sandy, Gymnastics Nicole Fawcett, Volleyball

BOLD CAPS indicates recipients of the Big Ten's Athletes of the Year Awards (Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year and Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year)

The above Athletes of the Year reflect only years since Penn State joined the Big Ten.

  • IMAGE: Penn State Sports Information

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Last Updated November 18, 2010