June 12, 2012
IRVING, Texas - Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced the 12 student-athletes that will receive the C-USA Spring Spirit of Service Award. The C-USA Spirit of Service Award is designed to recognize the community service efforts of the league's student-athletes, based upon significant community service, good academic standing and participation in their elected sport. The Spirit of Service award is presented three times throughout the season, with today's honorees representing Conference USA's spring sports: baseball, men's and women's golf, women's rowing, softball, men's and women's tennis and men's and women's outdoor track and field.
Complete Spring Spirit of Service Release
2012 SPRING C-USA SPIRIT OF SERVICE HONOREES:
Rachel Boerner, East Carolina, Women's Track & Field
Karley King, Houston, Women's Track & Field
Ashley Gue, Marshall, Softball
Courtney Collins, Memphis, Women's Tennis
Andrew Murphy, Rice, Baseball
Emily Carstens, SMU, Women's Rowing
Beth Dietrich, Southern Miss, Softball
Mariam Kurdadze, Tulane, Women's Tennis
Abigail Gorman, Tulsa, Women's Rowing
Michael Busby, UAB, Baseball
Vanessa Perez, UCF, Softball
Ross Rotwein, UTEP, Men's Golf
East Carolina's Rachel Boerner has given back to the Greenville community while trying to achieve success in the classroom and for the Pirate track and field team. Boerner is currently working on her master's degree in medical physics and earned a spot on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll. She transferred to ECU this year after completing her undergraduate degree from Calvin College, where she earned Division III All-American accolades in the 400-meter dash in 2010 and 2011 (indoor and outdoor). A native of Bergenfield, N.J., Boerner volunteered this season with the ECU Pirate Club, Salvation Army, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Ignite Church.
Karley King is a junior on the Houston track & field squad originally from Youngville, La. She claimed the 2012 Conference USA titles in the pole vault at both the Indoor and Outdoor Championships. A three-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, King is a kinesiology-exercise science major with a minor in health. In addition to her athletic and academic achievements, she has been very involved in the community. She is the UH SAAC President in charge of organizing the various community service opportunities in which her fellow student-athletes participate. Events have included Marathon Kids Literacy Night, UH Women's Day, UH National Night Out, gathering Military care packages and glasses through the Fight For Sight program. King also worked on Harvard Literacy Night to advocate literacy with elementary students and Step-Out Walk for Diabetes, which raised funds for the American Diabetes Association and attend the annual walk with the Houston track team.
Marshall's Ashley Gue continues to make her mark in her hometown of Huntington as a repeat recipient of the Spirit of Service Award. The junior led the Herd softball team with 32 stolen bases and batted a career-best .325 for the season. Gue also earned a spot on the C-USA All-Tournament Team after picking up four hits as she helped Marshall advance to the title game. Gue organized Operation Christmas Child, which sent shoe boxes full of supplies to needy children around the world. She also visited the Dominican Republic last summer as part of a mission trip with her church. Gue is an active member of softball's Lil Sis Program, which connects Herd softball players with area youth softball players and provides guidance and friends to the youngsters. She also assisted her teammates with the creation of decorations for the St. Jude 5k race and worked with young kids during the Geneva Kent Elementary Rec Day. A chemistry and psychology double major, Gue has made the Dean's List each semester and is a three-time selection to the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Memphis junior Courtney Collins has stood out with several accomplishments as a Tiger student-athlete. A native of Fulton, Miss., she is a three-time all-conference selection that earned a spot on the first team in 2011 and 2012. Collins is also a three-time recipient of the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal as she maintains a 3.82 GPA as an interdisciplinary studies major. She has volunteered to feed the homeless in Memphis, as well as serve as a volunteer mentor with Hanley Elementary School, Girls Incorporated and A Tiger Christmas. Collins also worked in her home state to provide tornado relief and assist with rebuilding efforts in Smithville, Miss.
Andrew Murphy, a freshman student-athlete on the Owls' nationally-ranked baseball team, is already a leader on the Rice campus and in the community. In addition to serving as an Orientation Week Coordinator, the Shreveport, La., native volunteered each week with the elementary schools as a Rice Reader. He has more than 100 service hours in this academic year alone, and despite juggling Division I baseball and his academic course load he even found time to serve as the host for Rice's student-athlete talent show. He is a co-leader of Rice's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which this year was named the top SAAC organization in the country among Division I institutions. With SAAC, he has been involved with Rice's The Student-Athlete Welcome Back picnic, Owls on Stage, Food Drive, Rice Readers, Night of the Owl, Berry Family Baseball Clinic, Baseball camps & pitching/catching clinics, Houston Astros Fundraiser and O-Week Advisor.
SMU junior rower Emily Carstens earned a spot on the 2012 All-Conference USA team. A native of Tulsa, Okla., she has made an immediate impact with her service to the Dallas community. She volunteered with the Get Kidz Fit Fest, a fun and free fitness festival for children and their families put on by the Dallas Area Coalition to Prevent Childhood Obesity. More than 3,000 plus youngsters and their families attended this year's event. She has also volunteered at the Stonewall Jackson Elementary School carnival and silent auction, the Halloween Carnival for the Foundry Church. Carstens participated in Relay for Life, organizing a team to represent SMU rowing. She also continues to work with the Big Brother, Big Sisters of Dallas. Carstens is a three-time selection to the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll as a business management major.
A Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, Southern Miss sophomore pitcher Beth Dietrich is active in all student-athlete service functions including Operation Christmas Child, an annual service drive to put together Christmas boxes for area children, the "Black Out Hunger" can food drive and the yearly on-campus Halloween Carnival. She is also a volunteer pitching coach at a local high school where she gives free pitching lessons and regularly visits the Dubard School, an on-campus school for children with speech and hearing disabilities. Dietrich, a native of Manvel, Texas, finished the 2012 season ranked No. 28 nationally in walks allowed per seven innings, higher than any other C-USA pitcher. She also led the Golden Eagles in appearances (28), strikeouts (81), wins (7), and complete games (15).
An active member of SAAC for all four years of her career, Tulane senior tennis player Mariam Kurdadze has represented the Green Wave well on the court and in the community. The native of Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association's Freshman of the Year in 2008 and was a four-year selection to the LSWA first team. She is also a four-time All-Conference USA player and member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and Tulane 3.0 Club. As part of her SAAC responsibilities, she has participated in the Shadow-A-Student/Athlete Day, Wave Days at the SuperDome and the SAAC Fall Food Drive. Kurdadze worked the A's and Aces Tennis Clinic seven times. This Spring, she helped with the Final Four Dribble program held in conjunction of the NCAA Men's Final Four in New Orleans.
Tulsa senior Abigail Gorman of Wauwatosa, Wis., was a member of the Lightweight 4+ and nationally-ranked Lightweight 8+ Tulsa crews this season. She participated in a number of community service projects, including working with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, St. Jude's Foundation and Jog for Jill to support lung cancer research. A speech pathology major, Gorman was a four-time member of the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, Tulsa Dean's List and Athletic Director's List. She also spends her spare time as a teacher's assistant at Kendall Whittier Elementary School.
Senior pitcher Michael Busby was a leader on the UAB baseball team that captured its first Conference USA tournament title in program history, earning MVP honors. Busby has also been involved with a number of charities, including Field of Angels, where he played with children in a handicapped baseball league. He also took part as a volunteer for children events such as Light the Night and Operation Christmas Child. Busby served dinner at an event called Carbs for a Cause and called bingo numbers at the Golden Living Center for Elderly. He spent several hours at The Bell Center visiting young children with disabilities on a number of occasions. Busby helped coordinate a visit to Young Memorial Field for kids from The Bell Center during Family Day for UAB baseball. Busby, a native of Vicksburg, Miss., recorded a perfect 4.0 grade point average during his final semester at UAB and is a two-time C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll recipient.
UCF senior centerfielder Vanessa Perez is a 2012 All-Conference USA second team selection as a member of the Knights' softball team. The interdisciplinary studies major from San Diego, Calif., is also a three-time selection to the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll. During the holiday season, Perez helped organize the Gingerbread House of Hope, which enabled underprivileged kids to receive gifts through the Central Florida Children's Home. She served as a mentor for the Girl Scouts of Citrus County, working with a diverse group of at risk middle and high school schools. She taught them life lessons to apply in school, at home and with friends, while also preparing them for college. Vanessa volunteered at Florida Hospital for Children, doing arts and crafts and playing games with youngsters who are dealing with serious illnesses. Throughout the year, she participated in the Seminole County Youth Program, meeting with a group of at-risk teenagers once a month to discuss life goals and lessons. Perez was also active in the Friends of Jaclyn program as the softball program "adopted" a 10-year old girl with a brain tumor, and she has spent time with the program for the last three years and the team was involved with her life off the field as well.
UTEP sophomore golfer Ross Rotwein has made it a priority to give back to his hometown El Paso community. He has played in 10 tournaments for the Miners during his career, while earning a spot on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll three times. Rotwein has participated in 43.5 community service hours during the 2012-13 athletic year. He took part in the Anti-Bullying campaign by speaking to students at schools, and also played a part in the school-wide Project Move. He and his team went to the El Paso Chamizal and participated in "Keep El Paso Beautiful" by cleaning up the park and potting plants. He also participated in the Aboud Walk, had multiple participations in the First Tee of El Paso, helped at the YMCA Golf tournament, and volunteered for SAAC Hunger.
Conference USA (C-USA) is a NCAA Division I-A Conference based in Irving, Texas. Its membership consists of 12 schools - East Carolina University, University of Houston, Marshall University, University of Memphis, Rice University, Southern Methodist University (SMU), University of Southern Mississippi, Tulane University, University of Tulsa, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), University of Central Florida (UCF) and University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). This realignment was formed on July 1, 2005, and the Conference was first established in 1995. C-USA offers 20 sports total, nine sports for men (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and indoor and outdoor track and field) and 11 for women (basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, rowing, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field and volleyball).