May 4, 2012
BERKELEY - In the middle of reading week for finals with graduation looming for many, the Golden Bears took an evening to honor each other and the many accomplishments of Cal Athletics at the second annual Oskis. On May 1, student-athletes across all 29 sports as well as coaches and Cal Athletics staff members donned their best threads and filled Haas Pavilion for the event planned by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).
"The Oskis committee and Bear SAAC worked so hard all year to make the second Oskis a huge success, and I am so proud of our student-athletes, especially the event co-chairs, Katie Benz and Shelley Harper," Director of Student-Athlete Affairs Allie Rowe said. "Danielle Brunache and Nick Forbes were fantastic hosts, and the talent displayed by the performers was incredible! I barely recognized the student-athletes out of their athletic clothes and in their formal wear. I'm sure this will become a tradition that all the student-athletes will look forward to each year!"
Part Oscars, part ESPYs, the Oskis is an event that recognizes the athletic accomplishments and community involvement of Cal student-athletes. Additionally, student-athletes acknowledge the people that help them succeed both academically and athletically throughout the year.
"It was really great," event co-chair and All-America women's swimmer Shelley Harper said. "The Cal athletic community here is amazing. An event like that shows that we all support each other - even though we may not be best friends with each other or even know each other's names - and that we all recognize each other's accomplishments. It was just awesome to be a senior at an event that I hosted and helped prepare. It was just a great ending to my involvement in SAAC, because that was the last event that I put on."
Before the show, student-athletes walked down the blue carpet with the opportunity to be interviewed and take pictures with Oski. Throughout the night, student-athletes showcased various talents and interacted with their peers over dinner.
"I had an amazing time hosting this year," Brunache said. "It was great to see that many student-athletes in one place celebrating everyone's accomplishments."
"I had a blast hosting the Oskis," Forbes said. "Before the show I was excited and a little nervous, but Danielle took a few digs at me in the beginning that helped me loosen up. The turnout was great, and the performers were outstanding. It was nice to see all the different sports together all dressed up having a good time."
The first-ever Oskis were held in May 2011 at the International House in Berkeley. This year, SAAC opted to move the student-athlete event of the year to Haas Pavilion, where the volleyball, basketball and gymnastics teams compete.
"I thought this year's event was 100-percent better," Harper said. "Last year was really fun for a first year. Moving it to the gym just allowed anyone who wanted to come, to come. Last year it was capped at 250 people, and this year we had more than 400. It was just really great to see all the student-athletes get excited about it and get dressed up and to be able to invite the staff. It's going to continue to be a really, really special event."
Some of the highlights of the evening were the talent performances. Steven Burke of track & field sang and played guitar to John Mayer's "Gravtiy." Equally talented yet on opposite sides of the spectrum, Maggie Simpson played her stand-up base while lacrosse's Melissa Humphrey demonstrated her jump roping skills, which had landed her a spot on the hit TV show "Glee." Men's soccer's Teddy Jones played the electric guitar. Women's soccer teammates Katie Benz (vocals) and Lauren Battung (guitar) teamed on a terrific version of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." Garnering a standing ovation and taking home the talent award for the night were women's soccer's Grace Leer (vocals), women's crew's Christy Simpson (viola) and men's crew's Cole Reiser(guitar) for their performance of Adele's "Someone Like You."
"I had a great time at the Oskis and performing for everyone was so much fun!" Leer said. "I was so grateful to be accompanied by Christy and Cole because they did an amazing job. The three of us were so happy to win best talent as we worked very hard on the song and had so much fun. The whole Oskis were so fun. Thank you to everyone who attended and all that were involved in making the Oskis such a success. I'm already looking forward to next year!"
Thanks to their NCAA Championship ways, the men's and women's swimming and diving teams racked up their fair share of awards. Freshman swimmer Will Hamiltontook home the male newcomer of the year award and the men's swimming and diving team was the male team of the year.
"We appreciate all the support from our fellow athletes," men's swimming's Nolan Koonsaid. "We had an amazing time this year, and to get to celebrate that at the Oskis, and win team of the year, it means a lot."
The talented coaches behind the swimming and diving teams shared the coach of the year honor.
"It is an absolute honor to be recognized by our student-athletes with a 2012 Oski," Durden said. "I appreciate that this coach of the year award recognizes the staff as a whole. It is a testament to the hard work of Greg Meehan, Nick Folker and Nort Thornton. To share this award with the women's swimming and diving staff is so appropriate. We have the utmost respect for the culture and environment that Teri McKeever and Kristen Cunnanecreate amongst their women, and we are fortunate to be inspired by their successes."
Women's swimming and diving won the women's team of the year Oski.
"It's so exciting that the student-athletes put together this event," McKeever said. "I'm honored to share the coach of the year award with the men's staff. It's an award for the staff and the team."
Men's basketball's senior guard Jorge Gutierrezearned the coveted male athlete of the year laurel.
"It's really an honor to be selected by my peers like this," Gutierrez said. "I think it's a good reflection of just how hard our team worked, this year, to achieve the success that we did. I really appreciate it."
On the flip side, it was women's tennis' defending national champion Jana Juricovawho won female athlete of the year.
"I am very honored to receive this award, especially when it comes from fellow student-athletes," Juricova said. "I think even though I was the one, today, all the nominees are so great and deserving. There were so many other people who deserved the award. Again, I'm very honored, but I wish I could share it with all the student-athletes who work so hard and do so well for Cal."
Women's tennis teammate Zsofi Susanyiwas named the female newcomer of the year.
"It's an honor to win this award," Susanyi said. "I feel like the team and I have been working really hard. It wouldn't have been possible without them, and I want to thank them for being there for me and helping me through all the good and bad of my first year on campus."
Additional honors that were handed out were staff member of the year (Assistant director of Student Services Mo Muqtar), most inspirational student-athlete (baseball's Tony Renda), Target team community outreach award (track & field), best team video (women's gymnastics) and best action photo (men's gymnastics Daniel Culpepper).
2012 Oskis Award Winners