RCW: Dancing through another Rock Chalk Choice Awards

Conference champions, national statistical leaders, All-Americans, Olympians and future pros were among the 13 Kansas student-athletes – eight women and five men – vying for recognition as this year’s Female and Male Athletes of the Year at the Rock Chalk Choice Awards inside the Lied Center of Kansas on Sept. 11. A total of seven major awards were presented at the event themed “So You Know You Can Dance” based on another banner year for Kansas Athletics in 2015-16 that saw many teams and individuals advance to NCAA postseason play. 

Jayhawker Award
The Jayhawker Award is presented in honor of the pioneers who held true to their values through devastation and hardship while founding the state of Kansas. The nominees of this award must exhibit commitment to Kansas principles and demonstrate mental toughness in the face of adversity and competition while making a positive contribution to Kansas Athletics.

2016 Nominees
Award Winner Devonte’ Graham (basketball)
Hannah Kallmaier (soccer)
Harli Ridling (softball)
Fish Smithson (football)
Cassie Wait (volleyball)

Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role
The Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role Award is presented to a student-athlete who demonstrates extraordinary sportsmanship, support and loyalty to teammates and Kansas Athletics.

2016 Nominees
Maggie Anderson (volleyball)
Malika Baker (track & field and cross country)
Lauren Breshears (soccer)
Award Winner Haley Molden (swimming & diving)
Joe Moroney (baseball) 

Crimson Climb
The Crimson Climb Award is presented to a student-athlete who has overcome academic challenges and has made consistent academic progress.

2016 Nominees
Greg Allen (football)
Briana Evans (softball)
Angie Flores (rowing)
Adriana Newell (track & field)
Award Winner Fish Smithson (football) 

True Blue Award
The True Blue Award is given to a student-athlete who demonstrates devotion to excellence in academics and athletics while advancing Kansas Athletics through participation in various student organizations and community service projects.

2016 Nominees
Chase Hanna (golf)
Drew Matthews (track & field)
Maddie Irelan (rowing)
Sammie Schurig (swimming & diving)
Award Winner Tayler Soucie (volleyball)

Rock Chalk Moment of the Year
The Rock Chalk Moment Award is presented to the team or individual with the most significant moment from the previous season as voted on live by the audience during the show.

2016 Nominees
Award Winner – Volleyball win over USC to advance to Final Four: Down 13-9 in the last set, the Jayhawks finished the match on a 6-0 run to recover and complete the upset of the No. 1 team in the nation, the USC Trojans. The win secured the Jayhawks their first trip to the NCAA Final Four.
– Men’s basketball triple-OT win against Oklahoma: After three overtimes, multiple chances to win in the final seconds for both teams and a two-hour-and-53-minute span, the Jayhawks edged out Oklahoma 109-106 in one of the best games of the 2015-16 college basketball season. Kansas had three players score over 20 points while Oklahoma was led by Buddy Hield’s 46 points.
– Tennis win over Texas: It took a four-and-a-half-hour match to erase 27 years of bad memories, but Kansas finally captured its first-ever win over the Longhorns. The win moved the Jayhawks to 12-2 on the season, their best mark to open a season since 1998.
– Women’s cross country regionals: Kansas finished fifth at the NCAA Midwest regional, led by then-freshman Sharon Lodeki’s third-place finish. The finish not only led her team for the fourth time on the year, but it also earned her an individual automatic bid to the NCAA National Championships, where she placed 10th, the highest finish by a KU women’s runner at the national meet.

Male and Female Athlete of the Year
Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards are given to one male and female student-athlete who achieved at the highest level during their most recent season.

2016 Male Nominees
Mitch Cooper (track & field)
Award Winner Perry Ellis (basketball)
Ben Krauth (baseball)
Connor Peck (golf)
Fish Smithson (football)

2016 Female Nominees
Chaley Brickey (softball)
Maggie Duncan (rowing)
Yupaporn “Mook” Kawinpakorn (golf)
Award Winner Daina Levy (track & field)
Chelsie Miller (swimming & diving)
Kelsey Payne (volleyball)
Anastasia Rychagova (tennis)
Liana Salazar (soccer)

KU Leads, the Kansas Jayhawks’ student-athlete development unit,  focuses on leadership training, community engagement, traditions and professional development to enhance the student-athlete experience. Within KU Leads, the Kansas K Club – the department’s letterwinners association – has the mission is to help preserve the history and traditions of Kansas Athletics, support current student-athletes, and connect former participants, coaches, student athletic trainers and managers of varsity sports at the University of Kansas.