Auburn athletes named 2011 McWhorter Scholar-Athletes of the Year

BIRMINGHAM, AL. – Auburn University's Dan Mazzaferro and Erica Meissner, members of the Tigers' men's and women's swimming and diving teams, have been named the 2010-11 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athletes of the Year, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Wednesday.  The awards will be formally presented to the two student-athletes at the annual Awards Banquet at the league's spring meeting in Destin, Fla., on June 2.

The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities and both will receive a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by AT&T, an SEC Corporate Champion sponsor, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

"The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive in the Southeastern Conference," said Slive.  "The commitment and dedication that Dan and Erica embody make them excellent selections for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award.  They are outstanding representatives of Auburn University and the Southeastern Conference."

It marks the first time ever for a university to sweep the McWorter Awards and the second year in a row for a Tiger to earn one as Auburn's Jordan Anderson received the honor last season. Mazzaferro and Meissner are the fourth and fifth Auburn student-athletes to receive the honor, joining Anderson (2010), Kristen Hastrup (2008), Caesar Garcia (2004) and Jenifer Kleyn (1992).

Mazzaferro, a native of Cheshire, Conn., earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry in May 2010 and will earn his M.B.A. degree in December 2011.  He is a Phi Kappa Phi National Graduate Fellowship and President's Medal for College of Science and Mathematics recipient.

An Auburn University Honors Scholar, he is also a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor Society, Delta Epsilon Iota and National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

In the recently-concluded season, he served as captain of Auburn's swimming and diving team.  He was the 2011 SEC champion in the 3-meter and platform diving events, a nine-time NCAA All-American and a U.S. Olympic diving finalist.  Dan also won the 2011 SEC Commissioner's Cup as the highest scorer at the SEC Championships and was the 2011 SEC Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Mazzaferro was also a member of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-American Team (2007-09).    He participated in Unite for Sight, a 10-day mission to Ghana, assisting with ophthalmic surgeries and raising funds for eyeglasses for patients in Ghana.

The two-time SEC Diver of the Year is the son of Thomas and Cynthia Mazzaferro.

Meissner, a native of Ashburnham, Mass., will earn a B.A. degree in Anthropology this summer.  She is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Chi Alpha Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Fraternities.  She is a member of Auburn's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist.

She earned NCAA All-American honors in 2008 and is a two-time College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-American as well as a six-time Auburn Top Tiger, awarded to Auburn's top student-athletes.  She has her team's second best time this season in the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.

Meissner has volunteered at Lee County's Big House, mentoring foster children, and the Lee County Humane Society.  She has also participated in Laps for Cystic Fibrosis and Swim Across America.

She is the daughter of Walt and Rosemarie Meissner.

The McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is being released to coincide with National Student-Athlete Day, which was created in 1987 by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and presented by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

"Done right, sports can be a powerful tool to help communities and society. Perhaps sports' greatest ambassadors are our student-athletes," said Richard Lapchick, Director of the NCAS and Chair of DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida.  "National Student-Athlete Day honors those young men and women. Having honored over 2.6 million student-athletes since 1997, that is a true testament to the leadership that sport has brought to young people."

National Student-Athlete Day is held each April 6 to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. It is also a time to recognize those parents, teachers, coaches and school systems which make it possible for young people to find the balance between academics and athletics.

The 11 other male recipients are:  Greg McElroy, Football, Alabama; Luke Laird, Track & Field, Arkansas; Michael Yuan, Swimming & Diving, Florida; Mark Dylla, Swimming & Diving, Georgia; Josh Nadzam, Track & Field, Kentucky; Sebastian Carlsson, Tennis, LSU; Lee Moore, Track & Field, Ole Miss; Derek Sherrod, Football, Mississippi State; Jimmy Maurer, Soccer, South Carolina; John-Patrick Smith, Tennis, Tennessee; John Stokes, Football, Vanderbilt.

The 11 other female recipients are:  Kayla Huffman, Gymnastics, Alabama; Michelle Stout, Gymnastics, Arkansas; Ali Crabb, Track & Field, Florida; Chelsea Nauta, Swimming & Diving, Georgia; Lauren Rapp, Volleyball, Kentucky; Jane Trepp, Swimming & Diving, LSU; Emily Kvitle, Volleyball, Ole Miss; Leanna Baldner, Soccer, Mississippi State; Mollie Patton, Soccer, South Carolina; Nikki Fowler, Volleyball, Tennessee; Molly Kinsella, Soccer, Vanderbilt.

The SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards were first presented in 1986.  They were renamed the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards in May 1990 to honor the former commissioner who served the conference from 1972-86.

Past recipients include:  2010 – Jordan Anderson, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Phoebe Wright, Tennessee (track & field); 2009 – Bram ten Berge, Ole Miss (golf) and Christine Magnuson, Tennessee (swimming & diving); 2008 – Joseph Sykora, Alabama (golf) and Kristen Hastrup, Auburn (swimming & diving);  2007 – Emeel Salem, Alabama (baseball) and Erika Schneble, Vanderbilt (track & field); 2006 – Rudy Niswanger, LSU (football) and Sarah Lowe, Florida (basketball); 2005 – Rob Robertson, Ole Miss (football) and Lauryn McCalley, Tennessee (diving); 2004 – Caesar Garcia, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Lauren Imwalle, Alabama (soccer); 2003 - Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball) and Kristin Sterner, Alabama (gymnastics); 2002 - Trey Dyson, South Carolina (baseball) and Tiffany Woolley, Arkansas (softball); 2001 - Scott Westerfield, Mississippi State (football) and Kim Black, Georgia (swimming); 2000 - Joey Pitts, Georgia (tennis) and Lisette Lee, LSU (golf); 1999 - Jeff Zurcher, Kentucky (football) and Jessica Field, Arkansas (volleyball); 1998 - Jeremy Jackson, Mississippi State (baseball) and Shani Abshier, South Carolina (volleyball); 1997 - Andrew DeVooght, Georgia (swimming) and Meredith Willard, Alabama (gymnastics); 1996 - Martin Nyberg, LSU (swimming) and Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt (basketball); 1995 - Michael Blanchard, LSU (football) and April Ecke, Mississippi State (cross country); 1994 - Peter Duitsman, South Carolina (soccer) and Tammy Newlon, Mississippi State (basketball); 1993 - Lang Wiseman, Tennessee (basketball) and Aimee York, Mississippi State (volleyball); 1992 - Jeff Laubenthal, Alabama (baseball) and Jenifer Kleyn, Auburn (volleyball); 1991 - Al Parker, Georgia (tennis) and Patty Wiegand, Tennessee (track and cross country); 1990 - Burke Masters, Mississippi State (baseball) and Janice Kerr, Florida (gymnastics); 1989 - Mikael Olander, LSU (track) and Deanne Burnett, Georgia (swimming); 1988 - Danny Hoskins, Ole Miss (football) and Linda Leith, Georgia (swimming); 1987 - Jeff Noblin, Ole Miss (football) and Julie Estin, Alabama (gymnastics); 1986 - John Young, Tennessee (track) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming).

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn University Athletics