Softball Bears Take Top Honor at MSU All-Sports Showcase

by Missouri State Athletics

The Missouri State University softball team took home the night’s top honor at the tenth annual Bears All-Sports Showcase, Monday (May 6) night at JQH Arena.

Coach Holly Hesse’s softball squad was the top point collector in the Bear Cup team competition for community service, academic excellence, athletic excellence, Bears supporting Bears and public affairs. Women’s tennis finished second in the Bear Cup standings, while track and field was third. The 2019 award continues a streak of 10 consecutive years of the honor going to a women’s program. It also marks the second time softball (2015) has taken possession of the Bear Cup.

A number of individual student-athletes were also recognized for their excellence as part of the year-end celebration of Bears Athletics.

Members of MSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) served as the presenters for the evening, which included a red-carpet entry and awards similar to ESPN’s Espy Awards. SAAC members also took the lead in the nomination, selection and voting processes for the event and the awards presented.

The event included a tribute to more than 2,000 hours of volunteer and community service efforts by MSU’s student-athletes during the 2018-19 year. The total economic impact of MSU’s student-athlete volunteer efforts is over $50,000 annually to the Springfield community.

All-MVC swimmer Loretta Stelnicki (Inverness, Ill.) was awarded the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Female Student-Athlete of the Year Award, while fellow swimmer and NCAA qualifier Artur Osvath (Budapest, Hungary) was selected as the recipient of the Bill Rowe Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Osvath, who also won MSU Male Freshman of the Year in 2016 and Sophomore of the Year in 2017, is the third male swimmer in four years to earn the Rowe Award. Stelnicki becomes the second female swimmer in three years to win the Wynn Award.

The Senior Student-Athletes of the Year were presented to men’s swimming standout and fellow NCAA qualifier Blair Bish (Little Rock, Ark.) and All-MVC basketball performer Danielle Gitzen (Victoria, Minn.). This year’s Junior Student-Athlete of the Year awards went to soccer standout Kyle Hiebert (La Salle, Manitoba) and Alexa Willard (Lebanon, Mo.), most valuable player of the 2019 MVC Women’s Basketball Tournament. Bish was named male junior of the year last year.

The 2019 Sophomore Student-Athlete of the Year awards went to All-MVC soccer forward Josh Dolling (Liverpool, England) and All-Valley tennis performer Ellie Burger (Chesterfield, Mo.). Freshman Student-Athlete of the Year honors went to swimmer Pawel Krawczyk (Warsaw, Poland) and MVC individual golf champion Abby Cavaiani (Wales, Wis.). Dolling also earned Male Freshman of the Year distinction in 2018.

A new award, the Heart of the Bear Award, was bestowed on a pair of inspirational, hard-working athletes for their determination this year. The award was created to honor those distinct individuals who have shown leadership, commitment, and grit. The inaugural recipients of the Heart of the Bear Award were Samuel Senn (Springfield, Mo.) of men’s swimming and diving, and Alye Darter (Rogers, Ark.) of women’s tennis.

The individual sport most valuable players were also named, as voted on by head coaches. The men’s team MVPs were awarded to: Drew Milas (baseball, Swansea, Ill.), Jarred Dixon (basketball, Kansas City, Mo.), McNeece Egbim (football, Rowlett, Texas), Brad Carpenter (golf, Washington, Mo.), Dolling (soccer, Liverpool, England) and Osvath (swimming and diving, Budapest, Hungary). It was the third consecutive MVP honor for Osvath for men’s swimming.

Women’s team MVPs were awarded to: Danielle Gitzen (basketball, Victoria, Minn.), Sydney LeMay (beach volleyball, Shelbyville, Mich.), Grace Breiten (cross country, Chesterfield, Mo.), Rachel Johnson (golf, Anderson, Ind.), Kaitlin Maxwell (soccer, Lincoln, Neb.), Steffany Dickerson (softball, Oklahoma City, Okla.), Libby Howell (swimming and diving, Bixby, Okla.), Ellie Burger (tennis, Chesterfield, Mo.), Jamilah James (track and field, Scarborough, Ontario), and Emily Butters (volleyball, Richmond, Texas). It was the second straight team MVP honor for James in track.

The 2018-19 MVC State Farm Good Neighbor Award recipients were also recognized at the event. They were Maxwell (women’s soccer), Stelnicki (women’s swimming) and Mikaela Mosquera (beach volleyball, West Chicago, Ill.).

The inaugural Maroon and White Scholar-Athletes of the Year were presented to golfer Ashley Childress (Mt. Vernon, Mo.) and men’s soccer performer Kyle Hiebert (La Salle, Manitoba).

The Missouri State women’s tennis team claimed the Academic Excellence Award, while cross country and track earned the Community Outreach Award. Additional team awards went to women’s basketball (Athletic Excellence Award), women’s soccer (Bears Supporting Bears Award), and football (Public Affairs Award).

The inaugural Coach of the Year honor went to men’s basketball coach Dana Ford, while A’dja Jones from the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Academic Achievement Center was presented with the Athletics Staffer of the Year distinction.

Volleyball standout Ashley Ophoven (Ozark, Mo.) and baseball pitcher Davis Schwab (Leawood, Kan.) gave this year’s senior speeches.

Approximately 300 boosters, fans, athletes and staff members attended the event at JQH Arena.