The University of North Carolina athletics program did something special this year, something they have never done in the past, something that could be the start of history. No they didn’t win any championships, land any huge recruit in any sport or do anything at all on the field. What they did was introduce the Rammy Awards which combined the awards formerly announced at the All-Sports Banquet and added new honorees in a wide scale of categories.
Winners of each award were called up the stage in a awards-show-style program. Complete with students running the show, live music from Benton Moss of the Diamond Heels. What it provided in the short term was a fun night to recognize UNC Tar Heels athletics, gave the kids a fun night and added to the memory of being a Tar Heel.
That’s how traditions start. In today’s world we’re used to celebrating the traditions of our elders inadvertently ignoring the possibility of continuing to grow new ones. This was the type of event I could see sticking in Chapel Hill for a long, long time. Here’s a list of the winners of the inaugural event.
Mildred McCaskill Award
The award recognizes senior student-athletes, one male and one female, who demonstrate excellence in athletics, scholarship and service to the community.
Winners were Chris Munnelly (baseball) and Katie Nolan (swimming)
John Lotz Award
The award recognizes a student-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit of the late John Lotz, who served as UNC’s Assistant Athletic Director of Campus and Community Relations and also was an assistant basketball coach for the Tar Heels. Winners have succeeded under adverse circumstances, overcoming difficulties while maintaining a positive attitude.
Recipients were Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (women’s basketball), Gina Suarez-Malaguti (women’s tennis) and Sylvester Williams (football)
ACC Senior Scholar Award
The award goes to one male and one female student-athlete from each ACC school who demonstrate the highest excellence in academics and athletics.
Recipients were Pete Mangum (football) and Jackie Rudolph (swimming)
ACC Top Six for Service Awards
The awards are presented to six student-athletes or teams at each ACC school who demonstrate dedication and commitment to community service and outreach programs.
Recipients were Zoe Skinner (women’s lacrosse), Breada Farrell (women’s lacrosse) and Tristine Johnson (women’s track and field), as well as three teams: men’s lacrosse, rowing and gymnastics.
Male Athlete of the Year: Jonathan Cooper, football
Female Athlete of the Year: Crystal Dunn, women’s soccer
Outstanding Newcomer: Male – Skye Bolt, baseball; Female – Hanna Gardner, soccer, and Whitney Kay, tennis
Outstanding Championship Performance: Kealia Ohai, women’s soccer
Breakthrough Athlete: Male – P.J. Hairston, basketball; Female – Gina Suarez-Malaguti
Best Upset: Women’s Tennis, which won the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February
Most Outstanding Team: Women’s Soccer, the 2012 NCAA Champion
Best Play: Giovani Bernard, football, for his 74-yard punt return vs. NC State
Record-Breaking Performance: Scott Goodwin, men’s soccer