Recognizing excellence

    Student athletes come together to remember accomplished feats

    More stories from Meghan Hosely


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    On May 4, the athletic department came together as a whole to recognize the accomplishments both in the classroom and on their respective playing fields in the Ojibwe Ballroom in Davies Center. There were an estimated 400 people in the ballroom that evening.

    While the end of the year banquet isn’t anything new to the athletic department, this year was different than the banquets in years past.

    In previous years, the banquet was exclusive to graduating seniors and highlighting their feats throughout their tenure at UW-Eau Claire. This year, however, Director of Athletics Dan Schumacher said he wanted to make it more inclusive and invite every athlete.

    Schumacher said making the banquet open to all athletes creates a strong culture across the entire department.

    “(The underclassmen) work just as hard as any seniors,” Schumacher said. “I also want to create the culture of the freshmen seeing a senior receiving an award, that they aspire to get to that level.”

    Awards and scholarships were also handed out at this year’s banquet, which in previous years, was done at the hall of fame induction ceremony. Schumacher said he felt it was more special for an athlete to receive an award in front of their peers instead of at a separate banquet.

    In total, there were nine awards handed out at the banquet. The awards varied from male and female athlete of the year, senior scholar athlete and the super six award winners.

    Seniors Carly Fehler and Thurgood Dennis both were recipients of male and female athlete of the year. Fehler said while she knew she had a good chance at being nominated, she was happy to win.

    “When they did the women’s awards, I was standing and looking at the women around me and thinking, ‘This is big time. We’ve got some other really big performers,’” she said. “When I found out it was me, I was really excited because … the caliber of ladies around me was really high.”

    Fehler said it was nice to see a lot of the athletes out of their usual garb of sweatpants and t-shirts.

    Head cross country coach Dan Schwamberger said this banquet provided an opportunity for each sport to come together, which added cohesiveness throughout the entire athletic department

    “You have each sport, and throughout the season they’re focused on their sport,” Schwamberger said. “This is a cool opportunity for the whole athletics department to come together, which is pretty crazy. But it was neat seeing the other sports getting recognized.”

    While Schumacher said planning for this event started back in December and had about five people on the committee organizing it, the banquet itself is a symbol for the preparation of the next year in athletics.

    “Everyone was on the same page,” Schumacher said. “They want the best for the university, the best for their teams, and they want to have excellence. When we left … It was the starting of the conversation for what we want to accomplish next year.”