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Rebels’ Choice Awards Set for March 23

All-American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks talks with fans before going into the Ford Center to accept his Most Valuable Rebel Award.
All-American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks talks with fans before going into the Ford Center to accept his Most Valuable Rebel Award.

Ole Miss will be honoring the athletic achievements of Ole Miss student-athletes over the past year at the fifth annual Rebels’ Choice Awards on Monday, March 23 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts. The semi-formal event is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) and will feature ESPN’s Holly Rowe as the mistress of ceremonies.

Rowe, who has been working at ESPN since 1998, primarily covers college football, men’s basketball and softball as a reporter, as well as the NBA and WNBA. She has also provided play-by-play commentary for women’s college basketball, softball and volleyball. In addition, Rowe has covered soccer, swimming, track & field and the Little League World Series of baseball and softball for ESPN. Rowe has also provided play-by-play for women’s college basketball and women’s college volleyball for ESPN since 1998 and Fox Sports from 1993-2003.

The Rebels’ Choice Awards include 19 awards in which members of Ole Miss senior administration and Ole Miss student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC) select the winners. This year’s nominees, as well as past winners, can be viewed on the Rebels’ Choice awards website. There are three additional awards, which are determined by fan vote. Fans can help crown the winner of the Play of the Year, Game of the Year and Fan Favorite Rebel. Voting is open and concludes on Friday, March 20.

The Rebels’ Choice awards are a community event and will feature a red carpet for Ole Miss student-athletes and athletic staff beginning at 6:15 p.m. Members of the community are invited to attend the red carpet and meet their favorite Ole Miss student-athletes prior to the start of the awards show at 7 p.m.

“The Rebels’ Choice Awards allows Ole Miss athletics to showcase the best and brightest,” said Ole Miss athletic director, Ross Bjork. “In my mind, this confirms our purpose of giving our students a platform to develop to their fullest potential through college athletics. We are often criticized for mixing athletics and education, but anyone who watches the Rebels’ Choice Awards will quickly realize that there can be a perfect blend of higher education and athletics. This show is a very powerful display of the true meaning of what intercollegiate athletics are all about. Congratulations to all of the nominees and we are grateful that Holly Rowe from ESPN has agreed to host our event. I can’t wait to see who wins awards on March 23.”

Awards include men’s and women’s sports winners in the following categories: Most Valuable Rebel, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year, HottyToddy Award, Community Outreach Award and the Bennie Abram Award, given in memory of former Ole Miss football walk-on Bennie Abram who passed away, is given to a walk-on student-athlete who exemplifies the spirit of Bennie Abram.

Honors are based on performances from the calendar year. The sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and rifle will be judged on the 2014-14 campaign, while baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track & field looks at 2013-14.

Assistant athletic director of student-athlete development, Jennifer Saxon is spearheading this event and acknowledges that this is an event that everyone looks forward to.

“The Rebels’ Choice Awards is an event on our calendar that everyone looks forward to,” said Saxon. “This event gives us a chance to celebrate our successes as well as our student-athletes and their achievements. We are looking forward to sharing this event with our fans and the greater Oxford and Lafayette communities for many years to come.”

The Ole Miss athletic department is experiencing a renaissance and the past 12 months have been very exciting times in Oxford. The Ole Miss baseball team won the SEC West and reached the College World Series for the fifth time in program history and the first since 1972, while Nik Scholtz from the Ole Miss tennis team was named SEC Player of the Year. Additionally, the basketball programs are both on the rise. The women’s team posted its best season since 2009-10 and the men’s team is seeking its second NCAA Tournament bid in the last three years. The football team raised the bar during the 2014 season, reaching as high as No.4 in inaugural College Football Playoff rankings and reaching a bowl game for the third straight year, playing in the Peach Bowl –one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.

Current Ole Miss SAAC president and Ole Miss baseball player Brady Bramlett believes the Rebels’ Choice awards are a great opportunity to showcase being a student-athlete.

“Rebels Choice Awards is a great opportunity to celebrate the significance of being a student-athlete, especially at Ole Miss,” said Bramlett.  “We are fortunate to have leaders like Ross (Bjork), Derek (Cowherd), and Jennifer (Saxon) who’s thoughts are always centered around student-athlete well being.”

Ole Miss student athletes aren’t the only ones who look forward to the annual Rebels’ Choice Awards. Ole Miss coaches enjoy the event as well, as it gives them a chance to recognize achievements from throughout the athletic department.

Ole Miss volleyball coach, Steven McRoberts thinks the event is a great way to honor our student-athletes in front of their peers.

“This event is a great way to honor our student-athletes in front of their peers,” said McRoberts  “We get to showcase their accomplishments on the fields and courts, but I also enjoy that we highlight how our student-athletes are involved in community service and are successful in the classroom.”

The Rebels’ Choice Awards is built into the celebration of National Student-Athlete Day, which is celebrated every year in April.  Established in 1987, National Student-Athlete Day is America’s day to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. The day was established by the National Consortium for Academics & Sports and Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society and is co-sponsored by the NCAA.

The event is free to the public, but a ticket is required. Tickets will be available starting March 16th at the UM Box Office and the Ford Center Box Office. Tickets can also be picked up at the Ford Center Box Office will call beginning one hour before the show.

Ole Miss Student-Athlete Development Mission The mission of Ole Miss’ Student-Athlete Development program is to challenge student-athletes to be lifelong learners while pursuing continuous improvement academically, relationally, socially, personally, and professionally during and beyond their careers as student-athletes.

Student-Athlete Development is the hub for a wide range of Ole Miss athletics sponsored programs designed to meet the needs of student-athletes and their families. It is divided into six areas: Student-Athlete Assistance Services, Career Development, Continuing Education, Community Outreach, Financial Education and Career Transition.

Visit Student-Athlete Development for more information on Ole Miss’ Student-Athlete Development program.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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