FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU Department of Athletics proudly unveiled its four finalists for the prestigious 2013 Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award on Sunday evening. The winner will be announced during the athletic department’s annual Senior Send Off and Awards Ceremony on Monday night (April 22) at the Student Union Ballroom.
The Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor FGCU bestows upon a graduating senior student-athlete and recognizes the ability of the winner to combine athletic and academic success (minimum 3.20 grade-point average) with community service. The 2013 Scholar-Athlete Award finalists include men’s soccer player Deion Jones (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS), women’s basketball player Brittany Kennedy (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS/Oregon State), diver Meagan Butler (Orangeburg, N.Y./Tappan Zee/FAU) and swimmer Eva Lehtonen (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester Adams/Florida).
The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. with an hour-long Senior Send Off program, which is coordinated by the Eagles Council, recognizing the graduating senior student-athletes. For the second time in program history, varsity letters will be bestowed upon the members of the senior class. The Athletics Awards program will immediately follow and include the presentation of the Community Service Award, Most Inspirational Award, the Carl McAloose Spirit Award, the Team Spirit Award and the Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award. The Most Outstanding Male & Female Athlete finalists will be announced that evening as well, with the eventual winners determined after the 2012-13 seasons are all complete.
Named a finalist for the men’s soccer Senior CLASS award last fall, Jones was a vital part of three consecutive A-Sun regular season crowns and back-to-back A-Sun Tournament championships to close his career. Jones is a two-time A-Sun All-Conference first team choice and in 2010 he was named an NSCAAA All-District honoree after equaling the then-FGCU single-season scoring record with 17 points. The Tampa, Fla. product finished fifth all-time in the program record books with 28 points and was also a member of the inaugural A-Sun All-Conference Academic team in 2011. A member of the ESPN Academic All-District 3 second team in 2010, Jones is currently the president of FGCU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and represents the student government on the University’s Sustainability Committee.
Kennedy, one of the 15 players from around the nation on the initial “Players Making the Buzz” watch list for the 2013 Nancy Lieberman Award (annually recognizes the top point guard in NCAA Division I women’s basketball), led the Eagles in steals (2.7) and assists (5.2) and was second on the team in rebounds (5.0). The Spokane, Wash. native, who set program single-season records in assists (173) and steals (88), led the A-Sun in steals and ranked 2nd in the league in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. Kennedy registered a steal in 28 of 33 games she played in, including recording 3+ steals on 16 occasions. The 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year continued to be a lock-down defender and draw the assignment of defending the opposition’s best player, with her best efforts coming against FIU (Nov. 14) and Va. Tech (Dec. 16). Kennedy held FIU’s Jerica Coley, a two-time Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention and two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year that ended the season as the NCAA’s leading scorer with an average of 26.3 points per game, to just nine points on 4-of-12 shooting in their matchup. She also shutdown VT’s leading scorer Monet Tellier (13.2 ppg) and held her to two points on 0-for-8 shooting from the floor.
A two-time CCSA Diver of the Meet honoree, Butler has made a huge impact during her time at FGCU. Transferring from FAU mid-way through the 2011-12 season, Butler earned CCSA Diver of the Meet honors at the Championship as well as All-Conference honors. In her senior year, the Orangeburg, N.Y. native earned the CCSA’s Most Outstading Diver of the Meet for the second consecutive year. Butler won both the 1-meter and 3-meter board and set a meet record in the 3-meter event at the 2013 CCSA Championships. She also garnered four CCSA Diver of the Week awards as well as being named to the All Academic team.
A four-time record holder in four different relay events (200 free, 400 free, 200 medley, 400 medley) and member of the 2013 CCSA All-Academic team, Lehtonen has accomplished a lot in her two years in the Green and Blue. She earned CCSA Swimmer of the Week honors this season as well as being named to the 2012 CCSA All-Conference team. The Rochester Hill, Mich. product has also competed internationally, most recently finishing 33rd in the 800-meter free and 35th in the 400-meter free at the 2008 Olympic Games and holding five Finnish records.