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SPORTS: Athletes awarded well-deserved recognition

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SPORTS: Athletes awarded well-deserved recognition | Voices, Sports, MTSU, Blue Raiders, Lady Raiders, Murfreesboro, Basketball, Football, Volleyball, Baseball

Joe Dubin from 102.5 presents awards to basketball player LaRon Dendy and volleyball player Halie Vannoy during the MTSU awards show April 26, 2012, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of MTSU)

Last week's MTSU awards ceremony gave all of the student-athletes a chance to be honored for all of the hard work they do both on the court and in the classroom. By the way, they also had a chance to have a lot of fun and experience the “blue” carpet treatment like the big award shows.

Blue Raider athletes had a great time enjoying the spotlight, especially getting a chance to show off its personalities that most do not get to see on the field of play. For one night, these student-athletes got the star treatment that they deserve for all of the hard work to put in each season.

All of the award winners I talked to each agreed they enjoyed being in an award show like all of the ones they had seen on television like the Oscars, the Grammys, and ESPYS.

“I felt like I was a movie star,” football star Shane Blissard said.

“It was like the ESPYS,” men’s basketball player LaRon Dendy said.

“It felt like the Grammys,” football player Anthony Amos said. “I just came to have a good time, and watch people get their awards.”

“It was incredible,” golfer Brett Patterson said. “We kind of get to live in the celebrities’ world for a little bit. It was pretty cool to see all of the effort that went into it.”

“It was amazing to see everyone dressed up in nice clothing and take pictures,” women’s basketball player Ebony Rowe said. “It was really like the award’s show you see on television.”

It was a fun night for them and all Blue Raiders fans, alumni and others.

On this night, it was not about how points they scored in a game, or how it competed against a school that might have more resources than the Blue Raiders.

As usual, it did not stop them from doing things first-class like in everything they do. The evening started with all of the student-athletes and other members of the athletic program walking not the “red” carpet as with the other widely known award shows, instead the Blue Raiders walked the “Blue” carpet, which made it that more special.

The excellent College of Mass Communication and director Garry Hood who is an MTSU alumnus and has served as stage manager for nearly every major TV awards show the past 30 years, put on the television event, which included a blue carpet special.

The school brought back one of the college's recent alumna and a perfect host of the special, Nicki DeCroce, who was known for being a part of some of the funniest shows on the university channel, MT10 during her time at MTSU.

The 2010 graduate currently has a popular website, NickiDTV.com, and was more than happy to take part in the experience of interviewing all of the important MTSU people as they headed inside to the Tucker Theater.

“I felt like this was training for the Oscars or the Grammys that I hope to do in the future. This was so much fun, because the blue carper is so much better than the red carpet,” DeCroce said.

As for the show itself, it was a packed house inside the Tucker Theatre as many awards in several awards were given out in many categories. Of course, most of the awards were for great performances on the playing surface, but what made this show special was the athletes were honored for its work off the field.

Too many times, fans and others only focus on what the athletes accomplish on the field. However, there is a lot of work that goes on in the classroom by these same students. Remember they are student-athletes, not just athletes. You do go to college for an education not to play sports, which is just part of the experience. It seems like the only time people focus on the educational aspect of the athletes is when the grades are bad and the team has to suffer the consequences.

But, on this night, the hard work inside the classroom paid off with several awards was given out honoring this important part of college life. All of the Blue Raider student-athletes that had a GPA of 3.0 and higher were recognized on stage. Also, the women soccer’s team earned the “Highest GPA Team” award for its combined 3.49 GPA.

“I was pretty surprised with the award,” soccer star Allison Stallard said. “I’m really proud of our team working hard, especially during the season, when we are traveling all of the time.”

Stallard added the team’s coach Aston Rhoden makes sure the team puts class work first before its play on the pitch. That’s how it should be.

Overall, it was a wonderful and history changing night for the Blue Raider athletic program. This was a night to remember.

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