Pepperdine Hosts Student-Athlete Honors Dinner
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Hundreds of Pepperdine student-athletes, coaches and staff members filled the main ballroom of the Warner Center Marriott on Wednesday night to celebrate the First Annual Student-Athlete Honors Dinner.
Awards were handed out for Wave of the Year (which promotes spirit and service to the community), Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Year.
Several coaches – Nina Matthies of women’s volleyball, Laurie Gibbs of women’s golf, Adam Steinberg of men’s tennis and Steve Rodriguez of baseball – introduced award-winners and gave motivating talks to the student-athletes in attendance.
Senior cross country/track runner Josh Stutzman (Newberg, Ore./Newberg HS) delivered the invocation and senior golfer Stephanie Gelleni (Caracas, Venezuela) gave a speech about her life as a student-athlete.
The winners of the various awards were as follows:
WAVE OF THE YEAR (Men’s) – J.D. Schleppenbach
J.D. Schleppenbach (Ventura, Calif./Ventura HS) is a member of the men’s volleyball team that is currently ranked #5 in the nation. J.D. is greatly involved in the athletics community, as he is a SAAC representative, a leader of the Athletics Convocation and both a finalist and a coordinator of the Mr. All-American ceremony. On the court, he is a two-year starter and has averaged nearly three kills per game this season. Head Coach Marv Dunphy has called him the toughest player he has ever coached at Pepperdine. J.D. is a junior and an international business major.
WAVE OF THE YEAR (Women’s) – Emily Wynne
Emily Wynne (El Cajon, Calif./University HS) has been a key part of the women’s soccer program the past three seasons. She earned all-conference, all-region and all-academic honors her sophomore year and already ranks 10th in team history in career assists. Even more important is what Emily has done away from her sport, as she has made mission trips to Africa, Mexico and Louisiana. She has been a youth mentor and coach, a spiritual leader and a volunteer. Emily is a junior and a sports medicine major.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Men’s) – Jonathan Winder
Few people at Pepperdine have excelled in their sport as Jonathan Winder (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge HS) has for the men’s volleyball team, and Jonathan has matched his on-court efforts with his performance in the classroom. This senior will graduate in four years with a degree in advertising. He will be a three-time MPSF all-academic honoree and boasts a 3.35 grade-point average. Jonathan was the national player of the year in 2007 and was the starting setter on the 2005 national championship team as a freshman. He should end up as a four-time All-American. He has also been a strong member of the community, working as a SAAC representative, in the Peer Mentor Group and the Up Till Dawn project.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Women’s) – Julie Rubenstein
One student-athlete who has found perfect balance between being both a student and athlete is Julie Rubenstein. This junior liberal arts major is a two-time WCC All-Academic selection and made the ESPN Academic All-District third team in 2007. She carries a 3.53 grade-point average. Julie became the first person from Pepperdine to earn a spot on the SAAC’s national board, and she serves as the co-president of Pepperdine’s SAAC. She was the co-chair of the Mr. All-American competition. On the court, Julie is a three-time All-WCC honoree.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Men’s) – Andre Begemann
Andre Begemann (Blomberg, Germany) of the men’s tennis team is currently ranked sixth in the nation in singles, so you know he’s having quite a year. The senior business administration major has already been named the WCC Player of the Month twice and is likely to earn All-American honors for the third straight year. He’s also ranked 18th in the nation in doubles with teammate Omar Altmann. Some of his career highlights include reaching the 2006 NCAA doubles final with Scott Doerner and winning the NCAA championship-clinching match in 2006.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Women’s) – Sylvia Kosakowski
Sylvia Kosakowski (Downey, Calif./Warren HS) is currently ranked #77 in the nation in singles and holds the responsibility of playing in the No. 1 singles position for the #26-ranked women’s tennis team. Earlier this season, Kosakowski and teammate Bianca Dulgheru were named the WCC doubles team of the month for February, and the duo is currently ranked #10 in the nation and sports a 17-2 record this spring. Kosakowski’s career highlights include being named an All-American last year in doubles with Dulgheru, and she is a two-time All-WCC first-team selection in singles and doubles.