June 29, 2009
The Garnet and Gold paved “Rhodes” full of bronze during the 2008-09 school year, giving Seminole fans plenty to cheer about. Florida State set the tone for yet another successful athletic year when 12 current and former Seminole student-athletes and coaches represented Florida State in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, with track and field standout Walter Dix bringing home two Bronze medals. In the classroom, football’s Myron Rolle shined when in November, he became the second Seminole student-athlete in the last four years to be named a Rhodes Scholar.
“We are blessed with a great staff, quality student-athletes and the best coaches in the nation and that is evident by all of the honors and successes we’ve celebrated over the past year,” Florida State Athletics Director Randy Spetman said.
With 18 of its 19 sports advancing to the postseason, Florida State maintained athletic excellence as reflected by its No. 15 ranking in the United State Sports Academy Directors’ Cup standings. This marked the third-straight year the Garnet and Gold placed in 15th position in the nation. Florida State ranked third in the standings among ACC schools with North Carolina and Virginia finishing second and eighth, respectively.
From football’s kick-off to the last crack of the FSU baseball bat, Seminole fans saw a plethora of Seminole student-athletes achieve a multitude of awards on and off the field. Florida State enjoyed five ACC championships — including the first in program history for women’s indoor track and field — as well as11 NCAA individual national champions, 36 ACC individual championships, 90 All-America selections, 79 All-ACC honors and 17 end-of-the-year ACC awards.
The women’s soccer team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-consecutive year while the women’s outdoor track and field team had its best finish since 1985 when they placed fourth at NCAAs.
Florida State started the 2008-09 year in Beijing where 10 track and field athletes, a softball player and a soccer coach represented their respective countries. Representing the United States, Walter Dix brought home a Bronze Medal in the 100m (9.91) and the 200m (22.20). Also in the 200m, Brian Dzingai took home fourth place representing his country of Zimbabwe. Softball player Yuruby Alicart scored two runs for Venezuela and Paul Rogers served as Canada’s goalkeeper assistant coach. Ngoni Makusha also placed fourth in the long jump for Zimbabwe.
Makusha was one of seven student-athletes to win a total of 11 individual national championships for the Seminoles — all in track and field. While Makusha won the outdoor long jump, Kim Williams took home an unprecedented three national championships in the indoor and outdoor triple jump and the outdoor long jump.
Kim Williams had one of the best seasons in women’s track and field history, taking home not only the three individual NCAA championships but the ACC Outdoor Field Performer of the Year, the USTFCCA Women’s National Field Performer of the Year and the Outdoor South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year awards as well. Men’s tennis’ Jean-Yves Aubone became the first player to earn All-American honors twice in his playing career while also earning the highest honor in the conference as ACC Player of the Year. Women’s golfer Caroline Westrup became the first four-time Golf All-American in Florida State history. Graham Gano took home the top kicker award on the football field by winning the Lou Groza Award. Seminole softball star Sarah Hamilton took home the ACC Pitcher of the Year award after posting a 20-7 record.
On the other diamond, Sean Gilmartin was the NCBWA Freshman Pitcher of the Year for the FSU baseball team. Other freshmen at Florida State also excelled as Brooks Koepka (men’s golf) and Tiffany McCarty (women’s soccer) were named ACC Freshmen of the Year and Maurice Mitchell earned the Co-ACC Men’s Track Freshman of the Year award. In total, 13 All-American Freshmen Team honors were awarded to the Seminoles.
Five Florida State coaches were awarded seven ACC Coach of the Year honors, the most in program history. Bob Braman was awarded three as the Men’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year and the Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year. Sue Semrau and Leonard Hamilton were both named ACC Coach of the Year, marking only the third time in conference history (also at Duke in 1999 and at North Carolina in 2006) that the men’s and women’s basketball coaches of the year came from the same school. Mike Martin earned his sixth baseball Coach of the Year plaque after leading his team to its 47th NCAA appearance. Karen Harvey earned ACC Women’s Cross Country honors for the second straight season.
Not only were FSU’s coaches recognized in the conference, but nationally as well. Hamilton took home the Basketball Times National Coach of the Year honor and Oliver Foreman was named women’s tennis ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year. Swimming head coach Neil Harper and Semrau posted their 200th wins at Florida State while men’s tennis coach Dwayne Hultquist became the all-time win leader at Florida State.
Not only did the Seminoles accomplish many individual awards, but they soared to new heights in team competition as well. Under the direction of first-year coach Chris Poole, the women’s volleyball team went from 16-14 to 21-9 in one season. The men’s indoor track and field team took home it’s eighth indoor and seventh outdoor ACC championship and the women’s cross country team took home is second-consecutive championship. Women’s basketball had its highest ACC finish, tying for first place in the regular season and earned the program’s highest NCAA Tournament seed as a No. 3. Soccer, softball and men’s swimming all finished second in the ACC and the men’s basketball team played in its first ACC championship game. Leading the men’s basketball team was Toney Douglas who was the ACC Men’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year and Rivals.com ACC Player of the Year for 2008-09.
Baseball and men’s tennis hosted NCAA postseason events while women’s basketball and men’s cross country went to participate in the NCAA postseason for the fifth-consecutive season. First year head coach Lonni Alameda has the softball team rolling as the Seminoles enjoyed national rankings throughout the year and hosted an NCAA regional for the first time since 2004. The men’s basketball team went dancing for the first time since 1998 and the football team went to its 38th bowl game in school history where the Seminoles defeated Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. Men’s and women’s swimming and diving went to its 29th and 26th NCAA championships, respectively.
Football’s Everette Brown was the Carolina Panthers first pick in the NFL Draft while Douglas was a first round pick in the NBA Draft and is headed to New York to play for the Knicks. Both Brown and Douglas have also earned their college degrees.
Florida State University student-athletes achieved great success in obtaining recognition for academic excellence and that was no different in 2008-09. In November of last year, football’s Rolle became the second Seminole student-athlete in the past four years to earn the Rhodes Scholarship – one of the oldest and most prestigious awards for international study. It was the first time in nearly 25 years that the Rhodes Scholarship with awarded to a prominent college football player. Rolle is the fourth Florida State student ever to be named a Rhodes Scholar. He follows in the footsteps of former Student Body President Joe O’Shea (2008), student-athlete (track and field) Garrett Johnson (2006) and Caroline Alexander (1976). The scholarships provide all expenses for up to two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
During the 2008-09 academic year, five Seminoles earned CoSIDA Academic All-American honors, including track’s Javier Garcia-Tunon (first team), Susan Kuijken (first team) and Gonzalo Barriolhet (second team), football’s Rolle (second team) and softball’s Carly Wynn (third team). Fifteen Seminole student-athletes were also named District Academic All-Americans, including Rolle (football), Becky Edwards, Marissa Kazbour, Katrin Schmidt, Lauren Switzer, Sanna Talonen (soccer), Michelle Snyder, Carly Wynn (softball), Brianna Barry and Taylor Wilson (volleyball), Mara Freshour (women’s basketball) and Gonzalo Barroilhet, Garcia-Tunon, Kuijken and Lydia Willemse (track & cross country).
At the conclusion of the 2008-09 school year, 175 Seminole student-athletes were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll while seven of Florida State’s athletic teams had a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average. In the spring 2009 semester, 202 Seminoles achieved a 3.0 GPA or better, 10 athletic teams had a 3.0 or better GPA and the average team semester GPA was a 2.8. Ten student-athletes made the spring 2009 President’s List with a perfect 4.0 GPA while 62 student-athletes earned Dean’s List status with a GPA of 3.5 or better.
Track and field’s Keyla Smith and Matt Wernke and Ania Rynarzewska of the women’s tennis team were among 42 Atlantic Coast Conference scholar-athletes named 2009 ACC Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarship Award recipients. Rynarzewska was also the female recipient of the first ever Jim McKay Scholarship, which will be presented annually to one male and one female student-athlete who have excelled academically and plan to pursue postgraduate studies in the communications industry.