The 2019-20 RUBY’S: Virtual Edition was held on Monday throughout social media outlets. The annual event honors Radford’s student-athletes for their achievements in the classroom, in competition and in the community.
The 2019-20 season was full of success for the Highlanders despite being cut short during the spring season by the COVID-19 pandemic. The women’s soccer team captured its second straight conference tournament championship, which led them to their second straight appearance in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. The men’s basketball program won a share of the regular season title for the second straight year while women’s basketball clinched a two–seed and was set to host their side of the bracket in the Big South Championships. Baseball, softball, men’s tennis and women’s tennis all had winning records heading into the second halves of their seasons as well.
Jacob Wilkinson (men’s soccer) was named this year’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Wilkinson carries a perfect 4.0 GPA as a double major in accounting and finance. The Frederick, Md., native is the treasurer and three-year member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a peer tutor in the athletic department’s Learning Enhancement Center. In addition, he interned in the business office of the athletics department during the fall semester. He is an active member of Beta Gamma Sigma, which is the business honors society and the Institute of Managerial Accounts. He works closely with the Student Managed Investment Portfolio Organization (SMIPO). In the fall, he earned academic All-American honors
Hunter Mundy (softball) was named this year’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The Creedmoor, N.C., native carries a 3.93 GPA and is majoring in political science with a double minor in criminal justice and international studies. She was recently honored as Radford University’s Political Science Department Dean’s Scholar. Only one senior per department is chosen as a dean’s scholar. Mundyis a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and serves as a tutor in the Learning Enhancement Center.
Demi Taramonlis (men’s tennis) was named this year’s Male Newcomer of the Year. He made himself known by winning 26 matches as a freshman. Jayde Dudley (women’s golf) was named this year’s Female Newcomer of the Year. She won the Big South Conference’s Freshman of the Week award five times.
Other award nominees were Anthony Galati (baseball), Devine Eke (men’s basketball), Aiden Rainford (women’s basketball), Brianna Oliver (women’s soccer), Joseba Incera (men’s soccer), Julia Burkley (women’s track & field), Rachel Millirons (women’s cross country), Zach Worthman (men’s cross country), Bella Signorello (women’s lacrosse), Patrick Gareiss (men’s golf), Jayde Dudley (women’s golf), Riley Oakes (softball), Demi Taramonlis (men’s tennis), Camryn McClure (women’s tennis) and Mackenzie Meehan (volleyball).
For the second time, Radford University honored an athlete with the Jen Norton Courage Award, given to an individual who has demonstrated strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of trial and the willingness to display positivity following a hardship. This year the award was presented to Sandra Brackett from the women’s soccer team.
"Because of her championship composure, relentless effort and determined mindset, those that surround Brackett are never fully aware of the physical struggles and personal hardships she has gone through the past couple of years while at Radford," said assistant strength and conditioning coach Jennifer Norton
"She continues to defy science every single day while struggling with a physical condition that to most people, would severely limit their ability to play sports. Not for a second has Brackett ever allowed this to stop her from being the best version of herself every day,” Norton said.
“Her positive attitude, high energy, and determined outlook on life are infectious to those around her and are evident every single day of training. She leads her teammates and sets the example of what a dedicated and courageous student-athlete and person should be and how she should live her life no matter what is thrown at her. She never complains and is always looking for ways to better herself and to successfully overcome her physical setback. She is one of the most dedicated, caring, and inspiring athletes I have ever been fortunate enough to work with. There is nobody more deserving of this award than Sandra Brackett."
The women’s soccer program captured the RUBY Cup this year. The RUBY CUP recognizes the team that achieved over a 3.0 GPA, displays team spirit at competitions, and is active in the community throughout the year.
The Senior Leadership Award recognizes a senior student-athlete who has excelled in academics and athletics, and has made significant contributions to the community by demonstrating leadership and a commitment to service. This award recognizes an individual who promotes the university and athletics department’s missions, goals, and values through their actions; demonstrates exceptional leadership ability; and fosters a positive and motivating environment for their team. Women’s lacrosse player and student-athlete advisory committee president Jenny Davis and Jacob Wilkinson from the men’s soccer team are the two honorees for this award.
Other awards given out were strength and conditioning Teammate of the Year and strength and conditioning All-Americas. Straton Podaras (baseball) and Courtney Kaplan (women’s soccer) received the strength and conditioning honors.
Teammate of the Year was presented to one member of each team: Straton Podaras (baseball), Donald Hicks (men’s basketball), Jen Falconer (women’s basketball, Lily McLane (women’s soccer), Pape Oumar Gueye (men’s soccer), Kiara Price (track & field / cross country), Callum Willson (men’s cross country), Rachel Rogers (women’s lacrosse), Hunter Duncan (men’s golf), Riko Nagai (women’s golf), Abby Wilson (softball), Dinos Raptis (men’s tennis), Malin Falk (women’s tennis), and Stephanie Neast (volleyball).
The strength and conditioning All-Americas were Liam Deacy (men’s soccer), Travis Fields Jr. (men’s basketball), Khiana Johnson (women’s basketball), Stephanie Neast (volleyball), and Sofia Tapia (softball).
This year, the Team MVP was chosen from among three nominees and voted on by fans at home through polls on both Facebook and Twitter. The vote totals from both platforms were combined, and the student-athlete with the highest percentage of votes was chosen as the team’s MVP.
Peter Gasperini (men’s golf) took home the highest percentage of votes across all sports with 72.50% of the vote. Carlik Jones (men’s basketball) wasn’t far behind with 71.14% of the vote.
Colby Higgerson was baseball’s MVP; Jessie Marvin took home softball’s MVP award.
Khiana Johnson was the women’s basketball winner; Callum Wilson won the men’s cross-country MVP award. La’Tisha Chambers dominated the women’s track and field and cross-country MVP award which had the second-most participation across all polls.
Jayde Dudley took home the women’s golf MVP award; Demi Taramonlis did the same for men’s tennis. Victor Valls won the men’s soccer MVP award, and Nelia Perez took the women’s soccer MVP. Grace Gleason was the women’s lacrosse MVP, and Anastasia Belyaeva wawa named the women’s tennis MVP.