BYU hosts 11th annual Y Awards

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President Cecil L. Samuelson gives one last thumbs up to the students after they yell, "Whoosh, Cecil!" during the Y Awards Ceremony. President and Sister Samuelson were honored with a gift from the faculty and students for their dedicated service for the past 11 years. Photo by Natalie Stoker
President Cecil L. Samuelson gives one last thumbs up to the students after they yell, “Whoosh, Cecil!” during the Y Awards Ceremony. President and Sister Samuelson were honored with a gift from the faculty and students for their dedicated service for the past 11 years. Photo by Natalie Stoker

Two coaches, two teams and eighteen BYU athletes came away winners at the 11th annual Y Awards.

The Y awards are set up to honor and acknowledge student athletes, coaches and teams for outstanding performances on the field and in the classroom. This year’s event was hosted by the cast of BYUtv’s “Studio C” and was broadcast live for the first time ever through BYUtv.

“Being that it was the first time it’s been live, everything went really smoothly,” said Chelsea Fairbourn of BYU Athletics, who worked on putting the Y Awards together. “Hopefully the live airing can become a tradition and we can continue to invite the public to the show.”

The women’s basketball team stole the show, fresh off its historic NCAA tournament run in which it upset NC State and Nebraska. The team became the third-ever 12-seed to reach the Sweet 16, where it gave the undefeated and seemingly unbeatable UConn a run for its money.

In addition to winning Team of the Year, women’s hoops came away with three other awards: Lexi Eaton, for Comeback Player of the Year, Jen Hamson for Female Athlete of the Year and Coach Jeff Judkins for Coach of the Year.

“It means a lot to these girls to have a successful night at the Y Awards,” said Dan Haslam, the women’s basketball marketing coordinator. “They played hard all year, had a great season and are finally getting the recognition they deserve, so I know they’re all happy about that.”

Men’s volleyball also had a good night, winning Men’s Team of the Year and accepting the award via recorded video from Hawaii. Devin Young won the Ed Stein Award, and senior star Taylor Sander co-won Male Athlete of the Year after tying with Tyler Haws.

That wasn’t the only award of the night for Haws, who also won the Floyd Johnson Service Award for continued dedication to service off the basketball court. Haws brought his grandfather up to the stage to accept the award, saying his grandpa was his role model of good service.

Football took home three awards, courtesy of Taysom Hill, Jamaal Williams and Uani Unga. Hill won the Performance of the Year Award, with his 259 rushing yards in BYU’s big win over Texas in September. Williams surprised no one by winning the Male Crowd Pleaser of the Year Award, while Unga took home the Dale McCann Spirit of the Sport Award.

Throughout the week leading up the awards show, and during the show, fans had an opportunity to vote on Twitter for their favorite game of the year. The games nominated for the award were men’s and women’s basketball over Gonzaga, men’s volleyball’s dramatic five-game victory over UCLA in last year’s playoffs, football’s high-scoring victory at Houston, and women’s soccer’s unbelievable three-goal comeback in the final minutes of their game against Oklahoma.

Women’s soccer won the big award, and the team members in attendance took to the stage to accept the award.

Forward Jaiden Thornock said the award meant a lot for her and the team.

“It really speaks for how awesome our fans are,” Thornock said. “It is such an honor for our team to win that award, and I know we all feel so lucky to have the amazing fans that we do. We truly have the best fans in the country.”

Game of the Year wasn’t soccer’s only award, however, as Erica Owens won the Lu Wallace Outstanding Female Senior athlete award and then asked for dates.

“I have escaped BYU still with an open finger, so if anyone has anyone they want to set me up with … ” Owens said in her acceptance speech.

Track and field won three awards on the night behind Kyle Brown’s Kimball Memorial Award for obtaining the highest GPA while at BYU. Brown has maintained a 4.0 GPA while at BYU and was also noted as having recorded a perfect score on his ACT.

Baseball didn’t go unnoticed, as Kelton Caldwell took home the award for Play of the Year for his walkoff homerun to put BYU in the WCC playoffs. Last season’s freshman phenomenon Jacob Hannemann won Rookie Of The Year due to getting drafted and now playing professional baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization.

“Studio C” entertained the crowd throughout the night, performing skits, telling jokes and even getting a smile out of head football coach, Bronco Mendenhall. Mendenhall poked fun at himself, participating in a skit and pretending Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” was his favorite song.

Notable presenters at the ceremony were former football players Andrew George, Preston Hadley, David NIxon, Chad Lewis and Lee Johnson. Current basketball players Anson Winder and Chase Fischer presented an award, as did current football coach and former player Jason Beck.

President and Sister Samuelson presented an award and were also recognized by athletic director Tom Holmoe for one final “Whoosh Cecil” from the audience.

While this year’s Y Awards are over, the running for next year is already underway. Everything baseball and volleyball do until the end of their current seasons qualify for next year’s Y Awards.

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