Archive for Thursday, May 3, 2007

Martin selected as finalist for NCAA senior award

May 3, 2007

Katie Martin has a chance to make history this spring, but she needs help.

The Missouri State University senior and Baldwin High School graduate was announced as one of the 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS softball award.

She was just excited to be in the original list of 20 players. The 10 finalists were announced late last week.

"I heard I was nominated a couple of weeks ago," Martin said. "I was pretty surprised and excited about being in the top 20, because there are so many Division I softball players across the country."

Martin and the other nine finalists are on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award ballot for a nationwide vote that concludes May 23. Fan balloting, available on the award's official Web site, will be combined with votes from coaches, media and sponsors to determine the recipient of the 2007 award.

The finalists were selected from a list of 20 candidates based on personal qualities that define a complete student athlete. While the on-the-field performance so far during the college softball season was a factor in determining the finalists, the criteria also includes a high emphasis on the classroom, character and community service.

"This is a great way to wrap up my senior year of college," Martin said. "I think recognition makes everyone feel pretty special and it is nice to know that someone notices the hard work student athletes put into their career."

Martin's father, Bob Martin (BHS teacher and coach), thinks highly of the award for a couple reasons.

"I like the idea because it recognizes them for being more than an athlete," said Bob Martin. "That's what I like about it. It recognizes some of the other things that she has done and that's kind of neat. I am pretty proud of her."

Katie Martin's parents said other BHS teachers have been voting and supporting Katie since she was announced as one of the top 20 candidates.

"People have been pretty supportive about it," Bob Martin said. "Teachers around here have all said something about it, which is really nice."

Katie Martin said the award would be a nice way to wrap up her career at Missouri State. Her senior campaign has been successful individually, but her team has struggled through tough times.

"My senior season has had both good and bad moments," Katie Martin said. "On one hand I am having my best year personally, but on the other hand our team is having some struggles this year. So it has sort of been up and down. The good part about it, though, is that all my teammates have had good attitudes and have made the year really fun for me."

Her parents have seen the ups and downs of the season as they travel to most her games, because the majority of them are only a few hours away.

"We make it to most of them," Bob Martin said. "This year there is a lot of driving. We go to Illinois three times and once into Indiana. It's kind of fun, but it's the last year for it.

"We are trying to make as many as we can," he said. "The good thing is they are all drivable distances. The Missouri Valley Conference is not really spread out. Eight hours is a long drive, but you can do that. You don't have to fly anywhere."

Katie Martin is so thankful her parents attend so many of her games, especially considering the distance they travel sometimes.

"It means so much to me that my parents sacrifice their time to come and watch me almost every game," she said. "I doubt most student-athletes in any sport are so lucky. It really shows me how much they care about me and I know I can count on them whenever I need them."

The fan voting will end May 23 and the award winner will be announced and presented with her trophy during the opening ceremonies of the 2007 NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Lowe's All-Senior All-America Team will also be recognized.

This year is the first for the softball division of the award that was launched in 2001 with basketball.

The initial concept of a special award for seniors was conceived by CBS sportscaster Dick Enberg, who was inspired in 2001 by the story of Shane Battier, who turned down offers from the NBA to return for his senior season at Duke despite the trend of college basketball players leaving school early. He led the Blue Devils to the national championship and earned his college degree during a sensational senior season.

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