May 9, 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. - Women's Lacey Nymeyer and men's swimmer Albert Subirats and football player Antoine Cason were named Ruby and Sapphire Award winners at the annual C.A.T.S. Awards Dinner presented by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The awards, which are the highest honors bestowed upon current University of Arizona student-athletes, are given to the female and male senior student-athletes who have achieved the greatest success athletically, and have also excelled in academics, personal development and community service.
Nymeyer, a native of Tucson, Ariz., won more individual or relay NCAA championships (10) than Nymeyer, including five in 2008 as she led the Cats to the team title as well. An outstanding freestylist, she is ranked among the top six swimmers in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyles according to USA Swimming. A 19-time All-American, Nymeyer's relay prowess has led to a pair of world and U.S. Open records.
Subirats, from Valencia, Venezuela, holds UA records in freestyle, butterfly and backstroke. Subirats was an essential component to the Wildcats' 2008 NCAA championship, as he won the 100-yard butterfly and was a part of Arizona's 400-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays. All told, he capped his collegiate career with eight national championships and collected 17 All-America accolades.
Cason, a Long Beach, Calif., native, was the 2007 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back and a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Cason, who was named an All-American by five different organizations, started all 46 games in his collegiate career. As a senior in 2007, Cason tallied five interceptions, two returned for scores, plus 14 pass breakups, a sack, three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He also returned a punt for a touchdown as well, giving him the UA career record for combined return (INT and kicks) touchdowns with five. He finished with 15 career interceptions, No. 4 on UA's all-time list behind storied Cats Chuck Cecil (21), Jackie Wallace (20) and Chris McAlister (18) and is the second Arizona player to win the Thorpe Award following 1990 honoree Darryll Lewis.
Neil Willey, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, was named the J.F. "Pop" McKale Coach of the Year by a vote of the UA student-athletes. He helped three Wildcat teams earn national championships in 2007-08: softball and men's and women's swimming. The award is based on contributions to the athletic department and a commitment to being a positive role model for student-athletes.
The Silver Anniversary Award winners were Colonel Penny Carson (softball) and Nicholas Balich (football). The C.A.T.S. Silver Anniversary Award is given to former student-athletes who competed a minimum of 25 years ago. The award recognizes past letterwinners who have mad a significant impact within their community.
Colonel Peggy R. Carson attended the University of Arizona on an athletic scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1980. Peggy began her military career by enlisting in the Arizona Air National Guard. After attending basic training and technical school, she returned to the University of Arizona, joined the Army ROTC program, completed her degree and was commissioned. Her first assignment was in Germany with the 87th Maintenance Battalion.
Peggy became a Colonel in 2003 and in 2004 she took command of Defense Contract Management Command Phoenix and was deployed numerous times to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait in direct support of our military, providing base camp and life support operations. On March 1, 2008, Colonel Carson retired from the U.S. Army after more than 28 years of military service.
Nicholas Balich graduated with a degree in Business Administration from The University of Arizona in 1960 and was a member of the football team and President of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He spent his last year at the university as a graduate assistant coach under Jim LaRue. Nick spent his career with Phelps Dodge Corp, from which he retired in 1995 as Vice President. Nick was past President and Chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Committee and was also a member of the Super Bowl Thirty Host Committee. Nick has been a long time member of the Wildcat Club and has been very active in several University of Arizona Alumni groups. The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame gave Nick the Distinguished Arizonan Award in 1997 and he was also the recipient of the Centennial Achievement Award given by The University of Arizona Alumni Association in 1998.
The women's gymnastics and men's tennis teams received the highest team grade point average award for its work during the 2007-08 school year and the gymnastics team earned the Athletic Director's Cup for Community Service. Individual community service awards went to Daniel Marshall (track and field) and Jill Malina (softball).
A total of 169 Arizona student-athletes earned a grade point average of 3.0 or better during the 2007-08 academic year. Fifty-three student-athletes are expected to graduate this spring.
Freshmen of the Year: Alejandra Llaneza (women's golf) and Jerryd Bayless (men's basketball)
Sophomores of the Year: Miranda Russell (gymnastics) and Joel Greenshields (men's swimming)
Juniors of the Year: Lara Jackson (women's swimming) and Mike Thomas (football)
Silver Anniversary Winners: Colonel Peggy Carson (softball) and Nicholas Balich (football)
Highest Team Grade Point Average: gymnastics and men's tennis
C.A.T.S. Life Skills Athletes of the Year: Karin Wurm (gymnastics)/Lindsay Kelly (women's swimming) and Daniel Marshall (track and field)
Athletic Directors Cup for Community Service: gymnastics (team winner), Jill Malina (softball) and Daniel Marshall (track and field)
Pop McKale Coach of the Year: Neil Willey (strength and conditioning)
Ruby Award (Top Male Student-Athlete): Antoine Cason (football) and Albert Subirats (men's swimming)
Sapphire Award (Top Female Student-Athlete): Lacey Nymeyer (women's swimming)