Valparaiso University awarded 121 student-athletes with Presidential Academic Honors while also handing out the Laurel Award at the 22nd Annual Student-Athletes Academic Honors Banquet held on Sunday evening in the Harre Union.
Presidential Academic Honors are awarded to student-athletes who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.25-or-higher after at least two semesters at Valpo.
Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West), a former member of the men’s soccer team, was presented with the annual Laurel Award, honoring the graduating senior student-athlete who achieved the highest cumulative grade point average. Zobeck graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in December, and is currently playing with FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.
Zobeck was one of three individuals to earn the Finishing at the Top honor this year, given to graduating seniors with a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 or higher. Zobeck was joined by fellow men's soccer player Kevin Miller (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias), a physics major, and women's basketball player Tabitha Gerardot (Fort Wayne, Ind./Canterbury), a French and Spanish double major.
The evening also featured 17 individuals being honored as Outstanding Student-Athletes for carrying a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 or higher, regardless of their class in school. In addition, a pair of senior student-athletes annually speak on their experiences throughout their Crusader careers. This year, golfer Josh Kalita (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton), a management major, and basketball player Gina Lange (Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake), an exercise science major, had the honor of addressing the nearly 200 student-athletes, families, administration members, and professors that were in attendance.
Valparaiso University alum Dr. Ann (Stien) Schwartz was the keynote speaker for the evening. Schwartz currently serves as the Director of Residency Education in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. A swimmer during her time at Valpo, Schwartz was the inaugural recipient of the Laurel Award, first presented in 1992.