Valparaiso University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) announced its year-end awards on Sunday evening at the fifth annual Athletic Recognition Ceremony (ARC) Awards.
Valparaiso volleyball player Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) was named the Female Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive year, while men’s soccer player Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) was honored as Male Athlete of the Year. Men’s basketball player LaVonte Dority (Chicago, Ill./Foreman [USF]) was named the Male Newcomer of the Year and volleyball player Kelsey Berrington (Britton, Mich./Tecumseh) was named the Female Newcomer of the Year.
Root receives the Female Athlete of the Year award for the third consecutive year after earning her third straight Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year honors. The senior also earned AVCA All-Midwest Region honors and Honorable Mention All-American accolades for the third straight year. Root finished the 2012 volleyball season ranked 11th in the nation with 5.70 digs/set, while her 735 total digs marked the third-best single-season total in Valpo history. She closed her career with 2,752 career digs, ranking fourth in NCAA history in the category.
Zobeck takes home Male Athlete of the Year honors after being named the Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year for a second straight season. He led the Horizon League with a 0.81 goals against average, and also ranked among the league’s best with a .778 save percentage and five shutouts. Zobeck closed his career as the Valpo men’s soccer all-time leader in both goals against average (0.91) and shutouts (23). Following the season, Zobeck was drafted in the MLS Supplemental Draft by FC Dallas and signed with the club in March, becoming the first Crusader men's soccer alum to sign a Major League Soccer contract.
Dority earns Male Newcomer of the Year accolades after stepping immediately into the Crusader men’s basketball rotation after becoming eligible mid-season following his transfer from USF. The junior was named the Horizon League Sixth Man of the Year, coming off the bench in 21 of his 25 appearances and averaging 8.6 points per game. Dority scored in double figures in nine games for the Crusaders.
Berrington receives the Female Newcomer of the Year honor after being named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team. The freshman stepped into the setter role in the Crusader offense, leading the team in both assists and service aces on the season. She closed her rookie campaign ranked eighth in the Horizon League with 32 aces.
In addition Sunday, men’s soccer’s Tom Serratore (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) was the recipient of the Bill Steinbrecher Sportsmanship Award and women’s golf’s Kelly Voigt (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) received the Rebecca D. Carter Memorial Award, given to the male and female student-athletes who have best exemplified integrity and sportsmanship while representing Valparaiso University.
The awards were voted on by SAAC, which has representatives from all 21 of Valparaiso’s athletic teams. In addition, each Crusader team had a team award presented at Sunday night’s awards ceremony. The night’s program also featured recognition of all the student-athletes who have earned athletic or academic honors this year and a number of highlight and parody videos throughout the show, including a closing video featuring all of the athletic department’s graduating seniors.