NASHVILLE - The 2012 induction class of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame already includes Gene Bartow and Coach David Walker along with Tennessean of the Year Pat Summitt, but the list of honorees keeps getting better. The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame announced today the names of 10 Athlete of the Year honorees to be recognized at its annual awards banquet and induction ceremony on Saturday, May 19th at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville.
Just concluding her Tennessee career, Jenny Connolly was one of two to be tabbed the Tennessee Female Amateur Athlete of the Year.
During her senior campaign, Connolly earned six First-Team All-America honors at the 2012 NCAA Championships to help the Lady Vols capture seventh. Over the course of her career at Tennessee, Connolly totaled a UT-best 14 First-Team All-America certificates, while her overall All-America total of 22 honors ranks only behind Olympian Christine Magnuson.
She won four Southeastern Conference gold medals at the 2012 league meet, placing first in the 100 yard back, the 100 yard fly and in both the 200 yard and 400 yard medley relays. She also scored the third most points of any competitor at SECs, accumulating 53 1Ž2 points to lead Tennessee to a runner-up finish.
She won multiple events in every dual meet on the season, highlighted by sweeping her four events against No. 2 Florida on Senior Day. The West Lafayette, Indiana native was a perfect 4-4 in the 100y back in dual meets on the year, while never finishing below third in any event over the course of the squad's six dual meets.
During the summer as a member of Team USA, she won a gold medal at the World University Games in the 50 meter back, and added a silver medal in the 100 meter back. She will leave Tennessee as the school record holder in the 100 yard back and on four relays.
Connolly shares the accolade with soccer player Jamie Achten of Lee University. Over the course of her four-year tenure at Lee, Achten earned numerous awards, both on and off the field, headlined by NAIA Player of the Year honors in both her junior and senior seasons, the first NAIA player to accomplish the feat twice.
The other honorees are listed below.
The Male Professional Athlete of the Year: Dan Uggla Atlanta Braves standout who graduating from Columbia Central High School in Columbia, TN, in 1998, Uggla attended the University of Memphis where after his junior season he was named an All-American by Baseball America, Baseball Weekly, and Collegiate Baseball. During the 2011 season with the Braves, Uggla became the 23rd player in MLB history to have a hitting streak of at least 33 games. Uggla along with rookie Freddie Freeman became the first Braves in the modern era to have concurrent 20-game hitting streaks. On August 12, 2011 Uggla hit two home runs in a home game against the Chicago Cubs to break the Atlanta Braves record for longest hitting streak.
The Professional Team of the Year is being awarded to two Tennessee teams. The first is the Nashville Predators, and Coach Barry Trotz. Trotz, the second-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind only Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, guided the Predators to playoff series victory for the first time in franchise history in 2011, topping the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals before pushing the Stanley Cup Finalist Vancouver Canucks to six hard-fought games in the conference semifinals. Trotz is the only coach to lead his team to the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, averaging nearly 98 points per season. The Predators also boast the League's sixth highest win total (272) and third-most home victories (155) in the League since the start of the 2005-06 season. The second is The Memphis Grizzlies. For the 2010-2011 Memphis Grizzlies, it was a year of firsts: first playoff win in franchise history, first playoff series win in franchise history, and first career trip to the playoffs for head coach Lionel Hollins. All of this coming after a season ending shoulder injury to star small forward Rudy Gay. With all that said, it was definitely a hectic and historic campaign for the Grizz, one that did require a lot of perseverance and toughness to get through.
The Male Amateur Athlete of the Year is Vanderbilt University's John Jenkins. Jenkins, a Hendersonville Tennessee native led the SEC in scoring for the last two seasons, is one of the program's best sharp shooters from beyond-the-arc and one of Vanderbilt's most decorated players of all time. Jenkins led the SEC in scoring in two consecutive seasons for first time since 1995 and 1996, while also pacing the nation in threes made with nearly four per game.
Two collegiate Tennessee teams will be recognized as Amateur Teams of the Year. Lee University Lady Flames Soccer and Vanderbilt University Baseball Team. Lee University captured its third-straight NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship. The Lee women's soccer team made NAIA history in capturing its fourth consecutive national championship. Vanderbilt University Baseball team made school history when they made their first appearance at the College World Series in Omaha this year.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is also recognizing Belmont Bruins Basketball Team and Tusculum College standout Bo Cordell as recipients of our Outstanding Achievement Award. The Bruins Compiled a 30-5 record, the most victories and highest winning percentage in Atlantic Sun Conference history and were only one of nine NCAA Division I programs to record 30 victories in the 2010-11 season. They also led the NCAA in scoring margin and ranked in the Top 10 nationally in five statistical categories. The other recipient, Bo Cordell passed for over 400 yards in nine consecutive games in 2010, which set TC, SAC and NCAA II records. He was named SAC Offensive Player of the Week four times this year and twice honored as national offensive player of the week by D2football.com and D2 Sports Insider.
In addition to Bartow (Basketball) and Walker (Track) the induction class of 2012 previously announced includes Tim Jackson (Golf), Rick Insell (Basketball), James Marsalius (Football), Zan Guerry (Tennis), Gibby Gilbert (Golf), Bill Dance (Professional Fisherman), Jeff Byrd (Motorsports) and Brig. General Austin Shofner (Football and Wrestling) .