Softball's Nelson Honored with Prestigious Christenberry Award
(Release courtesy of the Big South Conference)CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Big South Conference today honored Coastal Carolinas Brittany Nelson (softball), UNC Ashevilles Natasha Lucki (tennis), Winthrops Erica Devine (soccer), Charleston Southerns Adam DeGraffenreid (football) and Libertys Daniel Darnell (soccer) with the prestigious George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence. The award is given to one male student-athlete and one female student-athlete who attain the highest GPA during their college careers and are graduates of a member institution during the past year (in case of ties, additional awards are provided). Nelson graduated with a 4.00 in management and marketing, Lucki graduated with a 4.00 in biology, Devine graduated with a 4.00 in physical education, DeGraffenreid graduated with a 4.00 in biology, and Darnell graduated with a 4.00 in business management.
The League honor is named for George A. Christenberry, the former President of Augusta College (now Augusta State University) and one of the founders of the Big South Conference. A member of the Big South Hall of Fame, Christenberry served as the Leagues first President from 1983-86. It is the second time in the last three years that five student-athletes have been so honored.
The Christenberry Award is the most significant honor awarded to Big South student-athletes due to its emphasis on academic excellence, said Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander. The performances of Brittany, Natasha, Erica, Adam and Daniel in the classroom and on the field are exemplary and reflect the highest ideals of the Big South.
Nelson departs Coastal Carolina fourth all-time in school history in strikeouts (329), as well as fifth in appearances (99), wins (39) and innings pitched (465.1). She is seventh all-time in complete games (40), while posting a 39-32 career won-loss record and a 2.49 earned run average. Nelson also hit .266 in her career at the plate (290 at-bats) with nine home runs and 51 runs batted in. She was a member of the 2005 Big South softball All-Academic Team, and led Coastal that season in wins (12), innings pitched (127.2), strikeouts (112) and was second in ERA (2.52). During her career, Nelson was a member of the Big South Presidential Honor Roll, was a member of the Deans List and earned Big South All-Tournament Team honors in 2004.
Lucki, who graduated in December, was a three-year letterwinner for UNC Ashevilles womens tennis team after transferring from Winthrop. She was named the 2004-05 UNC Asheville Female Athlete of the Year after maintaining a 4.00 GPA her entire academic career. Lucki was voted the Big South womens tennis Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2004 and was a three-time member of the Big South womens tennis All-Academic Team. A four-time member of the Big South Presidential Honor Roll, Lucki was UNC Ashevilles No. 1 singles player for three years. Prior to her time with the Bulldogs, she was a member of the 2002 Big South Conference womens championship team at Winthrop.
Devine, a defender for the Lady Eagles, served as the team captain for each of her three seasons with the program. A transfer student, she was honored on the Presidents List each of her six semesters at Winthrop, while starting 50 of her 53 career games with the Lady Eagles since 2003. The 2005 Big South womens soccer Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Devine was selected to the Big South womens soccer All-Academic Team in 2004 and 2005.
DeGraffenreid helped Charleston Southern to the Big Souths football co-championship in 2005. He was named the 2006 I-AA Athletic Directors Association National Scholar-Athlete of the Year, in addition to being named to the I-AA Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team in 2004 and 2005. A two-year starter at defensive end, he recorded 36 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and one blocked kick in 2005, and posted 19 tackles for loss and eight sacks in two seasons, while finishing with 74 career tackles. He was named to Charleston Southerns Deans List every semester with a perfect GPA, and was voted the Big South Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year twice (2004, 2005). A three-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member (2004-06), DeGraffenried was CSUs Top Scholar-Athlete for football the last two years.
Darnell was a member of the Deans List all eight semesters at Liberty after transferring from Rowan Cabarrus Community College. He was involved in community outreach organization Campus Serve in Lynchburg for two years an organization that provides programs and support for families and children. He also was a Dorm Prayer leader for two years and overcame an ACL injury in 2004 to return to the line-up in 2005. A three-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member, Darnell appeared in a career-high 12 games in 2005, finishing with 33 appearances in his career, with 12 starts. Among his career highlights include his first collegiate goal and assist in the same game as a freshman in 2002.
One male and one female student-athlete from each member institution regardless if the sport is sponsored by the Big South are nominated for the Christenberry Award. The 2005-06 candidates:
School Male Nominee (sport) Female Nominee (sport)
Birmingham-Southern Alex Krempa (golf) Sarah Martin (volleyball)
Charleston Southern Adam DeGraffenreid (football) Danielle Baskin (basketball)
Coastal Carolina Brian Dowis (tennis) Brittany Nelson (softball)
High Point Jeffrey Fairman (cross country/track) Sarah McDonaugh (tennis)
Liberty Daniel Darnell (soccer) Brenda Tolsma (track & field)
Radford Patrick Colas (soccer) Dana Doganes (golf)
UNC Asheville John Chapuis (soccer) Natasha Lucki (tennis)
VMI Chris Brandriff (track & field) none
Winthrop Nic Bly (baseball) Erica Devine (soccer)