May 13, 2014
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The University of San Diego honored the athletic and academic accomplishments of its student-athletes Monday night at the "Celebration of Excellence" ceremony at the Prado in Balboa Park. Among the honorees were senior Chloe Ferrari of the volleyball team, who took home “Female Torero of the Year,” and seniors Clarke Spinosa (men’s tennis) and Mason Mills (football), who were co-winners of the “Male Torero of the Year” award.
The night’s festivities kicked off with the release of a Torero-themed parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” music video, which featured members of all 17 of USD’s sports, including athletic director Ky Snyder. The video can be seen below.
Ferrari, a native of Clovis, Calif., recovered from a season-ending knee injury in 2012 to tally a team-leading 337 kills with an impressive .444 hitting percentage, as well as 100 blocks and 86 digs. Ferrari, was a four-time first team All-WCC selection, the 2013 WCC Player of the Year, and helped guide USD to a program-best 26-4 overall record on the season. Ferrari was also tabbed AVCA Second Team All-American and was selected to the All-Regional team in Lincoln, Neb., after helping lead USD into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Ferrari completed her impressive Torero career with the best career hitting percentage in program history at .401 and her .444 hitting percentage in 2013 set a new single-season record. Ferrari received an invitation to compete with some of the best players in the world for the USA Volleyball National Team and is currently training, practicing and fighting for a travel roster spot.
Mills (Coronado, Calif.) a four-year starter at quarterback was tabbed the team's Most Valuable Player for the second straight year as he directed USD to an overall record of 8-3. Mills, the Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Year was named one of 20 finalists for the Walter Payton Award. Mason had an outstanding season by ranking amongst the nation's best by completing 66 percent (256-of-388) of his passes and totals of 256-for-388 for 3,463 yards and 35 touchdowns, good for third most in the FCS through the end of the regular season. He also ranked amongst the nation's top 15 in passing efficiency (168.1, 5th), passing yards per game (314.8, 7th) and completion percentage (13th). Mills helped the Torero Football team close out the 2013 regular season with a gutsy 23-13 win over Drake to stay atop of the PFL standings for the third straight year. Mills end his career as the Toreros' all-time leader in passing yards with 11,104, which ranks second all-time among PFL passers, while his 95 touchdown passes ranks second at USD.
Spinosa (Claremont, Calif.), the lone senior on the men’s tennis team, played at No. 1 singles and doubles with freshman partner Filip Vittek, where the duo went 19-6. Individually, Spinosa had a 22-10 overall record in singles and achieved a career-high ITA singles ranking of #27 nationally. Clarke helped the team win a second WCC Championship title in four years and for the fourth year in the row the Torero Tennis team made it to the second round of the NCAAs. Spinosa has the most doubles wins in USD history and has tied the all-time singles record with 100 wins. He has a chance to set the all-time record at the NCAA Singles Tournament Championships next week.
Spinosa’s double partner, Filip Vittek, along with softball’s Olivia Sandusky were named Rookies of the Year. Vittek, a Slovakia native, went 19-6 in doubles with Spinosa, reaching a national ranking of No. 36. The tandem was named to the All-WCC first team after going 8-0 in conference matches; they also defeated three doubles teams in the top-25. Individually, Vittek went 14-11 playing primarily at the No. 3 and 4 spots in singles. He closed out the season strong, winning nine of his last 11 matches.
Sandusky (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led the team in batting average (.322), on-base percentage (.383), and stolen bases (8). She was named the San Diego Hall of Champions Star of the Month for March and at one point she reached base in 25 consecutive games. Sandusky was second in the WCC amongst freshman in batting average, on-base percentage, RBI, and runs scored.
Athletes were recognized for their work in the classroom as well with the Annual Academic Achievement Award, which are presented to the sophomore, junior, and senior student-athletes with the highest cumulative GPA. Senior Julian Ringhof of the men’s soccer team won the senior award after posting a 3.95 GPA while majoring in mechanical engineering.
The junior class was represented by Ben Wylly, who won the award as a sophomore. Wylly holds a 3.95 overall GPA, majoring in peace and justice studies. Marta Stojanovic of the women’s tennis team took home the honors for the sophomore class. She sports a perfect 4.00 GPA as a behavioral neuroscience major.
This year's Student Athlete Advisory Committee President (SAAC), Brooke Jelniker of the women's basketball team, took home the SAAC Leadership Award. Jelniker is a three-year member of SAAC and has been dedicated and influential in communicating student-athletes’ desires and concerns to Athletics Administration.
The "Toreros Linking to the Community" Award (TLC) was presented to Kyle Miller, a senior on the football team. In his time at USD, he has been a part of several Leadership groups on-campus: the Leadership Advisory Board, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Emerging Leaders Instructor and the Changemaker Summer Fellowship. His summer as a “Changemaker” allowed him to gain exposure for the non-profit organization he developed called “Lace Up Stand Up”. This program focused on conflict resolution and anti-bullying initiatives among middle school and high school students.
The Torero swim and dive team received the "Spirit of the Torero" Award. The “Spirit of the Torero” is a SAAC initiative on Facebook that provides a forum for USD student-athletes and supporters to check out what student-athletes are doing in their sport and in the community. Teams were given points based on the photos and postings on the web page.
Lastly, the top three moments in Torero athletics were honored. The volleyball team took home the award for their home win over then No. 1 USC. The football team took second for their gritty finale 23-13 win in their season finale against Drake to stay atop the PFL standings for the third year in a row. The men’s team finished third for knocking off Pepperdine in the WCC Championship to stay undefeated against WCC teams.