Lincoln, Neb. – Former University of Nebraska volleyball standout Sarah Pavan earned an honor that literally took her breath away on Tuesday, as she was chosen as the 2007-08 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America® of the Year as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Pavan, who enjoyed a record-setting career as a right-side hitter in the Nebraska volleyball program, became the first-ever student-athlete to repeat as Academic All-American of the Year since the awards’ inception in 1988.
“When I heard I was selected, it left me speechless,” said Pavan, who graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA in biochemistry last May. “When you look at the list of past Academic All-Americans of the Year, it is an impressive list, and to know that I was the first person to win the award twice, I am truly honored. I had always set high goals for myself when I came to Nebraska, but those were always focused around volleyball, such as being an All-American and earning Academic All-American honors. I never thought I would be compared to the best student-athletes from other sports across the country for an award such as this, and to be chosen as the Academic All-American of the Year twice is something I would have never dreamed of.”
Pavan bested a stellar field of academic and athletic standouts in voting for the award. She totaled 176 points, including 28 first-place votes, to win decisively. Rachel Buehler of Stanford, the Women’s Soccer Academic All-American of the Year, placed second with 130 points on 19 first place votes. All-American pitcher Angela Tincher of the Virginia Tech softball team was third with 58 points and two first-place votes while catcher Buster Posey of the Florida State baseball team, the winner of the Dick Howser Trophy as the National Player of the Year, finished fourth with 55 points.
A native of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, Pavan was named as a first-team All-American by the AVCA four years in a row, becoming just the fourth Division I volleyball player in NCAA history to receive that distinction. She was also honored as the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American of the Year for volleyball as a junior and senior. In addition, she was named as The Big 12 Conference Female Athlete of the Year the last two seasons. A three-time pick as first team Academic All-America®, she won the Honda-Broderick Cup in June of 2007 and was a three-time Big 12 Volleyball Player of the Year.
In her career, Pavan set school records with 2,008 career kills and an average of 4.56 kills per game. She led the Cornhuskers to a 126-7 record and four Big 12 championships in her career, leading the Huskers to the 2006 NCAA title. In the classroom, she was an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winner and became Nebraska’s most recent NCAA Today’s Top Eight Award winner in January of 2008.
Pavan admits that she came to college with the idea that academics would be a priority. She recalls, “It was a lifestyle choice I made early on. I didn’t come to college and think ‘now I have to study more.’ Education was always a priority in my family growing up. I was going to college to get an education and having the opportunity to play volleyball was a bonus. Realizing that, my academics were my priority. I was fortunate to have people such as Dennis (Leblanc) and Keith (Zimmer) in our academic office. They understood my personality and were always there to help me out. They were mentors to me and were always there to give advice and help. Balancing a demanding major and a high-level sport takes a strong commitment, and Dennis and Keith were able to break things down for me and took care of so many things. Without them, it would have been overwhelming.”
The Academic All-American of the Year honor, which began in 1987-88, is awarded to the most outstanding student-athlete of the year and is chosen from the student-athletes who have been awarded Team Member of the Year honors. From more than 360,000 student-athletes in the nation, just 816 are selected as Academic All-America Team members each year, 24 are selected as Team Members of the Year and two are named Academic All-America of the Year.
"With nearly 12,000 student athletes being nominated for Academic All-America each year, and considering the number of athletes competing in intercollegiate sports, to reach the epitome of what it means to be a successful student-athlete and be selected as the best of the best is quite an amazing achievement," said Bentley College's Dick Lipe, CoSIDA Academic All-America chair.
Former recipients of Academic All-America of the Year honors include Rebecca Lobo (1994-95), Peyton Manning (1997-98), Chad Pennington (1999-00), Stacey Dales-Schuman (2001-02) and Emeka Okafor (2003-04). A complete list of the previous recipients of the AAA of the Year award follows.
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For more information about the Academic All-America ® Teams program, please visit www.cosida.com.