By Samantha Seiders
Blue, gold and white filled the school gymnasium on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 9th, for the 10th annual Student-Athlete Recognition (STAR) Awards.
The STAR Awards is an annual event recognizing the academic achievements, community spirit and athletic excellence of San Diego Mesa College student-athletes. MAAP Counselor Kristy Carson and cross country/track and field star Chris Varela Benitez hosted this sporting event.
In true sporting fashion, the event was commenced with an electric performance of Star Spangled Banner by beach volleyball's Lisa Moore-Teague and baseball's Zack Mann. Student-athlete Garett Eldred earned himself a starting position, opening the ceremony with his remarks on what is means to be a student-athlete.
Garett Eldred stated, "We as student athletes are the face of Mesa, and someone is always watching us - so act accordingly."
Baseball scored the team attendance award, while men's tennis and women's softball evened the score with the highest team GPA, with a 3.41 and 3.22 respectively, for spring 2016. The highest team GPA for fall 2016 put men's cross country (3.05) and women's indoor volleyball (3.11) on the scoreboard next.
The STAR Awards reached halftime with lunch, where President Pamela T. Luster, Vice President Tim McGrath, Council District Six Representative Dan Manley, and many Olympian student-athletes and teams refueled.
Six-time world champion and gold medalist Brittney Reese stepped up to plate as the 10th annual STAR Award's keynote speaker. In addition to being a coach with San Diego Mesa's track and field team, Brittney Reese is an American record holder in long jump, and most recently placed silver in the long jump event at the 2016 Olympics. She attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in 2004 and exemplifies what determination, focus and accomplishment can become from humble beginnings at a community college.
Three San Diego Mesa student-athletes won gold in the top individual GPA event at the STAR Awards: Bryan Moser from men's swim and dive, Mong Ng from men's track and field and Leah Veleker from women's basketball, all of whom held a 4.0 GPA throughout the year.
Leah Veleker again took 1st in the Individual Community Spirit Award for her passion, hard work and dedication in women's basketball.
The passion extended to women's soccer student-athlete Georgina Herrera, the winner of the SuperSTAR Award.
Women's soccer Head Coach Todd Curran states, "Geo is the most humble, hard-working, talented young lady that has ever played soccer here at Mesa College."
The STAR Awards finished with over 400 student-athletes being honored altogether for their excellence at San Diego Mesa College on and off the pitch. Go Olympians!