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Greg Johnson | | January 19, 2017

Honors Celebration shows power of making a difference

  Six former NCAA student-athletes were honored at the 2017 Honors Celebration.

Growing up in Indiana, Beth Brooke-Marciniak was inspired by her father, who urged her to always make a difference.

She took the advice to heart, and her lifetime of work as one of the top international business executives paved the way to her being named the 2017 recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Award at the NCAA Convention on Wednesday night. Brooke-Marciniak was the top honoree at the NCAA Honors Celebration, which salutes individuals who have made contributions to college sports.

“My dad really drilled the thought into me that success is fleeting, but significance is lasting,” said Brooke-Marciniak, who is the global vice chair for Ernst & Young (EY), a multinational professional services firm that specializes in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services.

  Former Purdue basketball player Beth Brooke-Marciniak won the Theodore Roosevelt Award.
Brooke-Marciniak, a former basketball player at Purdue University, said her company has conducted studies that show 94 percent of women business leaders played sports at some time in their lives.

“EY has given me a wonderful platform to build a wonderful working world,” Brooke-Marciniak said. “We try to help female athletes transition into business after their careers in sports end. We should hire former female student-athletes if we want women who can reach the top ranks in business.”

She said the statistics are also a strong indication that parents should keep their daughters involved in sports.

Another highlight of the event came when a video of Pete Frates, a former baseball player at Boston College who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2012, was honored with the Inspiration Award for his strength and determination in battling the disease. In summer 2014, Frates championed the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised around $220 million and awareness to combat the disease.

His father, John, and brother, Andrew, represented Frates at the Honors Celebration.

Florent Groberg, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor in July 2015 from President Barack Obama, was named the recipient of the NCAA Award of Valor. Groberg, a former distance runner at the University of Maryland, College Park, displayed courage in battle while running toward a suicide bomber while deployed in Afghanistan in August 2012. Four people lost their lives, but six times that number had their lives spared by Groberg’s actions.

Groberg spent 33 months in the Walter Reed Hospital recovering from his wounds. 

The Honors Celebration also highlighted six NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipients, who were recognized for being accomplished former student-athletes 25 years after the conclusion of their college careers.

The winners were:

  • Ty Detmer, a former Heisman Trophy-winning football player and recreational management major at Brigham Young University, is now the offensive coordinator for the football team at his alma mater.
  • Alonzo Mourning, a former basketball player and sociology major at Georgetown University, is now the vice president of player programs for the Miami Heat.
  • Susan Robinson Fruchtl, a former basketball player and exercise and sports science major at Pennsylvania State University, is now the director of athletics at St. Francis University (Pennsylvania).
  • Heather Taggart, a former soccer player and biochemistry and molecular biology major at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is now a physician of obstetrics and gynecology who volunteers to teach medical students at Creighton University.
  • Tommy Vardell, a former football player and industrial engineering major at Stanford University, is now the cofounder of Northgate Capital, a private equity and venture capital asset management firm.
  • Troy Vincent, a former football player and liberal arts major at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is now the executive vice president of football operations for the NFL.

The NCAA also presented its Today’s Top 10 Award to 2015-16 graduates who excelled on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The winners were:

Logan Andryk, a soccer player at the Milwaukee School of Engineering; Elizabeth Aronoff, a swimmer from Emory University; Kendall Coyne, a hockey player from Northeastern University; Taylor Ellis-Watson, a distance runner at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Nicole Hensley, a hockey player from Lindenwood University; Christopher Krimbill, a tennis player from Case Western Reserve University; Haylie McCleney, a softball player from the University of Alabama; Tiffany Mitchell, a basketball player from the University of South Carolina, Columbia; Dak Prescott, a football player from Mississippi State University; and Jason Vander Laan, a football player at Ferris State University.  

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