Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks student-athletes Emalee Pearson and Cory Briggs were named the 2009-2010 Female and Male Athlete of the Year, it was announced Tuesday at the school's annual Awards Day ceremony.
The Athlete of the Year award is given to a student-athlete who displays outstanding athletic accomplishments, combined with academic excellence and superior career credentials. The award is voted on by the university’s athletic staff.
Pearson, a senior soccer player, was among the top players in the American Southwest Conference in 2009, helping the team tie the school record for most shutouts in a season (5). The 5-foot-8 defender was named to the All-ASC Third Team following the 2009 season, which saw her record two assists, serve as a team captain and lead the team in minutes played. She capped her senior season by earning the ASC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete award for women’s soccer. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, she is the program’s career leader in starts (70). She is second in career games played (71). In 2008, she was a NSCAA Scholar All-American. Additionally, she worked in the Sports Information Office for two years, earning ASC SID All-Academic status.
She has been on the ASC All-Academic Team three times. Pearson, who graduated in December with a degree in strategic communications, is the daughter of Steve Pearson and Judith Patterson.
Briggs, a senior baseball player from Greencastle, Pa., hit .319 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 30 RBI this season. Briggs played shortstop, outfield and first base. He additionally started eight games on the mound, ranking second on the team in strikeouts (44) and innings pitched (48.2). The 6-foot, 200-pound right-hander was named ASC Pitcher of the Week once this season. During his career, he has earned ABCA/Rawlings All-America Second Team honors, ABCA/Rawlings All-Region First Team honors, ASC co-Preseason Player of the Year, All-Conference four times and ASC Hitter of the Week. Briggs was part of three playoff seasons for the Eagles. In 2008, he set school single-season records in batting (.467), hits (79), total bases (124) and doubles (19). He is the school’s career leader in hits (200) and assists (430). He is second in doubles (39), runs (133) and RBI (129), third in games started (150) and home runs (21), seventh in slugging percentage (.541) and ninth in batting (.351).
He has been on the ASC All-Academic Team three times. He is an elementary education major and the son of Jeff and Wendy Briggs.
“I can’t think of two more deserving student-athletes to receive this award,” said athletics director Jimmy Clark. “They have each excelled in their respective sports and in the classroom. Both are self-motivated. They’ve represented the university well, doing things the right way. They were both hard-nosed, tough athletes who were leaders and gave it their all. This is a nice reward for their hard work and dedication.”
Other nominees for Female and Male Athlete of the Year were Tadera Garland (cross country), Stephany Henson (softball), April Young (basketball), Aaron Brueckner (soccer), David James (cross country) and Blake Mitchem (basketball).