DENTON, Texas (3/29/09) - University of North Texas tennis head coach Sujay Lama was announced by the NCAS (National Consortium for Academics and Sports) as a finalist for the 2009 National STUDENT-Athlete Day Giant Steps Award in the category of Coach.
“It is humbling to be mentioned as a finalist for this prestigious award along with great coaches from around the country," said Lama. "The steps we have taken would not be possible if it was not a team effort. So many people in our athletic department along with the hard work of our student athletes have made it possible for our program to take many small steps which has accumulated into a giant step. This is a recognition for not just me but also UNT athletics.”
The finalists include: Cyril Crutchfield, Jr. (Head Football Coach, Plaquemines High School), Ron Hunter (Head Men's Basketball Coach, IUPUI), MaChelle Joseph (Head Women's Basketball Coach, Georgia Tech), Sujay Lama (Head Tennis Coach, University of North Texas), and Bruce Pearl (Head Men's Basketball Coach, University of Tennessee).
National STUDENT-Athlete Day was created 22 years ago to honor student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics, while having made significant contributions to their schools and communities. It is also a time to recognize the network of parents, teachers, coaches, and school systems who make it possible for young people to succeed in all aspects of their lives and using sport as a vehicle for positive social change. National STUDENT-Athlete Day was created by the NCAS and is currently co-sponsored by the NCAA, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and Northeastern University’s Sport in Society.
This National Award is given in the categories of Courageous Student-Athlete, Coach, Athletics Administrator, Civic Leaders, etc. Some previous Giant Steps Award winners are Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs; Jennifer Rizzotti, former student-Athlete, University of Connecticut; Donna Lopiano, Executive Director, Women’s Sports Foundation; Willie Davis, Head Basketball Coach, Smith Junior High School, former Senator Bill Bradley; Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner, National Football League; Pat Summitt, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Tennessee; Tanya Hughes, former NCAA Woman of the Year; Joe Paterno, Head Football Coach, Penn State University.
Winners of the 2009 Giant Steps Awards will be contacted during the last week of March. However, the awards will not be announced nationally on April 6, 2009. The actual Giant Steps Awards will be presented to the winners at the Annual Giant Steps Award Ceremony that will take place in Orlando in October 2009.