One male and one female athlete were selected to receive the 2015 Hammer Strength All American Athlete of the Year Award: Matt Stainbrook from Xavier University and Lauren Okafor from James Madison University.
The 2014-15 Xavier University Men's Basketball roster consisted of 6 Freshmen and 1 Transfer that had never played in the Xavier Basketball system. Matt Stainbrook was charged with leading these young men, and he did so with enthusiasm and intensity, action and voice, drive and determination. Playing in the BIG EAST Championship Game and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament this year was the glowing proof that Matt succeeded in this charge.
Matt displayed these qualities of leadership early in his career as a transfer from Western Michigan University in the Summer of 2012. Arriving at Xavier weighing 315 pounds, with 26% body fat, Matt tirelessly devoted himself to transforming his body, and developing his leadership voice in the Weight Room, during his Redshirt season. This purpose driven year, highlighted by Matt's competitive spirit and consistent work ethic, saw his bodyweight drop to 258 pounds and his body fat percentage drop to 17%. As a measure of strength, Matt's "NBA Combine 185# Bench Press Test" increased by 13 reps (1 rep in Summer 2012 to 14 reps in Summer 2013). These are just a few reminders of how devoted Matt was to leading his teammates, because first, he had to learn to lead himself.
Matt Stainbrook is truly a great Teammate, a selfless leader of others, and an inspiration to his University, Community, Coaches, and Team. AS A SENIOR BASKETBALL ATHLETE Xavier University Men's Basketball Senior Captain 2015 BIG EAST Tournament Championship Game 2015 NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16 Game 2014-15 Second Team All-BIG EAST 2015 NABC Reese's Division I College All-Star Game BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week "March 7, 2015 2014 Wooden Legacy All-Tournament Team Lead Xavier University in Season Scoring Average - 12.3 per game Lead Xavier University in Season Rebounding Average - 6.9 per game Scored 1,481 Career Points AS A STUDENT-ATHLETE Graduate Student "Pursuing Masters of Business Administration - 3.42 GPA Xavier University" 2015 Graduate - Finance Degree - 3.33 GPA Senior Class Award Second Team Academic All-American 2014-15 CoSIDA Capitol One Academic All-District 5 First Team Selection 2014 Men's Basketball Division I-A Athletics Directors Association 10 Member Scholar-Athlete Team 2013-14 BIG EAST All-Academic Team OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM AND THE COURT Co-President of the Xavier University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee - SAAC raised $5,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation Volunteer "Cincinnati Children's Hospital Volunteer - Buddy Walk - Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati Volunteer - Academy of World Languages "Cincinnati, Ohio TEAM IMPACT Sponsor" Matt lead the charge for Xavier Men's Basketball to "Adopt" Trey Couch (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Patient) as an Honorary Member of the Team Nominee - Allstate NABC Good Works Team
James Madison University redshirt-senior center Lauren Okafor is the 2015 Colonial Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year for women's basketball. Okafor is a psychology major in the pre-med program at JMU. She earned the 2015 Dean Ehlers Leadership Award for her efforts both on and off the court and in the community in addition to collecting the 2014 Arthur Ashe Female Sports Scholar Award. This season, she received CAA All-Academic honors and JMU Athletic Director Scholar-Athlete honors while making the JMU President's List in the fall.
On the court, Okafor led the conference in rebounding (9.8 rpg) and field goal percentage (.531) during her senior campaign. She added 12.4 points per game and 1.7 blocks per contest on her way to earning All-CAA First Team, CAA All-Defensive Team and CAA All-Tournament Team accolades. She also finished her senior season ranked nationally - 20th in offensive rebounds per game, 38th in double-doubles, 40th in rebounding average. During the 2014-15 season, Okafor pulled down 323 rebounds, ranking fifth in JMU history, and blocked 57 shots, the second most in a single season at JMU. She finished her career third in all-time blocked shots (156) and 12th in all-time rebounds (761). The Dukes (29-4) made their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season after winning both the CAA Regular-Season and Tournament Championships. They set a school record for regular-season victories with 26 and tied a school record with 29 overall wins.
Lauren's commitment to strength & conditioning at JMU, working with strength coach Greg Werner, has been transformational. Lady came to JMU as a transfer from Big East, Providence, and her first semester was a tough one for her. Up to that point she hadn't fully committed to a fast-paced year-round program. But, after she got through the initial shock of the JMU program's fast-paced training tempo she made an educated decision to trust the program and jump in fully. Her most impressive metamorphosis took place during the off-season and preseason before her senior season. Lauren took her knowledge of the human body she had gained through her studies and used her motivation to be a force in the post to work even harder and smarter in her strength & conditioning program to shed body fat, build muscle and get herself into incredible shape. Her results were incredible and her performance was enhanced. Lauren Okafor is the epitome of the term student-athlete, and I'm proud to nominate her for the 2015 Hammer Strength All American Athlete Award.