One male and one female athlete were selected to receive the 2016 Hammer Strength All American Athlete of the Year Award: Raquel Rodriguez from Penn State University and Jimmy Kerrigan from Virgina Commonwealth University.
Raquel was nominated for her oustanding performing in the following four areas:
WORK ETHIC: To make those dreams happen, Raquel had to adapt. She had to learn to communicate with the staff and her team differently, before becoming accustomed to the use of terminology in sport, strength, and school. At first Rocky feared strength and conditioning. She feared her max fitness level wouldn't be enough to compete or play at the highest level. Little did she know, she was just getting started and this was the path that would take her there. Through tireless hours, days, months, and four full years, Rocky became a mentally tough, physically tough, emotional leader and the overall leader of team fitness, helping make others work to her unbelievably high standard. She gave her best effort every single rep of every single day, no questions asked. Not only did she give her best effort, she brought the best out in others. Today, we have witnessed the full transformation of the growth of an individual and what they can achieve if they set their mind to hard work and a disciplined effort.
LEADERSHIP: Raquel has grown in our culture to be an unbelievable asset and leader to not only the Women's Soccer team here at Penn State, but also to the university. Learning and progressing every single day, Rocky became a sensational leader and workhorse over the course of her time at Penn State. This year, after completing an astonishing senior season, Raquel capped it off with the game-winning goal in the NCAA National Championship in the 72nd minute, a test of true fitness at its finest. That goal gave Penn State its first Women's Soccer National Championship. Rocky went on to win the MAC Hermann Trophy, the Heisman? of women's college soccer. Not only has Raquel had an unbelievable collegiate career, but she has also grown as a national player, leading her country. This summer, Rocky led Costa Rica to their first birth in the Women's World Cup, while scoring their first World Cup Goal in team history- in fact, the first World Cup goal for all of Central America!
CONSISTENCY: There is no better demonstration of one's commitment and overall consistency to "bring it" each and every day than Raquel. She is committed to bettering herself and her teams through strength, conditioning and hard work. Rocky has had an unbelievable career. She has achieved more awards and recognition than any one person could ever hope or dream. However, there is no award she has ever deserved more than this Hammer Strength All-American Award.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Raquel's Growing List of Accolades Collegiate Accolades: 2nd Overall Pick In 2016 NWSL Draft Team Captain (2015) Mac Hermann Trophy Winner (2015) NSCAA Scholar Player Of The Year (2015) Topdrawersoccer Player Of The Year (2015) Topdrawersoccer Best Xi First Team (2015) Honda Sport Award Winner (2015) NSCAA Scholar All-America First Team (2015) Most Outstanding Player On Offense Of The Women's College Cup (2015) Women's College Cup All-Tournament Team (2015) NSCAA First Team All-American (2015) Cosida Academic All-District Two First Team (2015) CONCACAF Female Player Of The Year Nominee (2014, 2015) NSCAA Scholar All-America Second Team (2014) NSCAA All-Great Lakes First Team (2014, 2015) NSCAA All-Great Lakes Third Team (2012, 2013) Women's College Boot Supporter's Choice (2014) Big Ten Distinguished Scholar (2014) Big Ten Midfielder Of The Year (2014) Big Ten Freshman Of The Year (2012) All-Big Ten First Team (2014, 2015) All-Big Ten Second Team (2012) All-Big Ten Freshman Team (2012) Academic All-Big Ten (2013, 2014, 2015) National Team Accolades: Scored first goal ever for Costa Rica's U17 National Team in the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup, New Zealand. Scored first goal ever for Costa Rica's Full National Team in the FIFA 2015 Canada Women's World Cup. Current top goal scorer for Costa Rican Women's National Team. Nominated for CONCACAF Player of the Year for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2014 (only amateur player between the nominees) and 2015. Named part of CONCACAF Best XI, 2015 National record of most goals scored in a qualifier game, scoring 6 against Honduras (9-0), in the U-20 World Cup Unicaf Qualifiers.
Virginia Commonwealth University's male nomination for the Hammer Strength All American award is Jimmy Kerrigan, VCU Baseball's center fielder. Jimmy, a senior from Philadelphia, PA is an Exercise Science Major who plans on becoming a Strength and Conditioning Coach beginning with an internship at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jimmy's college career started off at Temple University. After rounding out his sophomore year with a .300 batting average Jimmy received devastating news that Temple would no longer maintain their Baseball program. Many athletes would have decided to hang up their cleats. Jimmy pushed on. He knew he had hit well against the Rams batting .500 against in two years so he reached out to the coaching staff. Jimmy joined the Rams in 2014. It was clear that Jimmy had made the right choice by the end of his junior year at VCU when they made it to the first Super Regional in school history.
Jimmy has maintained a .300 batting average over his four-year career and was named as one of Perfect Game?s top 100 Seniors prior to the 2016 season.
During a tight game it is not out of the norm for Jimmy to bring the team together for a rally or positive words. He is also the first one to hold his teammates accountable for their mistakes or lack of action.
Jimmy has a never say die attitude and never backs down even in the face of that unachievable last rep of the last set. He embodies what most players strive to be in the weight room but seldom achieve it if not for anything else other than self-preservation.
Jimmy's tireless work ethic has paid off as he has increased his back squat from 365 to 485 in the last 18 months. At the same time he has increased his dumbbell press five-rep max from 110 to 120 all the while maintaining 6% body fat.
Jimmy, a firm believer in the "no days off principle" stays in work mode. If he is not lifting to get stronger he is in the batting cages. If you can't find him in either place he is sure to be found at the field getting in extra reps. He is the fist person to check in on his teammates to make sure they are doing their work to get better. His motivation: Friends, family, teammates and that there is always room to get better no matter what. Without a doubt he brings the most energy to the room and anyone would feel the need to work harder when being around Jimmy.
This above all else is why Jimmy Kerrigan deserves the Hammer Strength All American athlete Award. He won't rest on his own accomplishment; he will keep working until he has brought his teammates along with him. Jimmy is the prime example of leading by example.