Big Ten Freshman of the Year Vanessa DiBernardo is one of eight talented finalists.
May 23, 2011
The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) has announced the following eight women as finalists for the 2011 Female Newcomer of the Year. The group was honored at the annual Scholar-Athlete Reception on May 3rd in the Colonnades Club at Memorial Stadium. The winner of the award will be chosen after the spring seasons are concluded in mid-June.
2011 Illinois Female Newcomer of the Year finalists:
Jennifer Bonilla, volleyball
Alex Booker, softball
Vanessa DiBernardo, soccer
Amber Moore, basketball
Stephanie Morgan, track & field
Courtney Pope, swimming & diving
Ember Schuldt, golf
Amber See, gymnastics
Jennifer Bonilla knows how to be successful. Bonilla put together one of the most memorable rookie seasons in Illini volleyball history. Her 623 digs broke the Illinois' all-time single-season record and she was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in addition to being an honorable mention All-Mideast Region selection. Bonilla was Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times, and her 32 digs vs. Wisconsin are tied for sixth-best by an Illinois player in a single-match in school history. She ranked second overall in the Big Ten in digs with 4.83 digs per set.
Versatility is a great word to describe softball player Alex Booker. She has rotated around the diamond all season, playing center field, pinch hitting, serving as a designated player, and pinch running. Booker appeared in 47 games for the Illini, starting 22 of them. She batted .209 and committed only one error on the season. Her 22 runs scored ranked fifth on the team, which is an admirable statistic considering she started less than half of the team's games and had only 67 at bats.
Soccer star Vanessa DiBernardo made a habit of re-writing record books during her inaugural season with the Illini. Her 11 goals ranked first in the Big Ten and were the most goals for an Illini player since the 2007 season. Her 27 points also led the Big Ten conference. DeBernardo also broke Illinois school records for most goals in a half (3), most points in a half (6), most goals in a game (4) and most points in a game (8). Her outstanding performance led to her being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Big First Team NSCAA All-Great Lakes, Top Drawer All-Rookie Second Team and Soccer News Net Women's Player of the Year Finalist.
Women's basketball redshirt freshman Amber Moore enjoyed a successful season on the hardwood, averaging 9.1 points per game and breaking the Illinois freshman record for threes made in a season with 65, a total that ranks as the fifth-most all-time at Illinois. She was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team after leading all Big-Ten freshman in free-throw percentage (.920) and ranking second in three-pointers made and third in scoring and assists among league rookies.
Stephanie Morgan, a first-year transfer from Baylor, has had a huge impact on the Illinois Women's Track & Field team. At the Big Ten Indoor Championships, Morgan ran a personal best 2:08.02 to take second in the 800m, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors in the process. She would go on to break her own PR by running a blistering 2:07.44, the fourth-fast indoor 800m time in school history. During outdoors, Morgan eclipsed a 20-year old Drake Relays record in her 1500m victory, clocking a 4:15.90. She finished fourth in the event at the Big Ten Championships and is set to compete at the NCAA West Regional this weekend. Morgan also earned All-Midwest Region honors during the Illini Cross Country season.
In the pool is where Courtney Pope made her mark. During the 2011 Big Ten Championships, Pope became the first freshman in coach Sue Novitsky's 17 years at Illinois to anchor four relays at the Championships; all four relay teams finished with times that rank in the top ten of Illini history books. Individually, Pope placed 32nd in the 200 Freestyle, while her time ranks 9th in Illinois history. She also earned an NCAA "B" Qualifying Standard as a member of the 400 Freestyle Relay.
Golfer Ember Schuldt had an outstanding freshman season for the Fighting Illini. She ranked third on the team in stroke average (77.17) and was Illinois' top finisher in five tournaments. Her top overall finish was a tie for seventh at the Memphis Women's Invitational and her low round of 67 was the best round by an Illini golfer all season and tied for the second-best single-round score in school history. She helped Illinois qualify for NCAA Regional play for just the third time in school history.
Amber See helped the Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team enjoy one of its best seasons in school history. She won the individual vault title at the Big Ten Championships with a score of 9.900 and also tied for fourth on the floor at the Big Tens with a 9.900. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice, and she earned five event titles on the season, four on vault and one on floor. See helped Illinois advance to the NCAA Championships as a team for just the second time ever, where she competed on three events and helped the team to an 11th place finish, the best in school history.