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Tuesday May 26, 2009Softball's Nelson Wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Oklahoma City, Okla.

No. 1/1 University of Florida senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) was presented with the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award on Tuesday at the Party in the Park in Oklahoma City, Okla.  Nelson became the first Gator to receive the honor and the fifth Southeastern Conference student-athlete.


The CLASS Award stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.  The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages those leaders to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact.  To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: Classroom, Character, Community, and Competition. 


“I am extremely honored to be the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award recipient,” Nelson said.  “Just to be considered was an honor and to come out on top is something I never dreamed of.  I want to thank all the people who have been here for me in my collegiate career.  I want to thank the University of Florida for the opportunity and tools to allow me to excel in the classroom and reach out in the community.  I want to thank the UF softball program for giving me the opportunity to play softball and to the Lowe's Senior Class Award committee for giving me the chance to be a part of this great award.”


The two-time All-American pitcher leads the nation with a 0.41 ERA and is second with 20 shutouts and 39 victories.  She earned SEC Pitcher of the Year, All-SEC first-team and SEC All-Defensive team accolades for the second year in a row.  The right-hander has collected 134 career wins, which is seventh best all-time in the NCAA and second best in SEC history.  She also owns 24 records in Florida history.


In the classroom, the philosophy major has been a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll every year of her career.  She earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first-team honors in 2008, becoming the first UF softball player to be named to the first team and the first to earn athletic and academic All-America first-team status.  She has a chance to repeat the feat this season as she is eligible for academic All-American after being named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 3 first team.  Her ambition is to attend law school where she would like to study humanitarian law and work for the International Criminal Court. 


Nelson’s list of extra-curricular activities and community service rivals her list of athletic achievements.  A representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), she was a co-chairman of Climb for Cancer, which gives children with cancer a chance to play sports with UF student-athletes.  She also has spent time at various elementary schools in the Gainesville area, reading to children and being a mentor. 


As a member of the softball team, Nelson helped build a home for a local family through Habitat for Humanity and has spent the last four holiday seasons delivering sneakers to children through the UAA’s Gator Tracks program.  She was also the main attraction at the first annual Swing for Cancer event, in which fans came to see other Gator student-athletes and coaches try their luck against the pitcher.  The money raised went to UF’s Shands Cancer Research Hospital being built across the street from campus.


Nelson also worked to send positive messages to the youth of the area she lives and plays in.  She recorded a television commercial for Smoke Free Florida, explaining she does not smoke or chew tobacco and visited local schools as part of the Red Ribbon campaign to teach children the dangers of drugs.  While on campus, Nelson participated in the White Out Cancer event, handing out white hats for football fans to wear in support of “Whiting Out Cancer.”  She also collected canned goods from fans as part of SAAC’s season-long initiative, Gators Canned Good Challenge for Kids, which collected a record-breaking amount of canned food to donate to the Gainesville community. 


Combining her love of learning and community service, Nelson also helped with an oral history project in the fall of 2008 through UF.  She interviewed participants of the Freedom Summer of 1964.  She questioned the people of Indianola, Miss., about their first voting experience and their struggle to obtain that right. 


“This is a tremendous honor for Stacey, for our softball program and for the University of Florida,” Head coach Tim Walton said.  “Stacey truly exemplifies what it means to be a class act on and off the field.  On behalf of the entire softball program, I want to thank Lowe's for recognizing a great person.”


2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award All-Senior All-America First Team

Whitney Haller, Georgia Tech

Stacey Nelson, University of Florida

Amber Patton, DePaul University

Brittany Rogers, University of Alabama

Tammy Williams, Northwestern University.


2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award All-Senior All-America Second Team

Lillian Hammond, University of Tennessee

Jenae Leles, University of Arizona

Jessica Mapes, Arizona State University

Missy Penna, Stanford University

Samantha Ricketts, University of Oklahoma


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