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Joanna Mather was the Co-Female recipient of the SEC Sportsmanship Award

Tuesday June 5, 2012UF Women's Tennis' Joanna Mather Named one of three 2012 SEC Sportsmanship Award Recipients


Joanna Mather was the Co-Female recipient of the SEC Sportsmanship Award

University of Florida senior tennis student-athlete Joanna Mather, University of Georgia junior soccer player Laura Eddy and University of Arkansas senior tennis player Matt Walters are recipients of the 5th annual SEC Sportsmanship Award, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Tuesday.  The winners will be forwarded for nomination to the NCAA for its national sportsmanship awards, to be announced in July.


The two were chosen by a vote of the SEC Directors of Athletics.  Mather and Eddy are co-recipients of the female award and Walters is the recipient of the male honor.


 “Demonstrating good sportsmanship is something that will benefit student-athletes for years after their athletic careers are completed,” said Slive.  “Participation in sports teaches life’s lessons that benefit all who takes part in it.  I congratulate Joanna, Laura and Matt for showing good sportsmanship and earning this prestigious honor.”


Mather was voted the recipient of the 2012 ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award and the 2011 Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Southeast Region Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to a player who “displays inspiring dedication and commitment to her team, which has enhanced her team’s performance and exemplified the spirit of college tennis.” 


The Duluth, Ga. native was team captain of the 2011 & 2012 Gator squads, leading both to NCAA Championships.  She was the only junior on a 2011 team with no seniors yet played the No. 2 position just once and the No. 3 spot four times.  On the nomination form, it states, “Two sophomores and a freshman filled the courts in front of her, but not once did she complain and become upset with the coaches about their lineup decisions.”


“In all my years of coaching, there has never been a player more deserving of this award than Joanna Mather,” UF head coach Roland Thornqvist said. “She is one of the few people who can touch everyone in the locker room without saying a lot of words. She is a player on the court that will play the most ‘out’ balls because she’s unsure they are out. I’ve never seen Joanna be confrontational in a match. She’s always a class act to her teammates, her opponents and to the umpires. She’s a great student who graduated on May 5, 2012. She’s a poster-child for this award.


“She’s been our MVP for three years,” Thornqvist continued. “I’m just very pleased to see that she was named the 2012 SEC Tournament MVP her senior year.  It sort of rubber stamps her career I think.  But she’s been our MVP for three years. During her freshman year, even though we were decimated with mistakes and injuries, we established a work ethic and a mentality in ‘09 that fortunately stuck with us. We had to work hard. We had to work smart. We had to play with injuries just to field a team. That sense of urgency and hard-nosed, come-to-practice-everyday attitude stayed with us ever since. And it’s largely because of Joanna. She’s been the catalyst.”


Despite being sidelined for the entirety of the 2011 season due to a preseason ACL injury, Eddy was a crucial element of this year’s Bulldog soccer team.


The Duluth, Ga. native, normally an on-field leader, learned how to be an off-field leader and a positive example to her teammates as she went through rehab. According to the nomination form, “Laura is a model of the player and person we want representing Georgia soccer.  She carries herself with class, grace and dignity.  She is a tremendous leader for the team.”


Walters was a team captain of the Razorback tennis squad and the team representative to Arkansas’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  This fall, during a tournament held at Rice University, he had his sportsmanship moment competing against LSU’s Matt Zachary.  With the score 4-2, Walters won the next point to make the score 5-2.  However, Zachary thought the score was 6-2 and was set to concede the game.  Walters had to convince Zachary that the game was indeed not over, and the two proceeded to finish the game.  He subsequently lost the match to Zachary.


The Jonesboro, Ark. native was voted his team’s Sportsmanship Award recipient for 11-12.  According to the nomination form, “Matt Walters is true Razorback and consistently exhibited this type of behavior throughout his career. “


Last year, South Carolina track and field athlete Louis Day and the Ole Miss Softball team were recipients of the SEC Sportsmanship Award.  Day went on to become the recipient of the NCAA Sportsmanship Award. 


Below is a list of SEC Sportsmanship recipients:


2012 – Matt Walters, Arkansas (Tennis); Joanna Mather, Florida (Tennis); Laura Eddy, Georgia (Soccer)

2011 – Louis Day, South Carolina (Track & Field); Ole Miss Softball Team

2010 – Rodney Scott, Ole Miss (Football); Sam Arbaugh, South Carolina (Softball)

2009 – Dorian Ulrey, Arkansas (Track & Field); Alabama Women’s Tennis Team

2008 – Chris Lofton, Tennessee (Basketball); Jessica Yadloczky, Florida (Golf)



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