July 16, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In May 1999, Danielle Green and Shannon Boxx crossed the stage minutes apart during commencement exercises at the University of Notre Dame. More than 16 years later, the two former Fighting Irish student-athletes once again shared the same stage, this time for accomplishments that stretched far beyond the academic and athletic arenas.
Green and Boxx both were honored during Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, with Green taking home the second annual Pat Tillman Award for Service, while Boxx and the United States Women’s Soccer Team garnered the Best Team of the Year award. Another former Notre Dame student-athlete, Skylar Diggins (’13), was not able to be in attendance to receive her ESPY Award as the Best WNBA Player.
Notre Dame freshman cross country/track & field runner Anna Rohrer (Mishawaka, Ind./Mishawaka) did attend the 23rd annual sports awards show on Wednesday as a finalist for the Gatorade National Female High School Athlete of the Year honor. Rohrer earned the 2015 Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award and won her second national title in three years at the 2014 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, having previously taken the top spot in 2012.
One of the spotlight award recipients during an emotional evening, Green is a former Notre Dame women’s basketball guard who later enlisted in the U.S. Army. In May 2004, she suffered significant injuries, including the amputation of her left hand and numerous shrapnel wounds, during a grenade attack while serving in Baghdad, Iraq, with the 571st MP Company. Green was one of the first female casualties during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Green, who later earned the Purple Heart for injuries suffered in combat and now works with returning veterans as a readjustment counselor in South Bend, received this year’s Pat Tillman Award for Service from Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry. The honor, created in 2014 by the Pat Tillman Foundation, is named for the late Arizona State University and Arizona Cardinals football player who set aside his career to enlist in the U.S. Army before being killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan in April 2004, one month before Green was injured.
“It’s such an honor to receive an award named after Pat Tillman,” Green said during her ESPY Awards acceptance speech Wednesday night. “There are a lot of lessons people like Pat and I learned in sports and a lot of lessons we learned in the service. Maybe the most powerful lessons are the common goals, the loyalty, teamwork, selflessness and commitment that individuals show one another.
“If my story leaves you with one thing tonight, I hope it leaves you with a challenge,” Green added. “Ask yourself: What’s my purpose? What’s my passion? What do I want my legacy to be? How can I live as a full human being? Not all of us are Pat Tillman, but we can all find ways to serve our community. We can all find ways to support the people around us. We can all find a purpose on this Earth larger than ourselves.”
Boxx and the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team continue to celebrate their third FIFA Women’s World Cup title, thanks to a 5-2 win over Japan in the championship match July 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Boxx is the second Notre Dame women’s soccer alumna to earn a World Cup gold medal, following in the footsteps of her former Fighting Irish and U.S. teammate Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98), who was a member of the last American squad to raise the Women’s World Cup trophy in 1999.
Boxx and her teammates also electrified a worldwide audience, particularly in the United States, where the Fox Sports television broadcast drew more than 25 million viewers, making it the most watched soccer match in American television history. What’s more, the Women’s World Cup final earned a 15.2 Nielsen rating, exceeding the average viewership from this year’s NBA Finals and approximating the marks for Game 7 of the 2014 World Series and both semifinal games in the inaugural College Football Playoff on New Year’s Day 2015.
Diggins, who earned her second consecutive WNBA All-Star Game starting assignment for the Western Conference earlier this week, earned first-team all-WNBA honors last season and was the league’s Most Improved Player in 2014. This season, she earned WNBA Player of the Month accolades for June after ranking second among Western Conference players in scoring (17.8 points per game) and three-point field-goal percentage (.448 on 13-of-29 from behind the arc), and fourth in assists (5.0 assists per game). She also tied for fifth in the conference in steals (1.56 steals per game) and was sixth in free-throw percentage (.918, 45-of-49).
Diggins will miss the remainder of the 2015 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee during a home game against the Seattle Storm on June 28.
— Chris Masters, Athletics Communications Associate Director