June 25, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Kerri Hanks, a four-time women’s soccer All-American at Notre Dame and two-time recipient of the sport’s prestigious Hermann Trophy, is one of five finalists for a 2009 ESPY Award in the category of “Best Female College Athlete,” ESPN announced Thursday. The ESPN-sponsored ESPY Awards program covers athletic accomplishments during the 2008-09 season, with the winners determined through online voting at www.espys.tv and mobile voting at www.espn.mobi. Voting will run from Thursday through July 11, with the ESPYs (hosted by veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson) to be taped at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on July 15 before airing on ESPN and ESPNHD on July 19 at 9 p.m. ET.
Hanks is expected to attend the ceremony along with the other noteworthy nominees for the various ESPY Awards, which honor the commitment and partnership between ESPN and The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a bond that was formed at the inaugural ESPYs in 1993 by the late Jim Valvano. A one-hour ESPYs nomination/preview show will air Friday (June 26) at 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
This marks the third time in the past five years that a Notre Dame women’s soccer player has been nominated for an ESPY Award as “Best Female College Athlete,” with Hanks being tabbed a finalist in 2006-07, while former Irish forward Katie Thorlakson was a 2004-05 nominee.
Joining Hanks on the list of this year’s ESPY Award nominees for “Best Female College Athlete” are Georgia gymnast Courtney Kupets, Washington softball pitcher Danielle Lawrie, Connecticut basketball forward Maya Moore and California swimmer Dana Vollmer.
Back in December, Hanks became the fourth woman ever to earn the Hermann Trophy twice, joining North Carolina’s Mia Hamm (1992-93) and Cindy Parlow (1997-98), as well as Portland’s Christine Sinclair (2003-04). Hanks also was the first male or female to receive the award in non-consecutive years (she first took home the crystal ball trophy in 2006), and she is the first two-time national player of the year honoree in any sport in the 122-year history of Notre Dame athletics. In addition, it was the fourth time an Irish women’s soccer player was tapped for the Hermann Trophy, with Cindy Daws (1996) and Anne Makinen (2000) in that select company.
Hanks put together another signature season in 2008, as the only NCAA Division I player to rank among the top five in the nation in total goals (5th – 20), assists (3rd – 15) and points (2nd – 55). Additionally, she was the only player in the country to finish with at least 20 goals and 15 assists, as well as one of just two to place among the top 11 in the NCAA in goal, assist and point averages. All of this despite the fact she missed the semifinals and final of the BIG EAST Conference Championship (won by Notre Dame) with a knee injury suffered in a quarterfinal win over Cincinnati.
After leading the conference in virtually every meaningful offensive statistical category this season, it was no surprise the league’s coaches selected Hanks as the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in three years. She also was a unanimous first-team all-conference choice, her fourth consecutive all-BIG EAST citation, and she broke new ground by being a four-time BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week (pushing her career total to a record-setting eight selections).
Hanks tucked even more hardware in her trophy case this season as a seven-time national team of the week selection by either Soccer America (three times) or Top Drawer Soccer (four times). She also was chosen as the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Inn at Saint Mary’s Soccer Classic and earned a place on the NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team after scoring just 16 seconds into the national championship match against North Carolina, setting yet another record in the process.
During her four-year career at Notre Dame, the Irish posted a 92-10-3 (.890) record, winning three BIG EAST titles (2005, 2006, 2008) and advancing to the NCAA College Cup three times (2006-08), including the national championship match twice (2006 and 2008). This season, Hanks helped Notre Dame raise the bar even higher, as the Irish reeled off a school-record 26 consecutive victories to open the campaign, soaring to No. 1 in the national polls for the majority of the year.
The 23rd Division I player to be a four-year National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-American (the past three as a first-team selection), Hanks is the holder (or co-holder) of an astounding 67 records in the Notre Dame, BIG EAST Conference or NCAA record books, while also earning a place among the top 25 on 10 NCAA single-season or career lists. She is the only Division I women’s player ever to amass at least 73 goals and 73 assists in her career, finishing with 84 goals and 73 assists in her storied tenure with the Irish from 2005-08. In fact, only two other players have even reached 70 goals and 70 assists in their careers — Hamm (103G-72A) and Notre Dame’s Jenny Streiffer (70G-71A from 1996-99).
Hanks originally enrolled at Notre Dame for the spring 2005 term, deferring her entry to the University for a semester in order to compete with the United States U-19 World Championship Team that earned a bronze medal in Thailand — U.S. Soccer had required team members to miss the entire 2004 college season in order to compete. Nevertheless, Hanks stayed committed to her academic obligations and went on to graduate one semester early in May 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters before beginning graduate studies this past fall.
The combination of Hanks’ on-field dominance, as well as her character, sportsmanship and academic success did not go unrecognized. During the NCAA College Cup in Cary, N.C., Hanks was presented with the 2008 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, becoming the first Irish women’s soccer player to earn the coveted prize.
She also learned on June 17 that she had been nominated by the University for the 2009 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which honors senior student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. Nominees represent all three divisions. In order to be eligible for the award, female student-athletes must have completed intercollegiate eligibility in her primary sport by the end of the 2009 spring season, graduated no later than the end of the summer 2009 term, and achieved a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5. The top 10 semifinalists for that honor in each division will be determined in August, with three finalists per division to be named in September. The 19th annual NCAA Woman of the Year honor is slated to be presented Oct. 18 at a banquet in Indianapolis.
In January, Hanks was selected in the first round of the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Draft, going to Saint Louis Athletica with the sixth overall pick. She has appeared in 10 matches and started six times for Saint Louis during her rookie professional season, registering her first career goal on Wednesday night in a 2-1 home loss to the Los Angeles Sol, while also adding an assist earlier this year at Washington. She also is third on the team in total shots (15) and shots on goal (6), helping Athletica to a 4-5-2 record, (14 points) currently good for fourth place in the WPS standings.
— ND —