MOUNT PLEASANT - The stage of Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium was graced by numerous Central Michigan athletics award winners throughout the second annual CHIPYS award show Sunday evening, but the biggest winner of all on the night wasn't a Chippewa athlete – it was the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
More than $5,000 was raised for the V Foundation as a result of the CMU spin-off of the ESPYS award show hosted by ESPN, including donations from Putting for a Cure and the CMU Sports Management Association of $3,305.36 and $250, respectively. The event was attended by approximately 650 athletes, administrators, coaches, family members and other Chippewas athletics supporters.
Last year's event raised $2,100 for the Jimmy V Foundation.
"It is important for us to come together and raise as much money as we can," co-organizer, co-host and senior baseball player Sam Russell said. "That's the most important goal. There are plenty of people in here who have been affected by cancer, and to raise money for that is a very important thing."
The award show was planned by CMU baseball players Russell and junior Reid Rooney, and sponsored by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Special Olympics, the Detroit Tigers, and the Detroit Red Wings.
"I think everything went great," Russell said. "It's a time to celebrate the cool things we do, and not everyone gets to see every team during their seasons."
In addition to various awards being presented by CMU athletes to fellow Chippewa athletes (see below for a complete list of winners), the show also featured an award presentation by former first-round NFL Draft pick T.J. Duckett, a video skit in which Russell and Rooney take over Athletics Director Dave Heeke's job and wreak havoc in the Athletics Department, and video highlights of all the nominees for each award.
New to this year's show were the scholar-athlete award and the Phil Kaiser Family Courage Award, awarded to women's basketball player Kaihla Szunko and football player Armond Staten, respectively.
Founded in honor of Rooney's close friend and Bradley University baseball player Phil Kaiser, who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 21 last October, the Phil Kaiser Family Courage Award was created to recognize and honor an athlete who has demonstrated exceptional courage and integrity throughout his life.
"Phil was and still is one of the best human beings I ever have had the privilege to interact with, so I feel compelled to try and live like he did along with telling people his story to make them appreciate life every single day," Rooney, who was visibly emotional during his presentation of the award, said after the show. "Armond Staten has had one of the most courageous life stories and I think that it's important for the athletics community to recognize him, his success, and how far he's come with the help of his 'brothers' on the the football team."
Duckett presented the award to Staten and gave a brief speech about not only excelling on the field, but in life.
"Every day you practice, practice to help others. Practice to put others first, practice for the feelings and thoughts of others," he said during his speech. "When the play is there, you will make the play and be someone else's highlight forever."
2011 CHIPYS Award Winners
Best Game – Baseball vs. Western Michigan (5/27/10)
Best Play – Jenna Coates, Lisa Johnson (volleyball) kicked ball over the net vs. Bowling Green (10/15/10)
Breakthrough Athlete – Cody Wilson, football
Coach of the Year – Tom Borrelli, wrestling
Best Championship Performance – Kevin Mays, track and field
Best Record-Breaking Performance – Molly Coldren, softball
Comeback Player of the Year – Brandie Baker, women's basketball
Scholar-Athlete Award – Kaihla Szunko, women's basketball
Freshman of the Year – Trey Zeigler, men's basketball
Phil Kaiser Family Courage Award – Armond Staten, football
Best Female Athlete – Kristin Teubner, gymnastics
Best Male Athlete – Nick Bellore, football
Best Team - Gymnastics