Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Five University of Albany Athletes Are Recipients of Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award

Albany, N.Y. - State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher recently announced five University at Albany student-athletes are recipients of the Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award for academic excellence and outstanding athletic achievement. Chris Simpson (football), Valerie Sourbeer (volleyball), Valete Graham (track & field), Leah McIntosh (softball) and Nikki Branchini (lacrosse) were recognized.

Simpson, a senior inside linebacker from Victor, N.Y., has a 3.97 cumulative grade point average in physics. He is a member of UAlbany's 3+2 engineering program. He will receive his undergraduate degree from UAlbany next month and will also earn a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in May 2011. He has been a research assistant in the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering. He was named the 2009 Northeast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the sport of football. Simpson was fourth on the team in tackles (58) as an 11-game starter on a team that finished with a 7-4 record. He had a career-high 11 tackles in his team's upset of No. 20 Maine. He received the school's 2010 Presidential Scholar-Athlete Award.

Sourbeer, a senior outside hitter from Valley Center, Calif., was chosen the 2009 America East Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the sport of volleyball. She led her team to a 22-9 record and the conference's regular-season crown. The Great Danes were undefeated in regular-season play for the second year in a row. A first-team all-conference standout, Sourbeer ranked fifth among the league leaders in both kills per game (3.09) and hitting percentage (.270). She made her second consecutive appearance on the America East all-academic squad and received UAlbany's Outstanding Senior Leadership Award. Sourbeer, who has a 3.65 GPA in business administration, received an ECAC Merit Medal as the school's top senior female student-athlete.

Graham, who has a 3.71 cumulative GPA in psychology, assisted the men's track and field program in winning a conference-record fifth consecutive America East Conference indoor championship and sixth straight conference outdoor title. He finished first in the outdoor triple jump for the third year in a row to match a league record. The senior accumulated 18 points at the conference indoor meet by finishing first in the long jump with a leap of 23-feet, 6-inches and placing second in the triple jump. He also helped the Great Danes garner their second straight indoor IC4A championship by taking fourth in the long jump and ninth in the triple jump. A two-time conference all-academic selection, Graham was named the 2010 America East Indoor Track & Field Scholar Athlete of the Year. He earned an ECAC Merit Medal as the UAlbany's top senior male student-athlete.

McIntosh, a senior from Whitby, Ontario, was voted 2009 America East Conference Pitcher of the Year. She was named to the All-Northeast Region and All-ECAC first teams. She is currently the program's all-time leader in strikeouts (710), plus is second in victories (53), innings pitched (513.2) and complete games (57). McIntosh, who has six career no-hitters and a 1.97 earned run average, threw a national-best four perfect games as a junior when she led the conference in ERA for the second straight year. She was a member of the 2009 Canadian Senior National Team. An Alpha Pi Alpha Scholarship recipient, McIntosh has a 3.06 GPA in psychology.

Branchini, a junior defensive midfielder on the women's lacrosse team, has a 3.81 cumulative GPA in history with a dual minor in education and criminal justice. She is presently third among the NCAA Division I leaders in draw controls (5.1 pg), plus is sixth nationally in ground balls (3.4 pg) and 11th in caused turnovers (2.1 pg). Branchini also has 10 goals and three assists for a program that has won its first-ever America East Conference regular-season title. UAlbany has already set a school standard with a 13-2 record and is ranked No. 19 in the IWLCA national poll. She earned second-team All-Northeast Region and first-team all-conference honors last year. A Class of '84 Scholarship winner, Branchini was chosen to the 2009 America East All-Academic Lacrosse Team.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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