SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo University Department of Athletics paid tribute to the 27th Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day Thursday evening on University Campus, honoring current NCAA Director of Division II Terri Steeb-Gronau with the Saint Leo Women in Sport Achievement Award.
Saint Leo, which has one of the longest-running Girls and Women in Sports Day celebrations in the state of Florida, honored Steeb-Gronau as the 18th recipient of the award. Along with honoring Steeb-Gronau, the Department of Athletics celebrated the hard work and dedication Saint Leo female student-athletes put into their academics and respective athletic programs day in and day out.
The celebration included the presentation of the Saint Leo University Dining Services Scholarships, awarded to one female student-athlete from each varsity team. The scholarships this year were awarded to Keishara Green (Women’s Basketball), Allison Knipe (Cross Country), Heather Petronis (Women’s Golf), Cassie Miller (Women’s Lacrosse), Jackie Carey (Softball), Katy McGee (Women’s Soccer), Kaitlyn Hite (Women’s Swimming), Samantha White (Women’s Tennis), and Tawni Warren (Volleyball).
The final award for the evening, the Elaine Evans Spirit of Saint Leo Award, was bestowed upon women’s basketball player Chelsea Connelly.
Formerly the Spirit of Saint Leo Award, the honor was renamed the Elaine Evans Spirit of Saint Leo Award in 2004 after the untimely passing of women’s basketball player Elaine Evans. The honor is presented annually to a female student-athlete for her contributions to the community, and is presented to an individual who goes above and beyond what is asked of her while showing the true spirit of the University’s core values. Connelly earning the award marks the first time a women’s basketball player has been selected since the passing of Evans.
When asked about Connelly, Saint Leo women’s basketball head coach Nikki Jessee said, “Any time I tell her she can’t do something, she proves me wrong. She is the most determined individual I have ever met. If I had to choose one player I can count on over anyone else, she would be the one.”
On National Girls and Women in Sports Day, thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic directors, recreation directors, association members, sponsors, students, and parents across the country show their support of the Day and of this year's theme, "Girls in Sports, and Investment in the Future." It is through various scholarships and awards that Saint Leo honors and thanks those who have made a lasting impact on women’s sports for years to come.