2017 Award Winners

2017 Lauren Hill Courage Award

Emma Savarese, Ursuline Academy

She began swimming at age 7, competing for the Sycamore Flying Fish and Cincinnati Marlins. She swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco at age 15, placing first in her age group, first in the women’s division and fifth overall. She was a three time varsity swimmer for Ursuline Academy, third in the GGCL two consecutive years, three-time District qualifier and State qualifier. She has accomplished all this, despite facing 23 surgeries as a result of being born with a rare birth defect that left her with a short femur bone, associated with hip, knee, and ankle deformities. She has undergone intense physical therapy in Florida while ignoring doctors who recommended amputating her left foot. She continues to work as a Special Olympics volunteer and as a volunteer coach for Five Seasons Sharks.


2017 Inspirational Story of the Year

Tori Doss, Xavier University

With Xavier’s soccer team, Tori appeared in all 19 matches this year, starting in eight. She finished second on the team in goals and third in points. During her time at Xavier University, Tori became involved with Athletes in Action’s “Puerto Rico Project” where representatives traveled to Puerto Rico in 2014 and met with athletic directors and university officials to organize a training camp. She also met with local universities in Puerto Rico to start Athletes in Action clubs on campus. She was one of four finalists nationally for the Wooden Citizenship Cup, awarded by Athletes For A Better World. She carries a 3.99 GPA with a double major in biology and chemistry and is headed to medical school.


2017 Lifetime of Service to Women’s Sports Award

Iris Simpson Bush, Flying Pig Marathon

Iris Simpson Bush has been with the Flying Pig since its inception in a number of capacities, from board member to executive director. She has helped lead the “Pig” from a novelty themed marathon to a weekend sports festival that now is the 15th largest in the country. Along the way Iris has made sure the Marathon gives back to the community, helping charities and non-profits raise more than a million dollars each of the last five years. And she has worked to give women and girls the chance to participate in a race of the own, founding the Queen Bee Half Marathon and 4-Mile event in the fall with an emphasis on female runners and female-centric charities. Iris is a national advocate for running and serves on the board of directors of Running USA.

2017 Donna DeVarona Spirit Award

Bill Keating Jr.

We pay tribute tonight to Bill Keating, Jr., who lost his battle to cancer earlier this month. Keating's ties to the University of Cincinnati run deep as he not only has helped to further opportunities for girls and women in the area, but he also competed for the UC swim team in the mid-1970s and was inducted into the James P. Kelly UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UCATS Order of the Black Blazer in 2007. A two-time team captain, Keating qualified for the NCAA Championships all four years and helped the Bearcats to four-consecutive league titles. The Jimmy Nippert Award recipient as most outstanding senior male student-athlete, Keating left UC with seven school and five conference records to his name. A lawyer by training, Keating spent his career at KMK Law, was active in the girls and women’s sports community in the Greater Cincinnati area for more than 35 years, including a committee member of the Cincinnati Women’s Sports Association annual dinner. He worked with both UC and Xavier to sell out the women's Crosstown Shootout and chaired an effort to retroactively award varsity letters former female student-athletes at UC. Bill’s wife, Joan, and his daughters, Caroline and Liz, are here this evening to accept the honor.

2017 Business of the Year

St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Providing a variety of services for active individuals and athletes, St. Elizabeth Healthcare serves the Northern Kentucky communities of Edgewood, Florence and Southgate with numerous partnerships with schools and sports teams. St. Elizabeth Healthcare is the corporate sponsor for the Kentucky girls’ high school basketball tournament which was held in Northern Kentucky for the first time in 2016 when the sport was reinstated by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA).The tournament was hosted in March at BB&T Arena on the campus of Northern Kentucky University.

2017 Master Sportswoman of the Year

Marcia Yager

As a Crossfit Level 1 instructor, Marcia earned first place in Crossfit Open Competition for this region in the women’s 60+ division in 2016 and 2017. This year, she also placed 11th worldwide in Crossfit open competition. Over her career, she served as the national inline skating coach for the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, raising more than $250,000 in 1997 through inline skating. She was a two time X-Game inline downhill speed skating participant, was a Master inline speed skating champion three years and is a member of the Roller Speed Skating Hall of Fame. In the community, Marcia volunteers for several non-profits, including the American Heart Association and American Lung Association as a training coach for the Carew Tower Climb, and coaches Special Olympians in roller skating.


2017 Huisman Administrator of the Year

Susan Lipnickey, Xavier University

Susan Lipnickey joined Xavier as Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Welfare and Senior Woman Administrator in 2014. She came to Xavier from Miami University, where she served in multiple roles on and off campus, including as an Associate Professor in Miami's Department of Kinesiology and Health. She also served as the school's NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative. Nationally, she is involved at the NCAA level, serving on the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee since 2006 and the Division I Leadership Council since 2008.


2017 College Coach of the Year (Track & Field)

Susan Seaton, University of Cincinnati

Coach Seaton led her track and field team to a 21st place at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the best finish in program history and the first time a UC team has placed in the Top 25 nationally. UC’s women’s team finished second at the conference indoor championships for the second year in a row and won the 2016 Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship, the first Conference team title in program history. Coach Seaton is a member of the 2016 American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Coaching Staff of the year and has seen her athletes break school records in 44 events, indoor and outdoor combined.


2017 High School Coach of the Year (Track & Field/Cross Country)

Tony Harden, St. Henry High School

Coach Harden’s cross country teams were first in the NKAC for the 12th year in a row, a Northern Kentucky record for any division; first in the regionals f or the 15th time in a row, again, a Northern Kentucky record, and first in state, the first girls’ team in any class to win six in a row, and the 19th in school history. In track, Coach Harden’s teams won their fifth straight Indoor State Championship, was Conference champion, won their fifth consecutive Regional championship and was state runner-up. The Cross Country State title was Coach Harden’s 12th State Championship. Away from the track Coach Harden leads the Cross Country team in a breast cancer awareness walk in Campbell County and encourages students to be lifetime runners and role models.


High School Honorees

2017 High School Player of the Year: Softball

Elle Buffenbarger, Mason High School


2017 High School Player of the Year: Volleyball

Hayley Bush, Ryle High School

2017 High School Player of the Year: Track & Field

J’Alyiea Smith, Withrow High School

2017 High School Player of the Year: Cross Country

Samantha Bush, Turpin High School


2017 High School Player of the Year: Soccer

Sophie Gorman, McNicholas High School


2017 High School Player of the Year: Basketball

Allyson Niece, Simon Kenton High School 


2017 High School Player of the Year: Swimming

Allison Bloebaum, Mason High School


2017 High School Player of the Year: Golf

Natalia Sompolvorachal, Lakota West High School


2017 High School Player of the Year: Tennis

Emily Thomas, Princeton High School


2017 High School Player of the Year: Bowling

Audrey Wilson, Seven Hills


Collegiate Honorees

2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Basketball

Abby Owings, Thomas More College

2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Diving

Pei Lin, Miami University


2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Softball

Taylor Shuey, Miami University                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Soccer

Laura Felix, Thomas More College


2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Swimming

Jacqueline Keire, University of Cincinnati


2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Tennis

Sydney Liggins, Xavier University


2017 Collegiate Player of the Year: Track & Field

Annette Echikunwoke, University of Cincinnati

Jordan Thompson, University of Cincinnati