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ORU Recognizes Ultimate Whole Person Champions at All-Sports Banquet

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 04/23/2013
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TULSA, Okla.-The Oral Roberts Athletics Department held its annual All-Sports Banquet Monday night at the Southern Hills Marriott as the school year starts to wind down. At the event, ORU recognized six senior student-athletes as the Ultimate Whole Person Champions, the top award given.
Jack Whitt (track & field), John David James (men’s soccer), Lauren Parks (women’s soccer), Sheina Fernandes (volleyball) and women’s basketball players Kevi Luper and Jaci Bigham each earned the honor based on athletics, academics and community service.

The 2012 NCAA Outdoor Pole Vault National Champion, Whitt is a six-time NCAA All-American, a seven-time conference champion and was recently named the Southland Conference Indoor Track & Field Male Athlete of the Year. He has volunteered with Special Olympics, the Jenks Academic All-Stars and helped coach high school athletes. Whitt also serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

James was the 2012 Team Captain and was one of the top defenders on the team. He had six career goals and five career assists, including assisting the game-winning goal to send ORU to the Summit League Championship game in 2011. Off the pitch, James has participated on mission trips to South Africa, Louisiana and Texas and has volunteered with Special Olympics. He also spent time at a local children’s hospital with ORU Outreach and worked on campus at College Weekend. Like Whitt, James is a member of the SAAC.

With a 4.0 GPA and a Capital One Academic All-American, Fernandes was a first team All-Southland selection who posted the seventh-best single season hitting percentage and the sixth best single season block total in ORU history. She has worked at children’s hospitals, helped pack food for the hungry with the SIFE outreach project, and volunteered for the Friday Grocery program at GUTS Church. She also helps coach for Club One and is currently working as a teacher’s assistant in the ORU School of Business.

Parks earned all-conference and all-region honors during the season and was a two-time Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week. During her ORU career, she participated in a five-week mission trip to South Africa, where she worked with a local ministry to organize vacation Bible school and a soccer festival. She has also worked with the Invisible Children group, the Baby Safe Foundation, the Tulsa Dream Center and Good Samaritan program and serves as a Big Sister volunteer. She has also mentored and tutored inner city kids for Mission Possible church camps and has worked with both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City homeless shelters.

The all-time leader in assists at ORU, Bigham helped lead her team to the NCAA Tournament this season. She is a two-time all-conference selection and five time conference player of the week. She holds the school’s and Summit League’s single-season assist record and holds a 3.75 GPA in media. Off the court, Bigham has participated in a pair of mission trips to the Dominican Republic, where she supplied children with shoes and basketball and hosted devotional services. She has also organized shoe drives, participated in reading for youth at the local library, and worked with Triumphant Ministries to provide client relations for the Burma Sewing Initiative.

Luper has written her name all over the ORU and NCAA record books, leaving as a three-time conference player of the year, a two-time AP All-American, the all-time leading scorer in ORU and Summit League history and the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring and steals. She also represented the USA at the 2011 Pan American Games. In addition, Luper helped build a church during a mission trip to Mexico, and also went to the Dominican Republic twice, conducting basketball camps and ministering to children’s homes and prisons. She was a Senior CLASS Award finalist this season, and has volunteered with the Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club and Upward Basketball.

Individual recognition at the banquet also went to six student-athletes who received the ELI Award for Academic Excellence. Bigham and Fernandes were both included in that list, along with Mikey Manghum (men’s basketball), Johanna Sheppard (women’s soccer), Julie Scanlon (women’s soccer) and Shelby Robb (volleyball).

The conference players of the year and All-Americans from the year were also recognized before each team named its MVP.

Below is a list of 2012-13 Team MVPs:

Baseball - None (still competing)

Men's Basketball – Warren Niles, Damen Bell-Holter

Women's Basketball - Kevi Luper

Men's Cross Country – David Batchelder

Women's Cross Country – Samantha Watson

Men's Golf - None chosen (still competing)

Women's Golf - None chosen (still competing)

Men's Soccer – John David James

Women's Soccer – Lauren Parks

Men's Tennis – Fabian Zierleyn

Women's Tennis – Tori Dollar

Men's Indoor Track & Field – Jack Whitt

Women's Indoor Track & Field – Lauren McFarland

Men's Outdoor Track & Field - Jack Whitt, Jeffery Gibson

Women's Outdoor Track & Field – Cornesha Wilkerson

Volleyball – Sheina Fernandes

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