Two honors for Florida softball seniors Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) highlight a stellar start to the 2011 season for the Gators (30-4, 7-3 SEC). Brombacher was named one of 10 finalists for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, announced Monday. The award, which stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, is awarded annually to the student-athlete in the sport who excels both on and off the field. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. The award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Recently, Bush was also announced as UF’s nominee for the Southeastern Conference’s Davis Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship. The Gator first baseman was additionally among the initial list of 30 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award before the 10 finalists were selected. The SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship was named for former SEC Associate Commissioner Brad Davis. Davis succumbed to cancer on March 2, 2006. He had been a member of the SEC staff since 1988, first serving as an assistant commissioner until 1994 when he was promoted to associate commissioner. The Southeastern Conference will name the Davis Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship winners April 5.
The Davis Award recipients each receive a $6,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by the SEC. The 22 remaining male and female finalists for the award will also receive a $3,000 post-graduate scholarship. Bush, the co-head of UF’s Gator Tracks community outreach program that provides shoes for underprivileged children, has also been an All-SEC selection each year of her Gator career and earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III honors in 2009 and 2010, while also being named to the 2009 NCAA Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team.
The award recipients are chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from the 12 SEC institutions and are honored at the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla. on June 3.
With community service, in addition to athletics and academics, a huge emphasis for the Gator softball team, both seniors have excelled not only on the field, but off the field in the Gainesville community. Bush and Brombacher have led the Florida softball team to two-consecutive UAA Lifeskills Cups, awarded to the Florida athletics team that earns the most points for participating in Life Skills programming, including participation with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Goodwill Gators (community outreach), workshops and presentations.
Brombacher excels in all four categories for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, having logged a staggering 262 community service hours in her career as a Gator. The Gators started softball’s Swing for Cancer event two years ago, which gives fans a chance to watch Florida student-athletes and coaches try to hit against Florida’s All-American softball pitchers while raising money for cancer initiatives. Brombacher also participates in a variety of service activities, including Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics and Miracle on Main Street, where low-income families are able to “shop” for holiday gifts using tickets and coupons in downtown Gainesville.
Most recently, Brombacher helped organize the first pitch for UF’s conference home opener against Mississippi State when Orion Woods from local Gainesville Sidney Lanier, who participates with the school’s Special Olympics basketball team, tossed the initial pitch March 16.
In the classroom, Florida’s senior ace has maintained a 3.55 GPA as a health education and behavior major. The righty was named a 2009 and 2010 third-team All-America selection by ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA and has twice been named an ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District III first-team selection. Additionally, she has appeared on the SEC Academic honor roll list all three years of her tenure so far as a Gator.
Named to the 2011 USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List, Brombacher has also exemplified leadership on the field as Florida’s winningest pitcher at 77-8 (.906), entering the 2011 season. Brombacher holds the University of Florida record for highest winning percentage in a season and career. Brombacher has also helped lead the Gators to three-consecutive Women’s College World Series appearances, Florida’s only three WCWS showings in program history, including a spot in the championship series in 2009. Brombacher has achieved all of these honors along with numerous SEC awards and National Honors, including but not limited to 2009 and 2010 NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-American and All-Southeast Region selection, as well as a 2009 Easton All-American.
So far this season, she has maintained a 14-0 record, tallying a perfect game against NC State Feb. 12, while receiving SEC Pitcher of the Week Feb. 14 and 21 and picking up NFCA National Player of the Week Feb. 22.
Gator Fans are encouraged to vote via the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award website now through May 10. Fan votes will be combined with media and coaches votes to determine the winner.