UW senior libero wins an award no Husky athlete has ever won before
|Washington libero Cassie Strickland (8)|
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
OMAHA—Just hours after we ranted about how Washington libero Cassie Strickland keeps getting passed over for postseason awards, she comes up big.
Strickland is the winner of the 2015 Senior CLASS Award (An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.) The award is given to one graduating senior in each of ten NCAA D1 sports. Strickland is the first Washington athlete to win the award in any sport. Washington senior Melanie Wade was also a CLASS Award finalist.
The award is presented by a sports management and marketing company that says it takes input from coaches, media and fans. We're not sure what the acronym's "loyalty" component is supposed to mean, but Strickland sure meets the "achievement" part, both on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. Lots of kids look up to Cassie, and she says she's determined to bring more girls into volleyball from communities that are often unfamiliar with the sport.
This is a great honor, but it's still a reminder that Strickland's on-court performance deserved greater postseason recognition. While the CLASS Award selection process seems a little opaque, perhaps inclusion of a broader voting base—coaches, media, fans—might help avoid future oversights.
NEBRASKA PRODUCES VOLLEYBALL "ROCK STARS"
The sports page for today's Omaha World-Herald is dominated by coverage of the Volleyball Final Four. More than four-and-a-half pages, complete with photos, charts and commentary. A striking contrast to last week's San Diego Regional, where the San Diego Union newspaper dedicated little more than a couple of inches over two days.
World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel had this to say in a column that calls Huskers' volleyball players "rock stars":
"The portrait of volleyball in Nebraska is very much the portrait of basketball in Kansas or hockey in Minnesota … According to Nebraska Prep Volleyball, some 100 girls in the state play college volleyball every year. In this year's NCAA tournament, there were 17 Nebraskans … This sport is in our blood, in our schools, on our TV sets. Crowds pack high school matches. It's not unusual to go into a restaurant or bar in this state in the fall and see a college volleyball match on the TV screens … Girls, they dream about (being in the Final Four). They dream about it, too, in Texas, Minnesota and Kansas. And that's the beauty of this final four: there's no beach in sight. But there's plenty of good old Midwest passion for volleyball."
World-Herald reporter Mike Patterson had a sidebar titled "Faraway Fan:"
NU volleyball fan Rebecca Burke came all the way from Washington to watch the Huskers play in the tourney … The Creighton grad moved to Seattle in 2009, where she teaches math at a community college. "I couldn't miss this," she said. "I'm a (Washington) Husky fan unless they play Nebraska, and then it's all Huskers."