GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Seniors Brandon Bongard and Karlee Despres have been voted this year's 2011-12 Davenport Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Each year this award is voted on by all head coaches and administration in the athletic department and awarded to one senior male and female student-athlete.
BRANDON BONGARD - Baseball
"Brandon has shattered many records at Davenport University, said Director of Athletic Paul Lowden. He is both a great athlete and an academic All-American. Brandon's leadership and commitment to excellence both on and off the field will be missed."
Brandon Bongard was the offensive leader all season for DU as he led the WHAC in many categories including batting average (.418), slugging % (.643), runs (56), hits (82), triples (6) and total bases (126) while finishing fourth in RBI (48), third in doubles (17) and sixth in homeruns (5) which led to being named 1st Team All-Conference. Bongard, who posted a 3.53 GPA and is a Database Management major, was one of six Panthers to earn Academic All-WHAC honors.
In addition to his academic honors at the conference level, Bongard earned NAIA Scholar Athlete accolades and became the school's first ever Capital One Academic All-American as he was placed on the 2nd team in an award based on classroom and playing ability.
"Brandon's accomplishments this season were nothing short of remarkable, said Head Baseball coach Kevin Tidey. His junior year was below what he and I expected, and I was very proud of the way he bounced back from that adversity. He responded by being the best offensive player in our league, and he put up numbers that will be in our record books for many years to come."
KARLEE DESPRES - Softball and Women's Basketball
Despres a 5'11 forward from Belmont, Mich. earned NAIA 2nd Team All-American honors along with being tabbed 1st Team All-WHAC for her efforts on the basketball court this year. The senior was voted WHAC Player of the Week on three different occasions while also becoming a member of DU's 1,000 point club in a 91-84 victory over Northwestern Ohio.
"Karlee is one of the most talented athletes ever to put on a Panther uniform, said Director of Athletics Paul Lowden. It is a bitter sweet moment as we are excited for Karlee and her future but saddened her athletic eligibility has expired. She has raised the bar with her success on the court/field (All-American) and in the classroom with her national academic honors. We wish Karlee all the best in her future endeavors."
On the softball field Despres continued her success from the basketball season leading DU to a 35-16-1 record capturing their second straight WHAC Regular Season Championship. In her first game back after the completion of the women's basketball season, Despres threw a complete game no-hitter against No. 14 Lindsey Wilson on their home field, striking out 12 batters.
She went on to throw another no-hitter against McKendree at the Olivet Nazarene tournament for the sixth of her career. On the season she was 12-6 on the mound finishing with a 2.31 ERA and a single season school record 162 strikeouts. Karlee posted three shutouts and held opponents to a league leading .181 batting average.
Head softball coach Ronda Varnesdeel comments: "Karlee completely dedicated herself athletically and academically to DU during this season. Her work ethic and drive to improve are skills you can't teach. She continued to push herself and her teammates to be better people and athletes. Student-athletes like Karlee are special breeds and are hard to find."