Awards by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association to the outstanding senior athletes from its member schools during the 2010-11 academic year have been announced by Commissioner David Neilson.
Eric Watt of Trine University has received the Albert L. Deal Scholar-Athlete Award, while Melissa Oosterhouse of Calvin College has been presented the Sheila Wallace Kovalchik Scholar-Athlete Award.
"Eric and Melissa have had marvelous careers these last four years in the classroom, on the field, and as role models in our conference. They will be missed, but their selection for these awards from such an exceptional group of nominees is an achievement for which they should take great pride," Commissioner Neilson said.
The awards recognize senior class athletes who have excelled in academics and athletics, as well as displayed outstanding leadership qualities. The awards honor two former MIAA commissioners, Albert Deal (1971-91) and Sheila Wallace Kovalchik (1991-2002).
A native of Kentland, Ind. and graduate of South Newton Junior-Senior High School, Watt lettered in football all four years for Trine, moving into the starting lineup at quarterback his freshman year and remaining the full-time starter from his sophomore year on. He was a three-time First Team All-MIAA selection and was named the conference’s Most Valuable Player on offense his junior and senior seasons. Last season, he was named the recipient of the Gagliardi Trophy, the most prestigious individual honor in NCAA Division III football, for his play on the field as well as his academics and community service. He was also selected to the American Football Coaches’ Association Division III All-America team.
Watt set numerous Trine school records during his career as he led the Thunder to three consecutive MIAA championships. He completed 58.7 percent of his passes (650 of 1,108) for 8,464 yards and 82 touchdowns during his career. He added another 1,834 yards rushing on 443 attempts and scored 18 touchdowns, giving him more than 10,000 yards total offense in his career. As a senior, he led Division III quarterbacks in passing efficiency with a rating of 182.05, completing 67 percent of his pass attempts (197 of 294) for 2,873 yards and 33 touchdowns, while throwing only six interceptions. With Watt as the starting quarterback, Trine went 29-1 in regular season games, including a perfect 18-0 record in MIAA play, over the last three years and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs each of the last two years.
A finance major with an emphasis on international business, Watt graduated with his bachelor’s degree in December after just 3 ½ years of study. He was a three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, and was also active in Delta Mu Delta, a business honor society, Alpha Chi Omega, an athletic honor society and Who’s Who in America (Colleges and Universities).
Watt was also active in community and campus activities off the field as well. He was a four-year participant in a community reading program at Carlin Park Elementary School, in Angola, Ind., took part in cleanup efforts at Pokagon State Park, and was involved in on-campus charity fundraisers, the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, and the football program’s talent show.
Eric Watt is the son of Ron and Luanne Watt.
Other nominees for the Deal award included David Sreiberg of Adrian, Ben Alger of Albion, Andrew Schaar of Alma, Scott Hooker of Calvin, John Donkersloot of Hope, Craig Fleming of Kalamazoo and Kellen Beckwith of Olivet.
A resident of Grand Rapids, Mich., and graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, Oosterhouse was a four-year letter winner in women’s tennis for Calvin, earning All-MIAA First Team honors all four years. She was the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player in her junior and senior years and this spring became the first Calvin player in school history to earn Division III All-American honors. She was also named the recipient of the MIAA’s Karen Caine Scholar-Athlete Award each of the past two years and won the MIAA’s Sue Little Sportsmanship Award in 2009.
Oosterhouse set several Calvin school records during her career. This spring, she posted a 19-2 record at No. 1 singles for the Knights and earned her second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III women’s singles championship, advancing to the second round. She finished her career with a record of 78-14 at singles, the most victories ever by a Calvin women’s tennis player.
A biology pre-med major and dean’s list student at Calvin all four years, Oosterhouse graduated in May with a 3.955 grade point average, earning recognition to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll all four years of her career. She was a first-team selection to the College Division ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team in women’s tennis, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, in 2010 and is under consideration for the same honor this year. She was also named the recipient of the NCAA’s Elite 88 Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest grade point average among those competing in NCAA championship events, in Division III women’s tennis last year.
Oosterhouse volunteered for numerous school and community service projects during her collegiate career. She was a member of Calvin’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee each of the past two years and took part in Calvin’s Gainey Leadership Retreat. She also volunteered for two years at the Grandville Institute for the Arts, worked with special needs children at her church for four years, provided tennis lessons to third-grade students through a program called Quick Start, and did an internship at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich., last summer where she conducted research on breast cancer.
Melissa Oosterhouse is the daughter of Carl and Joy Oosterhouse. She has been admitted to the Wayne State University School of Medicine, where she plans to attend in the fall.
Other nominees for the Kovalchik Award were Kristin Toney of Adrian, Ashley Collins of Albion, Kelly Koenigsknecht of Alma, Kara VandeGuchte of Hope, Chelsea Smith of Kalamazoo, Amber Conrad of Olivet, Mary Kate Boyce of Saint Mary’s and Tori Bluhm of Trine.