Radford University’s Chelsea Kelley (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) has been selected as the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner in softball. Awarded one of the most prestigious awards in collegiate athletics, Kelley was presented the trophy Friday evening at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City by Lowe’s, an official corporate partner of the NCAA®, during the Women’s College World Series®.
Kelley, who has made an impact on the field, in the classroom and in the community during her four years wearing the red and white, is the first Radford and Big South student-athlete to earn this honor. She joins fellow Cave Spring High School alumnus and Orlando Magic guard JJ Redick as a recipient (2005-06) of this award.
It marks the fifth year of the award for softball and Kelley will have her name beside previous winners: Caitlin Lowe (Arizona), Angela Tincher (Virginia Tech), Stacy Nelson (Florida) and Charlotte Morgan (Alabama).
The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I head coaches, national media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I softball. 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.
“I feel very honored to be the recipient of the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The entire Lowe's journey this year has been so great for me. This experience has allowed me to get out in the community and try to make a positive impact on those I meet,” Kelley said. “Although Radford is in a smaller community, every person I have met during my collegiate career has positively influenced the person that I am today. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of the Radford community for the last four years and just want to thank everyone who has led me to where I am today.”
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS 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 named the Big South Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Kelley maintained a 3.94 grade point average, graduated summa cum laude with a degree in sports medicine, and has been accepted into the university’s physical therapy doctoral program. Along with her hard work in the classroom, she makes time for her teammates, which was evident when the program recorded the 25th best GPA amongst NCAA Div. 1 schools in 2009-2010.
A member of Radford’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Kelley has represented the school at the Big South’s leadership conference and is involved in numerous charitable activities, including Special Olympics and the Ronald McDonald House.
“I am so honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to coach Chelsea over the past four years,” said three-time Big South Coach of the Year Mickey Dean. “To see a kid go through so many challenges throughout her career, and to see her handle each obstacle with such dignity is a true testament to her character. One of the more astonishing things is for this young lady to win the fan vote against such great odds. I believe that shows the incredible impact she has on the people she has come in contact with.”
Kelley’s exploits on the softball field played a major role in the Highlanders winning three consecutive regular-season championships as well as their first two Big South Tournament Championships in 2009 and 2010. In doing so, the lefty twirler also helped Radford reach its first two NCAA tournaments, including an appearance in the 2010 NCAA Regional Final against eventual national semi-finalist Georgia.
The 2009 Big South Pitcher of the Year and first-team all-region selection, Kelley concluded her career ranked among the top six in Radford history including saves (T-2nd – 7), wins (3rd – 58), appearances (4th – 125), starts (4th – 85), strikeouts (5th – 292), innings pitched (5th – 498.2), ERA (5th – 3.03), complete games (6th – 31) and shutouts (T-6th – 6).
“Chelsea has certainly fought through injuries during her outstanding career, but she’s proven that giving up on her dream was never a consideration,” said David Geren, Lowe’s vice president of marketing. “She’s used her experiences to make herself a better player on the field and to build a better community off the field.”
For more information on all the finalists, visit www.seniorCLASSaward.com.