Feb. 20, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Senior Mari Majam (Pine Valley, Calif./Mountain Empire) is the face of Northwestern's trio of exceptional nominees for the 2014 softball Senior CLASS Award, the organization announced today.
Even given its extensive history with the Senior CLASS Award, formerly sponsored by Lowe's, Northwestern and its 2014 senior class has embodied more than ever the stated principles of the honor: notable achievements in the community, classroom, character and competition. Majam will serve as NU's candidate for the award among other Wildcats' nominees Marisa Bast (Orange, Calif./Villa Park) and Emily Allard (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley), both of whom also easily met the criteria for selection.
Majam is an All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten award winner who has excelled after changing her game to be a full-time slapper for NU near to the top of the lineup. Hailing from a family of softball players, Mari is the second Majam to be a candidate for this award following on the heels of older sister Kelly at Hawaii last year.
Bast is a 2012 All-American, 2013 Academic All-American and created the Wildcats R.O.A.R.R. program to battle bullying in local schools. In addition, she won one of two internships with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last year out of over 1,000 applicants, and already has secured employment with the organization for after graduation.
Allard was chosen as a 2013 Senior CLASS Award candidate once before, but suffered a season-ending injury and was granted a medical hardship waiver to return as a fifth-year senior in 2014. Allard is a former USA Softball National Player of the Year finalist who already has her undergraduate degree and now is a pursuing a master's in Integrated Marketing Communications from the prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
Northwestern softball has a long history of supporting this award, earning top-10 finalists in 2007 (Garland Cooper), 2009 (Tammy Williams) and 2010 (Nicole Pauly). 2012 senior Adrienne Monka also was a candidate just prior to Allard in 2013.
From the list of 29 other candidates joining Majam, a national media committee will select 10 finalists for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award in April. Those 10 names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award.
The nominations and notable achievements for Majam, Bast and Allard in the four stated areas are as follows:
Mari Majam, Candidate
Classroom: Mari is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner and an NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete. A devoutly religious individual, Mari changed her major prior to her junior year to Religious Studies and has plans to use that degree within her faith upon graduation.
Character: Mari is one of four sisters in her family to play Division I college softball, with all of them attending colleges in different time zones. Her oldest sister, Allison, played at Colorado State; her older sister, Kelly, was a Senior CLASS Award Candidate last year at Hawaii; her youngest sister, Grayce, has signed an NLI to play at Ole Miss. The four sisters have an incredibly supportive attitude toward each other's success and form one of the most unique families to ever play the sport. Nicknamed the "Silent Assassin" by her teammates, Mari herself is a woman of quiet confidence and leadership-by-example who won the team's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honor as a sophomore in 2012.
Community: During her Northwestern career, Mari has performed an incredible amount of community outreach. Those activities include: swimming in the Breaststroke for Breast Cancer: Hour of Power Relay that raised over $12,000 for local cancer research, the Women's Club of Evanston Fairy Tale Trail: Trick or Treating for kids with disabilities, Distribution of 80,000 pounds of frozen chicken to local food pantries through the Hunger Resource Network, Supplies for Dreams: Chicago Public Schools Field Day, Dropping off canned food at Family Focus, Teaching/Playing in PE Class and teaching her sport for Sneaker Week at Baker Demonstration school and spending time with young athletes at Special Olympics Field Day.
Competition: Mari was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2013 after batting .343 with 41 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. A natural left-handed batter, Mari transitioned to slapping full-time midway through her sophomore season to better take advantage of her speed. The move paid off with a stellar junior campaign. Once she reaches base, Mari's speed makes her a threat to score on every play. In fact, in 2012, Mari scored 48 runs despite have just 44 hits on the year. Mari also is known for her fearless play in left field, turning many sure doubles or foul balls into outs with all-out dives and crashes into the fence. She has started 143 games in her career.
Marisa Bast, Nominee
Classroom: Marisa earned a Capital One Academic All-America second-team honor as a junior in 2013. She is both a multiple-time Academic All-Big Ten and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar award winner. A Learning and Organizational Change major, Bast was one of two winners of a 2013 internship with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange out of over 1,000 applicants. The experience and her performance there already has earned her a job offer as an analyst with the Mercantile Exchange after graduation in June.
Character: In addition to her major, Marisa is enrolled in Northwestern's Undergraduate Leadership Certificate Program. As part of this program, Marisa conceived, founded and launched "Wildcats Stand Up and R.O.A.R.R. (Reach Out And Reinforce Respect), an anti-bullying program for local schools. Marisa recruited several dozen other student-athletes and worked with NU's Asst. AD for Community Relations to develop a curriculum and format, then partnered with local elementary and middle schools to implement her program. There currently is a waiting list of schools wanting to join the program due to its popularity.
Community: In addition to the anti-bullying program mentioned under "Character" that Marisa has launched in multiple local schools, she is involved in the Northwestern University Center for Civic Engagement, which promotes a lifelong commitment to active citizenship and social responsibility among all students. Marisa has partnered with the organization on a consultant basis, helping them to overhaul the way the program is administered. She also serves Northwestern student-athletes via posts on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and NU For Life, a life skills program at NU aimed at preparing student-athletes for the post-graduate professional world.
Competition: Marisa is a 2012 NFCA All-American and three-time All-Big Ten honoree. During her All-America season of 2012, Marisa was just one home run shy of the conference's Triple Crown when she finished with a .411 batting average, 68 RBIs and 13 home runs. For her career, Marisa is a .341 batter with a .602 slugging percentage, 108 runs, 30 home runs and 140 RBIs.
Emily Allard, 2013 Candidate, 2014 Nominee
Classroom: Emily is a multiple-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree who graduated in June of 2013 with a degree in communications studies. She now is pursuing a master's degree in integrated marketing communications. Emily desires a career in sports marketing, and as such she took on an internship with Wilson in the summer of 2012. She performed so well that she was asked back in 2013, and ended taking over many full-time duties while her supervisor went on maternity leave. Her dedication is so complete that after much deliberation, Emily declined an invitation to USA Softball National Team selection camp in the summer of 2012 to begin that internship. The decision has proven to be a great one because Emily's connections at Wilson have proven to be invaluable in her pursuit of full-time employment post college.
Character: Emily has dealt with injuries her entire career, but none so severe as the one she played through as a junior. During the offseason of 2012, Emily had surgery and recovery did not go as planned. A Senior CLASS Award Candidate in 2013, she attempted to play on opening day last year, but re-injured herself to the point where she had to sit out the rest of the year. Emily struggled with not graduating alongside her class and delaying the professional opportunities described in the "classroom" section above. In the end, she decided to come back for her fifth year, and is doing so as an outfielder after starting 146 previous games at shortstop because Northwestern had already recruited her replacement at that position.
Community: One of the more involved student-athletes in our community, Emily has volunteered her time to visit local schools to conduct Q&A sessions with students of all ages, participate in the Women's Club of Evanston "Fairy Tale Trail," a trick or treat night for kids with disabilities, expose local disadvantaged youth to sports participation at NU's Field Day, paint fire hydrants purple with local kids in conjunction with the City of Evanston's "Paint Evanston Purple" initiative, help raise money for NU women's swimming's "Breaststroke 4 Breast Cancer," which raised nearly $12,000 for local cancer research, and coached little league and travel ball teams during her college career both at home in Northern California and in Evanston.
Competition: Emily is a two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list member and was a 2011 top-25 finalist for the award. In 2011, Emily won the NFCA Golden Shoes Award at the nation's top base-stealer during a season in which she set the Northwestern school-record with a .491 batting average while stealing 45 bases in 46 attempts. Emily is a three-time All-Big Ten and NFCA All-Region selection and is just one stolen base shy of the NU all-time school record of 118. For her career, Emily is a .405 batter with 128 runs scored, 226 hits and 117 steals.
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