ATLANTA (March 29, 2017) — The SUNY Geneseo and Northwestern University women's basketball programs have been honored by Russell Athletic and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association with the 2017 Russell Athletic "Together We R" Team Award.
The "Together We R" Team Award honors programs that have strived to succeed in the face of adversity, overcoming extraordinary circumstances such as an unforeseen team crisis, barrier or unfortunate situation that caused extra stress. The team must exemplify strong commitment to core values of togetherness, courage, unparalleled work ethic and heart, and must personify the "Together We R" belief that teams are stronger than individuals.
This season, SUNY Geneseo faced loss for the second time within an 11-month period. Savannah Williams, a freshman from Norwich, N.Y., was killed in a car accident in December 2016.
The Nights honored Williams’ memory by finishing the regular season undefeated (25-0). The squad earned the top seed for the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) tournament for the second time in three seasons. SUNY Geneseo went on to finish the season 28-2 after the team advanced to the 2017 NCAA Division III tournament.
Northwestern also suffered loss in January 2017 after the passing of sophomore, guard Jordan Hankins.
After the tragic loss, the Wildcats fought to end the season with a winning 20-12 record. The squad concluded the season with an eighth-place standing in the Big Ten Conference and advanced to the quarterfinals of the league’s tournament. Northwestern held top-five positions in the Big Ten for scoring offense (65.4 per game), defensive field goal percentage (.380), blocked shots (5.6 per game) and steals (8.7).
“It’s unfortunate that any family or team has to experience tragedy like those that SUNY Geneseo and Northwestern University communities have endured this year. However, the determination and perseverance the players, coaches and families showed is a perfect demonstration of what we can endure when working together as a team,” said Russell Athletic Vice President of Marketing, Matt Murphy. “Everyone associated with these programs came together to ensure they had the support needed to continue. Russell Athletic is proud to recognize SUNY Geneseo and Northwestern University with the ‘Together We R’ Award.”
“Scott Hemer and Joe McKeown have demonstrated exemplary leadership and compassion in the face of tragedy. Scott and Joe’s commitment to their student-athletes and their families are a testament to the power of their calling as coaches,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “Through this award, our WBCA family of coaches reinforces their support for Scott and Joe, their staffs, student-athletes, institutions and communities. We commend each program for their commitment to one another. The WBCA family offers our deepest condolences to the families of Savannah Williams and Jordan Hankins. We honor Savannah and Jordan, and affirm their eternal place in our game.”
Hemer and McKeown will be presented with the “Together We R” Team Award during the WBCA Convention that is held in conjunction with the NCAA® Women’s Final Four® in Dallas.
For more than 100 years, Russell Brands, LLC, has supplied America’s athletes and teams with the latest innovations to help them perform at their best and is a leading supplier of apparel and team uniforms. Russell Athletic’s collegiate licensed products and athletic wear are broadly distributed and marketed through department stores, sports specialty stores, retail chains and college bookstores. For more information, please visit www.RussellAthletic.com, facebook.com/russellathletic, twitter.com/RussellAthletic.
About the WBCA
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women's and girls' basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of a diverse community of coaches to the organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport. Visit www.WBCA.org for more details about the Association.