March 20, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - At the ECAC gymnastics banquet tonight, senior team captain Alina Liao was honored as the 2009 Gymnast of the Year. This award was given to the most outstanding gymnast in all facets of competition, voted on by the coaches in the conference. Liao was recognized for her leadership and hard work both in and out of the gym. She has been a star from the moment she stepped on Yale's campus, and her 2006 ECAC Rookie of the Year award was but a harbinger for the future. Liao has been the Ivy Classic champion on floor once, on beam twice, and three times in the all-around, including 2009. This year she has captained Yale's gymnastics team through a hard season, after injuries wiped out nearly half of the team.
The other nominees for the award were Brown's Chelsey Binkey, Penn's Jordan Brewer, Temple's Katie Canning, Towson's Alise McDonald, and William & Mary's Dina McNaughton.
The ECAC also selected four Scholar-Athlete of the Year winners who simultaneously excel in the gym and the classroom, earning a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Liao and fellow senior Lauren Tatsuno both received this award. Liao is both a three-time NCAA Academic All-American and ECAC Scholar Athlete, as well as an Academic All-Ivy honoree in 2008. She is double majoring in English and economics. Despite injuring her knee earlier this season, Tatsuno has been one of Yale's most consistent performers in the vault, beam, and floor line-ups. In 2006, she qualified to the NCAA Regional competition on beam. Tatsuno is an economics major.
The other Scholar-Athletes of the Year were Maddie Pearsall from Cornell, and Jennifer Sobuta from Brown.
Other award recipients: Rookie of the Year - Kristin Milardo, William & Mary Specialist of the Year - Nikki Berrian, Temple Assistant Coach of the Year - Melanie Dilliplane, Cornell
The Coach of the Year award will be given out after the competition tomorrow, which starts at 1:00 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Report filed by Cathy Jan '09, Yale Sports Publicity