January 21, 2011

Eastern Athletic Department Announces December Scholar Athletes of the Month

Senior Tatjana Sparavalo and sophomore Jeff Minnerly earn final scholar athlete awards of 2010 calendar year

Eastern Washington University senior women’s basketball player Tatjana Sparavalo and sophomore free safety Jeff Minnerly from the National Champion Eagle football team have been selected as EWU’s Scholar-Athletes of the Month for December.

Sparavalo, a native of Novi Sad, Serbia, earned her bachelor’s degree from Eastern in just three years. With a 3.62 cumulative GPA, she graduated cum laude in 2010 with a degree in business administration. She is currently working on her master’s in business at EWU.

Minnerly is a 2008 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., and has a 3.88 grade point average as a finance major at Eastern. Minnerly was a 4.0 student at Ferris where he excelled in football and basketball.

More on Sparavalo

One of three seniors on the 2010-11 squad, Sparavalo has provided incredible leadership on and off the court this season. She serves as Eastern’s invaluable “sixth man,” averaging 20.3 minutes off the bench. She is the second-leading scorer and rebounder on the team with 12.1 points and 5.7 caroms per contest.

Sparavalo has also made the most three pointers of any player on the EWU roster (26), and her three-point field goal percentage of .413 is among the top five in the Big Sky Conference. Eleven of her 26 treys came in the month of December, and her percentage in the six games on the month was an even .500.

She has led Eastern in scoring on six different occasions in the 2010-11 campaign, including two games in December. She matched her career-high of 24 points against league rival Northern Colorado, and has twice earned a career-high 11 rebounds. She has registered four double-doubles this season – the most for the Eagles and the second-most for all players in the Big Sky.

Beyond her athletic contributions, Sparavalo has been named to the Big Sky All-Academic team for three consecutive years.

More on Minnerly

On the eve of the NCAA Division I Football Championship game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas, Minnerly was awarded the "Elite 88" Award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He received the award for having the highest cumulative grade point average among the participants in the title game, which EWU won 20-19 over Delaware.

Founded by the NCAA, the Elite 88 award recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site at each of the NCAA's 88 championships.

All GPAs are based on a straight grading scale to ensure consistency among institutions. All ties are broken by the number of credits completed. Eligible student-athletes are sophomores or above who have participated in their sport for at least two years with their school. They must be an active member of the team, traveling and competing at the championship.

Earlier this season, Minnerly was honored as an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection and was also chosen for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII squad, as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). He will also be selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for the second time in 2010.

Minnerly is a former quarterback who started nine of 15 games this season for the 13-2 Eagles. He finished with 50 tackles (10th on the team), three interceptions (second) and six passes broken up (fourth) for the year. He had two tackles and broke-up two passes in the championship game, and had four tackles, an interception and a pass broken up in three playoff victories in December.

He had a team-high eight tackles in his starting debut as a safety versus Nevada on Sept. 2. He then had four tackles, a forced fumble and his first career interception in a 21-14 win over Northern Arizona on Oct 9. His other interceptions came on Oct. 23 versus Sacramento State and Dec. 17 in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs against Villanova.

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