Eagles rename strength and conditioning award in honor of 2004 Big Sky MVP
Each year, the Eastern Washington University volleyball program honors one of its members for superior work during the spring season. The award is given to the player who best exhibits strong work ethic, perseverance, character and a team-first attitude, particularly with regard to strength and conditioning.
In 2012, the award, formerly known as the Emtman Award, was renamed to honor one of Eastern’s most decorated alumnae, Keva Sonderen.
In its first year as the Keva Sonderen Award, the prize was given to senior Shelby Puckett. The 5-11 outside hitter from Latah, Wash., is actually a two-time recipient of the honor, as she won the Emtman in 2010.
Puckett adds this award to her already decorated resume. In 2011, she was recognized on the All-Big Sky Second Team, after being named to the honorable mention squad in 2010. Puckett helped lead the Eagles to a top-four finish in the Big Sky a season ago, and a spot in the 2011 Big Sky Tournament, which was Eastern’s 15th appearance in the last 16 years.
Puckett’s success extends beyond the volleyball court, as she is also a three-time Big Sky All-Academic honoree.
“Shelby is a vital cog to this program’s past and future success,” said Kydd. “She is without a doubt a worthy recipient of the award.”
The inspiration for this honor, Sonderen, played for the Eagles from 2001-04, leading the team to three-consecutive Big Sky regular-season titles. In her first year with the program, Eastern won the Big Sky tournament title and went on to the second round of the NCAA Division I Championship. No other Big Sky team has ever advanced further.
As a senior in 2004, Sonderen was selected as the Big Sky Most Valuable Player. She is one of only five elite players in Eastern history to earn the prestigious award. Sonderen, who is originally from Spokane, Wash., was twice selected to the BSC first-team, and like Puckett, was a three-time all-academic selection.
“I first met Keva when I came here in 2004 on a whirlwind job interview for the assistant coach position at Eastern,” said EWU head coach Miles Kydd. “It was those first 45 minutes I spent with Keva and her teammates that made an impact on me. I knew then that she was, and is, someone special. Anyone that played with Keva knows she truly exemplifies the qualities for which this award is based.”