Jan. 29, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Three Indiana student-athletes have been selected as the December Scholar-Athlete and C.H.A.M.P.S. Champ of the Month for their achievements on and off the field of competition. Freshman running back Darius Willis was named the IU Male Scholar-Athlete of the Month, while freshman midfielder Katie Burden was named the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Month. Field hockey midfielder and junior Meg O'Connell was named the December C.H.A.M.P.S. Champ of the Month.
Willis, a 6-0, 215-pound running back from Indianapolis, rushed for 1,728 yards and 28 touchdowns to finish as the runner-up for Indiana Mr. Football at Franklin Central.
"Darius is a special young man and this is one of many honors he will earn during his career," said IU head football coach Bill Lynch. "To receive this awards as a true freshman speaks volumes on the character and drive Darius owns."
"Darius finished the semester without a grade below a B," said IU Academic Advisor Dustin Swanson. "He set his goal to earn all A's and B's early in the term and worked extremely hard to accomplish that goal. He never delivers less than his best on every assignment. His academic commitment was infectious at times and I am so pleased to have someone of his nature leading the freshmen class. Darius is not only going to be a star on the field, he is going to be a superstar in the classroom."
Burden, a 5-4 midfielder on IU's women's soccer team, was a first team all-district honoree during her senior campaign at Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, Texas. She helped lead her team to the regional quarterfinals.
"In her short time here, Katie has often demonstrated a work ethic that drives her to maximize her potential," said IU head women's soccer coach Mick Lyon. "Her effort on the field and in the classroom is in line with what we want all our student-athletes to strive for. This is an honor well deserved."
"Katie struggled with math this past semester, but she took it upon herself to sign up for two separate math tutors and met with them four times a week," said IU Academic Advisor Brenda Blackburn. "It paid off and I'm very proud of her work."
O'Connell, a 5-3 midfielder for Indiana's field hockey team, led the Hoosiers in goals and points with a career-high seven goals and 16 points in 2008. The St. Louis, Mo., native, led Indiana in shots on the season with 37 and earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors and second team All-Region honors for her efforts.
"Meg has put in a lot of extra time off the field to excel and develop skills that will make herself and team better," said IU head field hockey coach Amy Robertson. "She was a team captain last year and has participated in the leadership programs that C.H.A.M.P.S. has offered and has organized various community service events for our team, while also participating as a Student-Athlete Advisory Council representative. Meg is also a very conscientious student and team member who works hard to be all that she can be."
"Meg was an integral part of the Athletic Department Life Skills programs this past fall," said IU Academic Advisor Kelly Noonan. "She was actively involved in the Elite Leaders Program and also helped coordinate the Angel Tree efforts, which benefited children in the Bloomington community over the holidays. Meg not only strives to excel academically and athletically, but also in service opportunities to her fellow student-athletes and community."
The C.H.A.M.P.S. (Challenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success) Champ of the Month is an outstanding student that has excelled in all of the five areas of C.H.A.M.P.S.: service, personal and career development, and academic and athletic excellence.