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GCU's Proctor, UTRGV's Watson Earn 2016-17 Stan Bates Award

GCU's Proctor, UTRGV's Watson Earn 2016-17 Stan Bates Award
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- Grand Canyon cross country and track athlete Samuel Proctor and UT Rio Grande Valley volleyball player Alisha Watson have been named the 2016-17 Western Athletic Conference Stan Bates Award winners. Named in honor of former WAC Commissioner Stan Bates, the annual award is given to the WAC's top male and female scholar-athletes and recognizes athletic, academic and community accomplishments. The award includes a $3,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Proctor, from South Royalton, Vt., is on track to earn dual bachelor's degrees in exercise science and business management in the spring of 2018, and currently holds a 3.92 cumulate grade-point average. A seven-time Academic All-WAC honoree, he has been named to the Grand Canyon University President's List in each of his four years in Phoenix and was the GCU Student-Athlete of the Month for September 2016.

The top male distance runner at Grand Canyon for the past three years, he was the runner-up at the 2016 WAC Cross Country Championship. He was also the second place finisher in the 3,000-meter run and the 5,000-meter run at the 2017 WAC Indoor Track and Field Championships and the 5,000-meter run at the 2017 WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship. He earned First Team All-WAC six times in his career, earning the honor in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field each of the last two seasons.

A three-year member of the Grand Canyon Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Proctor has volunteered throughout the Phoenix area, including as a science fair judge at Alhambra High School and as a volunteer at a homeless shelter at his local Ethiopian church.

"Sam is a dedicated leader in our cross country and track and field programs," Grand Canyon head cross country coach Sara Slattery said. "He dedicates himself to know the sport and do all the things necessary to be successful. He is also one of the most positive and focused athletes I have worked with. Sam does not let bumps in the road distract him from his goals and he is not afraid of failure."

Watson, from Round Rock, Texas, graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in biology, holding a 3.67 cumulative grade-point average. A four-time Academic All-WAC honoree, she was also named to the UTRGV AD honor roll six times. She plans on pursuing medical school.

The 2016 WAC Tournament MVP, she was a second team All-WAC player last season and earned WAC All-Freshman honors in 2013. She ranks among the top ten in NCAA Division I program history in six different categories, including third in aces (128) and fifth in kills (1,101). Watson played in 126 matches in her collegiate career and ranked ninth in the WAC in kills per set (3.07) and eighth in hitting percentage (.262) during her senior season.

She served as vice president of UT Rio Grande Valley SAAC and was also involved in WAC SAAC, serving as the social media coordinator. Watson has volunteered with the Williams County Animal Shelter since 2010 and has also spent time volunteering at Barry Road Retirement Home, Sacred Heart Health Clinic, and Driscoll Children's Specialty Center.

"Alisha's personal strengths are as impressive as her accomplishments," said UTRGV head volleyball coach Todd Lowery. "Nothing in life has been handed to her, as she has had to work against odds of family and financial struggles to get where she is today. She has a unique ability to make those around her want to achieve more than they believe is possible."
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