WKU Athletics announces winners of annual TOPSY Awards

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Credit: WKU Athletics

Big Red eats volleyballs in Diddle Arena on October 6, 2019.

Jake Moore and Drew Toennies

WKU Athletics announced the winners of its annual TOPSY Awards on Thursday night. The awards serve as a way to recognize WKU student-athletes’ achievements on the field, in the classroom and in their communities.

Ambere Barnett of WKU Women’s Soccer and WKU Football’s Devon Key were named Ms. and Mr. Hilltopper respectively. The honor is given to upperclassmen who exhibit the WKU spirit and embody what it means to be a Hilltopper. Barnett led WKU Women’s Soccer to a 8-2-2 record in 2020-21 and scored 18 goals during her time at WKU. Key was signed by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs on May 1.

WKU Softball’s Taylor Davis was given the Phillip Hatchett Hilltopper Spirit Award, which is awarded to the student-athlete that embodies the character and attitude of late WKU Men’s Golf head coach Phillip Hatchett.

WKU outfielder, Taylor Davis (6) waits for a pitch during the game against Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

“Taylor Davis is well deserving of this honor. She exemplifies what it means to be a Hilltopper,” WKU Softball head coach Amy Tudor said. “She contributes to the greater good of Western and positively impacts her teammates, coaches and others across the campus.”

WKU Volleyball All-Americans Lauren Matthews and Paige Briggs were both given the Female John O. Oldham Student-Athlete of the Year Award, which is bestowed on the male and female student-athletes that put together the best statistical season. Matthews (266) and Briggs (248) finished fifth and sixth in kills in C-USA respectively. Matthews led C-USA with 87 blocks and also won the award in 2020 as well.

The Female Rookie of the Year Award was given to Hope Sivori of the Lady Toppers Basketball program.

 Sivori, who had an outstanding freshman season with the Lady Toppers, also earned a C-USA Co-Freshman of the Year award and a C-USA All-Freshman Team award this past season.

The Louisville, KY native averaged 9.6 points per game, scoring 221 points in total over the 2020-21 season. Sivori’s best overall performance was against C-USA foe Louisiana Tech where she scored 23 points.

Sivori has also proven her ability to make smart passes as she had a total of 97 assists in her freshman campaign. She also tied for third most assists by any Lady Topper player with an average of 4.2 assists per game.

Dayvion Mcknight of WKU’s Men’s Basketball program was awarded the Male Rookie of the Year award. McKnight helped lead the Hilltoppers to the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championship for the third year in a row.

The Shelbyville, Kentucky native started 17 games for WKU in 2020-21, averaging 5.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. The highlight of McKnight’s season came against Northern Iowa on November 25, 2020 when the freshman guard scored 21 points.

The Newcomer of the Year Award, given to the most impactful transfer student-athlete, was awarded to WKU Baseball sophomore outfielder Jackson Gray.

WKU outfielder Jackson Gray (51) swings at a pitch during the game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Nick Denes Field on March 14. WKU won 17-16.

Gray was named Conference USA Hitter of the Week the week of April 12 and is  slashing .356/.470/.538 over 40 starts so far this season. The Wheaton, Illinois native has hit 14 extra-base hits this year with five of those being home runs.

The Female and Male Community Outreach awards were given to WKU Track & Field’s Nikki Ogorek and Dartez Hamlin respectively. Ogorek was honored due to her position as co-chair of the WKU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Hamlin was honored for his volunteer work in homeless shelters during his winter and summer breaks.

The Team Community Outreach Award was given to WKU’s Women’s Soccer for their community work and volunteerism.

The Female Record-Breaking Performance Award was given to WKU’s Volleyball program. The team put together a 23-1 regular season record, good for a .958 winning percentage, the best in program history. The team also made its first-ever Sweet 16 appearance in the 2020-21 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. WKU Volleyball ended the season with its highest-ever final ranking at 16th best in the nation according to the AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Women’s Poll.

The Head Coach of the Year Award was given to WKU Volleyball’s Travis Hudson for leading his squad to its aforementioned first ever Sweet 16 appearance and 23-1 record. Since arriving at WKU in 1995, Hudson’s teams have put together a record of 665-216, good for a winning percentage of .755.

The WKU Volleyball program also took home the Overall Team Performance Award.

The Male Record-Breaking Performance Award was given to WKU Basketball’s Taveion Hollingsworth for appearing in the most games in program history (131) as well as racking up the most minutes played (4525). Hollingsworth ranks fifth all-time in program history for points scored (1,896).

WKU Senior guard, Taveion Hollingsworth (11) celebrates after the game against Old Dominion on Saturday, March 6, 2021 in Diddle Arena.

The Female and Male Scholar Athlete of the Year awards were given to Lady Topper golfer Megan Clarke and her 3.97 GPA and WKU Baseball’s Jackson Swiney with his 3.96 GPA respectively. 

The Female and Male Graduate Scholar Athlete of the Year awards were given to WKU Softball’s Paige Carter and WKU Baseball’s Collin Lollar. Both student athletes have compiled 4.0 GPAs in their respective master’s programs.

The Women’s and Men’s Scholar Team of the Year awards were given to WKU’s Women’s and Men’s Golf programs. The two programs compiled 3.80 and 3.64 team GPAs respectively.

The Best Comeback Award was given to WKU Basketball’s Charles Bassey. The Lagos, Nigeria native bounced back from a season-ending tibial plateau fracture in his left leg during his sophomore year to average 17.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in his junior year campaign. 

The All-American Bassey was also awarded the Male John O. Oldham Student-Athlete of the Year Award. Bassey totaled 18 double-doubles in 28 games for the Hilltoppers in 2020-21 and is projected as a late first round or second round draft pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

The Best Upset Award was given to WKU’s Softball program for its 2-1 extra-innings defeat of then-no. 7 Kentucky on March 24. The game stayed tied 1-1 until the bottom of the 9th inning when redshirt sophomore Kennedy Sullivan hit a walk-off single to score redshirt freshman TJ Webster and upset the Wildcats.

WKU outfielder, Taylor Davis (6) celebrates after making a diving catch during the game against Kentucky on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

Two members of WKU’s athletic staff were awarded the Support Staff of the Year Award due to a tie in voting. Sport psychologist Joey Case and athletic trainer Dustin Wilson walked away with the awards.

The Administrator of the Year Award was given to Associate AD for Athletic Training and Sports Medicine Mike Gaddie for his work in leading WKU Athletics’ COVID-19 task force.

Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.

Women’s basketball beat reporter Drew Toennies can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies