WASHINGTON, D.C. – Madeleine K. Albright, former United States Secretary of State, was honored Thursday night as the recipient of the 2009 Theodore Roosevelt Award during the NCAA Honors and Delegates Celebration.
Albright, a Wellesley graduate who participated in swimming, rowing and field hockey before sports were elevated to varsity status at the school, accepted the award on behalf of the pre-Title IX generation of women student-athletes.
“I would like to accept this award less on behalf of myself and more in recognition of the entire pre-Title IX population of women and girls, a vast group whose opportunities to excel were stunted by the prejudice of the era,” said Albright. “Because of Title IX, I have been able to watch my daughters and granddaughters skating, skiing swimming volleying and otherwise representing themselves and their schools in athletics competitions.”
The 64th Secretary of State and the first woman to hold the post, Albright said instead of receiving a message that they should know their place, today’s female student-athletes understand they can define their own place through hard work, dedication and a willingness to match their best against the best of others.
“This evolution matters not because it is politically correct but because it contributes so much to the purposes of the NCAA, to prepare our young people for life and prompt them to demand a full measure of effort from themselves,” she said. “The athletics field is a marvelous place to learn about leadership, strategy, teamwork and competition. It’s a place to earn respect by showing respect for yourselves, teammates, opponents and for the sport itself. These lessons are essential to men and women alike and are vital well beyond the realm of athletics to the wider world where we are about to begin a new era in American history at a time when insecurity and hope coexist as never before.”
Albright headlined a strong slate of Honors awards recipients who were also recognized during the evening – among them Kelly Brush, a former skiing student-athlete at Middlebury, who was recognized as the 2009 Inspiration Award winner. While competing in the giant slalom at the Williams College Winter Carnival, Brush crashed and sustained severe injuries. Although she missed a semester recovering from the accident, she still managed to graduate with her class at Middlebury. Now in a wheelchair, she has returned to the slopes after mastering the skill of mono-skiing and has established the Kelly Brush Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving ski racing safety.
“I was thrown into the situation where this happened to me and I had no other choice. I just continued to live my life the best way I know how,” said Brush. “I’m very happy that I’ve been able to inspire people, and I hope that I can continue to do that for years.”
North Carolina soccer standout Yael Averbuch and Mount Union quarterback Gregory Micheli were among the outstanding student-athletes honored as the 2009 NCAA Today’s Top VIII, along with Kirby Blackley, Findlay outdoor and indoor track and field; Dylan Carney, Stanford gymnastics; Kristi Miller, Georgia Tech tennis; Louie Sakoda, Utah football; Katy Tafler, Grand Valley State soccer; and Angela Tincher, Virginia Tech softball.
Former football stars Steve Young and Darrell Green were among the six 2009 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award winners who also were honored. The other 2009 Silver Anniversary Award winners were Deitre Collins-Parker, Hawaii volleyball and basketball; Mark Fusco, Harvard ice hockey; Earl Graves Jr., Yale basketball; and Kathy McMinn, Georgia gymnastics.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association