Each week, the Northwest Conference (NWC) releases an article showcasing the recipients of the Student-Athlete of the Week award. The award is granted to student-athletes who have excelled athletically in their sports during the designated week of conference play, whether it be for an outstanding performance or beating a personal or school record. Throughout the course of the academic year, many students have noticed that the award is granted to students from certain colleges more than others. Lewis & Clark student-athletes have been chosen for this award only ten times throughout the 2018-2019 academic year.
The number of times a student-athlete from each college has received the award in the conference this academic year are as follows: Whitman: 9, Pacific: 25, Linfield: 29, Willamette: 33, Whitworth: 37, George Fox: 38, Puget Sound: 42, Pacific Lutheran: 45.
While most of the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week awards are singular, meaning there is only one award in their sport, like men’s and women’s basketball, some sports have more specific awards, such as offensive, defensive and special team awards in sports such as football, soccer and volleyball.
Ryan Goff, LC’s Director of Athletic Communications and a voter for the award, explained how the NWC selects their nominees.
“Each school is responsible for nominating student-athletes for each award that they have,” Goff said. “So my office submits our names, and it depends on how the coaches want to be involved and if the coaches have specific people that they feel like they want to nominate; they’re more than welcome to send that person to me and I’ll pass that through, but we just nominate all on an individual basis. Right now, the Northwest Conference has groupings of Athletic Communications people who vote on the awards.”
The NWC voters are selected on a rotational cycle with three people from various schools. This year, LC was selected to have voters on the committee during both the fall and spring semesters.
Despite this seemingly fair process, LC student-athletes do not appear to receive this award as much as other schools in the conference do.
“I think one of the biggest criteria that people who are voting look for is a team winning,” Goff said. “If so, did that person have an outstanding performance on a winning team?”
After reviewing the number of times an athlete has been chosen from each school, Goff found that the numbers somewhat mirror the results of the NWC’s “All-Sports Trophy” awarded at the end of each academic year.
“I think with us being in the bottom two of that All-Sports Trophy, based on our ranking within the standings of the conference … probably doesn’t help,” Goff said.
However, many students in the athletic community feel that there may be favoritism shown towards certain schools in the conference. The lack of Pioneer representation in the weekly awards has not gone unnoticed.
“Not only have I noticed it myself, but I’ve also heard other kids talking about it on campus,” football athlete Michael Abraham ’21 said. “I think it’s unfortunate that we don’t get more recognition and other schools do, especially since we have such great athletes that deserve it.”
According to Goff, the voting process may not be to blame.
“I think it’s a really fair process in terms of there’s an equal number of voters,” Goff said. “I’m a voter so I know that when I approached (sic) the way that I vote for the sports that were assigned I’m not worried about, was it Linfield? I’m not going to be leaning towards a particular school … We work really hard for promoting the best performance because the other reason that this whole program exists is for better justification for national players moving.”
While LC’s athletes may not receive the award as frequently as students from other colleges, there are some players that receive significant recognition. Raed Attia ’19 is in the midst of his final season as a member of the men’s tennis team. He was selected as one of the ten LC student-athletes to receive the NWC Student-Athlete of the Week award after his performance during his matches against Linfield on March 4.
“I have won this award multiple times over my collegiate career, which is always an awesome feeling,” Attia said. “I won it on different occasions for competing at the number one spot in singles and doubles by winning both singles and doubles matches.”
Attia said that despite having won the award in the past, knowing he is one of the few LC student-athletes to receive this recognition is a great accomplishment and something he finds very rewarding.
“You put in so much hard work and effort during practice, so it’s nice to see that effort rewarded,” Attia said. “It’s a great feeling to know that in a given week my performance was the best in the conference. There is a lot of great student-athletes on our opposing teams and every single athlete tries to always bring the best to the table each match. Getting recognized is an honor and it just makes me want to keep up my performance and compete in the best way I can.”
It is clear that winning this award is an honor to receive as an athlete in the NWC and despite the appearance of preference toward certain schools in the conference, the process for selecting each winning recipient does not appear biased. Despite LC athletes not receiving the award as frequently as other schools, the Pioneers host an impressive slew of athletes that will continue to fight to earn the NWC’s Student-Athlete of the Week.