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CSUN Athletics Celebrates Scholar-Athletes at 42nd Annual Varsity N Ceremony

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - CSUN Athletics celebrated 139 student-athletes at the 42nd annual Varsity N Athletics Honor Roll Ceremony on Monday evening (April 8).

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - CSUN Athletics celebrated the academic excellence of 139 student-athletes at the 42nd annual Varsity N Athletics Honor Roll Ceremony on Monday evening (April 8).

The event, held at the Soraya on campus, featured guest speakers and special awards and honored Matadors who have competed for at least one season and have a minimum 3.2 grade point average (GPA) for the two most recently completed semesters. 

Monday's ceremony marked the 42nd anniversary of the Varsity N which was originated by the late CSUN professor Dr. James Sefton. Doc Sefton had a special relationship with Matador Athletics and initiated CSUN's annual academic recognition of student-athletes in 1982, which is now known as Varsity N.
CSUN alum Bill Courtland, a familiar voice at Matador sporting events, emceed the evening's ceremonies, which started with remarks from CSUN Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Meera Komarraju and CSUN's Vice President for Administration and Finance & Chief Financial Officer, Colin Donahue. 

Griffin Walters

Following the individual recognition of each of the night's awardees in each sport, Griffin Walters of the CSUN men's volleyball team shared his experiences dealing with pressure as a fifth-year student-athlete.

"Sometimes we have to look above how we're feeling in the moment to recognize the light that supports our lives," he said. "We have the opportunity here to feel those pressures before they have real consequences. We have an incredible village of people whose sole purpose is to help us succeed. We get the chance to do something we love while being surrounded by great people who are more connected than meets the eye. I encourage you guys to think about these things when pressure feels like it's starting to work against you, and remember that being grateful is the best way to stay present."

CSUN Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Cedric Hackett then announced the Team Academic Awards. The Matador women's tennis team was honored for the fifth year in a row after accumulating a team grade point average of 3.60. The CSUN men's volleyball team was honored for the third straight year for having the highest average team GPA out of the men's sports at 3.22.

Senior Associate Athletics Director/Chief Operating Officer & Senior Woman Administrator, Sonia Hahn then announced the Scholar-Athletes of the Year. Typically two student-athletes are honored for achieving the highest GPA's out of all CSUN student-athletes. For only the fourth time in Varsity N history, five student-athletes shared the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award while three student-athletes were honored as Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The list of female winners to achieve academic excellence included Kaylee Escutia (softball), Alexis Garcia (softball), Shaylan Whatman (softball), Tasha Mae (beach volleyball), and Ashley Cruz (soccer). On the men's side, Kamau Neighbors (baseball), Eion Kingsley (soccer), and Matteo Salvador (volleyball) were honored for their academic excellence.
Dr. Paul Lazarony, CSUN's Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Studies, then presented the Rising Matador Award for 2023. The award honors new freshmen and transfers that earned a 4.00 grade point average in the fall of 2023. The list of recipients included Liam Judkins (men's golf), Nicole Tanoue (women's golf), Michael Blevins (men's soccer), Ryan Chu (men's soccer), Sebastian Fuentes (men's soccer), Pauline Gericke (women's soccer), Daisy Torres (women's soccer), Tyler Connelly (men's track & field), Antonio Edwin (men's track & field), Gabriel Martinez (men's track & field), Sakura Divecchio (women's cross country), Niall Finnegan (men's volleyball), Madison DiGiorgio (women's volleyball), Haley Coggins (beach volleyball), Nicole West (women's tennis), and Sydney Wilson (women's tennis). 

Whatman then delivered a heartfelt speech on the challenges of playing at three different schools while being far from home throughout her collegiate career.

Shaylan Whatman

"My last 2 years here have brought me so much joy through the people I get to interact with day in and day out, whether that be my coaches, my teammates or my professors." Whatman said. "No matter what challenges I'm facing on any given day, CSUN has provided me with the support network I have needed to embrace and overcome anything thrown my way. Receiving Varsity N Honors is truly a special achievement, because it recognizes all the hard work that is put in off the field each and every day."

The event concluded with closing remarks from Director of the Matador Achievement Center, Lindsey Schantz before all 139 recipients assembled on the Soraya's grand staircase for a group photo.
Since the inaugural event in 1982, over 1,000 student-athletes have been inducted into Varsity N.

Gallery: (4-9-2024) 2024 Varsity N Ceremony


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