New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and University of Washington basketball star Kelsey Plum have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Male and Female Athletes of the Month for February.
Brady completed 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI on 5 February 2017. Brady was named the game’s MVP after leading the Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter, the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. His 466 passing yards and 62 passing attempts were also Super Bowl records.
Plum scored a career best 57 points in a win against Utah State on 25 February 2017 and broke the NCAA women’s all-time scoring record with 3,397 career points. Plum is averaging an NCAA women’s best 30.9 points per game and has not scored fewer than 21 points in a game the entire season. On 28 February, Plum was named the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year.
The two athletes are now eligible to be considered for the Academy’s prestigious Athlete of the Year Award at year’s end.
The second place finisher on the men’s side was American boxer Deontay Wilder and third place went to University of Oregon track and field athlete Edward Cheserek.
Wilder retained his WBC heavyweight title with a fifth round knockout of challenger Gerald Washington on 25 February 2017 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. The win extended Wilder’s professional record to 38-0 with 37 TKOs.
Cheserek wrote his name into the record books with a collegiate record breaking 3:52.01 mile at the Boston University Last Chance Meet in Boston, Mass., on 26 February 2017. The previous collegiate mile record of 3:52.88 was set by Arizona’s Lawi Lalang in 2014.
The second place finisher on the women’s side was American swimmer Katie Ledecky and third place went to Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba.
Swimming for Stanford University, Ledecky broke three pool records in a meet at the University of California on 11 February 2017. Ledecky won the 1,000 yard freestyle in 9:20.41, lapping all but one swimmer and winning by 26 seconds. Six minutes later, she broke the pool record in the 200 yard freestyle, prevailing over Olympic 100 meter freestyle champion Simone Manuel. She then broke the pool record in the 500 yard freestyle.
Runner Dibaba broke the 2,000 meter world record with an indoor time of 5:23.75 in the Miting Internacional de Catalunya in Sabadell, Spain on 7 February 2017. Her time took nearly seven seconds off the previous indoor world record set in 1998 and nearly two seconds off the world outdoor record, set in 1994.
Each month, the public is invited to participate in the Academy’s worldwide Athlete of the Month program by nominating athletes and then voting online during the first week of every month. The online votes are used to guide the Academy selection committee in choosing the male and female monthly winners, who then become eligible for selection to the prestigious Athlete of the Year ballot. A worldwide public vote on the annual ballot is used to guide the committee in making the final selection.
The Athlete of the Year Award is part of the United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport program, which each year serves as “A Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete in several different arenas of sport.
The awards honor exemplary achievement in coaching, all-around athletic performance, courage, humanitarian activity, fitness, and media, among others. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Medallion Series, Distinguished Service Awards, Outstanding Athletes, and Alumni of the Year awards. This is the 33rd year of the Academy’s Awards of Sport program.
Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.
Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,700 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. The museum is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information, go to www.asama.org.
By Eric Mann
Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.