HONOLULU – University of Hawai‘i women's basketball player Shawna-Lei Kuehu, women's diver Genevieve Bradley, and men's volleyball player Taylor Averill were the recipients of the 2015 Jack Bonham Award in recognition of their outstanding performances on and off the playing field. The announcement was made Tuesday night at ‘Ahahui Koa ‘Anuenue's H Awards at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The award is given annually to the top male and female senior student-athlete who “best exemplifies the ideals for which Jack Bonham stood for in the areas of athletic excellence, academic achievement, public service, leadership and character.” Kuehu, a four-year letterwinner for the women's basketball team, helped lead the Rainbow Wahine to their first regular season Big West Conference title since 2007-08 and was instrumental in leading UH to three straight postseason appearances in the WNIT. A first-team all-conference selection, Kuehu was recently voted as the team's Most Valuable Player and a two-time recipient of the program's Ah Chew Goo Achievement Award, given to the player who attained basketball excellence through dedication, determination and perseverance.
As a sixth-year senior, Kuehu has endured adversity on and off the court, having overcome a second season-ending knee injury during her freshman season and a high-risk pregnancy during her sophomore season.
“Through it all, she has grown into a beautiful and inspirational person, player, leader, and mother,” head coach Laura Beeman said. “Her ultimate reason for playing now is her daughter, Kaiona. She has also learned to play for herself and not to the expectations of others and embraced her leadership role with the program. Shawna has not only been an exemplary example to her teammates but an inspiration to the state of Hawai‘i – including all the keiki growing up and dreaming of being the next Shawna-Lei Kuehu.”
Bradley, a standout diver for the women's swimming and diving team, worked her way from a walk-on for head coach Mike Brown's nationally recognized diving team to an individual conference champion (platform) this past season. She helped UH claim its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title and just missed out on qualifying for the NCAA Championship, finishing one place out in the final NCAA Zone E standings.
An active member of the UH community, Bradley received the Athletic Department's Lokahi Community Service Award in 2013. She was elected to Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i (ASUH) in 2013 and '14, and is active with the department's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She is currently the President of the Manoa Maniacs student spirit group.
“Genevieve embodies many of the qualities espoused by the late Jack Bonham…she is well rounded student and athlete who left her mark on the University of Hawai‘i because of her willingness to serve the student body and the surrounding community,” Brown said. “Genevieve has succeeded because of her positive attitude and spirit – she knows no limits and works until her tasks are completed. After her graduation this spring, Genevieve's next goal is to become a professional cliff diver, which I have no doubt she will succeed.”
Averill has been instrumental in the men's volleyball team's rise to the top of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and No. 1 national ranking this season. The four-year letterman is considered one of the best middle blockers in the country and among the nation's leaders in hitting percentage (.491) and blocking (1.31 per set). He was recognized twice this season as the MPSF's Player of the Week and is a serious candidate for the National Player of the Year award.
Averill has led the Rainbow Warriors to their best season in years. UH attained its first No. 1 national ranking since 2004, its longest win streak (16) since 2006, its most wins (24) since 2003, and its first trip to the MPSF semifinals since 2010. Averill and the 'Bows are also trying to reach the program's first NCAA Championship since 2002.
“Taylor has excelled in all three areas this award represents – he is an exceptional student, an All-American middle blocker, and is tremendously active in our community,” head coach Charlie Wade said. “He's not only our team's top scholar-athlete but he has one of the highest GPAs in the department for the past two years. He's a first-team All-American and national player of the year caliber. He volunteers for various events – singing Christmas carols to the elderly, reading days at elementary schools. I haven't been around a better representative for the Jack Bonham Award than Taylor Averill.”
Considered the most prestigious award in UH athletics, the Jack Bonham Award is named for the late assistant athletics director who was killed in 1974 in a plane crash in America Samoa. Bonham was returning to the islands from New Zealand where he was on a recruiting trip at the British Commonwealth Games.