|Each month, The University of Texas women's and men's athletic academic/student services staffs select a female and male student-athlete as the "Longhorn PRIDE Student-Athlete of the Month." PRIDE stands for "Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence." The Longhorn PRIDE program, which has been singled out as one of the nation's best athletics "life skills" programs, supports student-athlete development in five areas: academics, athletics, personal development, career development and community service.
Junior · Sprints/Relays
Houston, Texas (Forest Brook HS)
Junior · Sprints/Hurdles
Houston, Texas (Forest Brook HS)
Since arriving at UT, the junior duo of LaTashia Kerr and Sheretta Jones have been standout student-athletes for their numerous track accolades, which include several Big 12 awards as well as All-American honors. Behind the scenes, Kerr and Jones have also quietly established themselves as two of the most dedicated student-athletes at UT through academic prowess as well as community service work. This type of all-around commitment has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by their head coach, Bev Kearney.
"Sheretta and LaTashia are two of the most disciplined student-athletes I've ever had the pleasure to coach," Kearney said. "They are unbelievable in terms of balancing schoolwork, athletics, and volunteer and community service work. They are both very dedicated and committed to being the best they can be at whatever they choose to do."
Kerr and Jones have been applying themselves academically and athletically long before their time on the Forty Acres as teammates on the Forest Brook High School's track team in Houston. Not only did their track achievements rank among the best in the state out of high school, but Kerr and Jones were members of the National Honor Society, and contributed what free time they had to community service projects such as the Houston Food Bank, the American Red Cross, Toys for Tots, and adopt a family programs.
Most impressive, despite all those commitments, Kerr and Jones were two of the top students in their high school. Jones graduated atop the class rankings as valedictorian, and Kerr graduated fourth in their class.
Kearney is grateful to have those leadership skills on her team now, as Kerr and Jones have helped serve as mentors to some of their younger teammates.
"They bring a certain stability to the team, and set a positive example for everyone," Kearney said. "It's always great to have people on the team you can point to and say 'do it like LaTashia or Sheretta do it.' They're considered two of the veterans now, and it is always nice to have examples like them for the younger athletes."
Their awards are numerous.
Kerr is a four-time All-Big 12 selection and earned All-American honors as part of the 4x400 meter relay team which finished sixth at the 2004 NCAA outdoor nationals in Austin last June. During this year's indoor season, she was Big 12 champion in part of UT's winning 4x400 meter relay and also earned All-Big 12 honors in the 200 and 400 meter sprints.
Balancing this with her demanding nursing major, LaTashia has been rewarded for her academic achievements. At this year's annual UT Women's Athletics Awards banquet, Kerr received a 2005 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award, given to minority student athletes who carry a GPA of 3.2 or higher. She also received the 2004-05 UT Athletics Barbara Jordan Endowed Scholarship, established in the former Texas congresswomen's honor.
Jones has experienced similar success to the tune of being named a seven-time All-Big 12 performer, a two-time Big 12 relay champion, and an NCAA Champion and All-American in 2004 as part of UT's national indoor champion 4x400 meter relay. Additionally, the accounting major has achieved equally as impressive academic awards by earning Academic All-Big 12 First Team and CoSIDA Academic All-District VI Second Team honors in 2004.
At this spring's annual UT Women's Athletics awards banquet, Sheretta earned the 2004-05 IAW Memorial Scholarship as the track academic MVP.
Kearney is pleased to see Kerr and Jones' remarkable all-around résumé's go rewarded with April's Longhorn Pride Student-Athlete of the Month Honors.
"It's an honor to see how appreciated they are for the type of efforts they have put in," Kearney concluded. "To receive an All-American honor is only athletically based, but to also be considered a great student-athlete is the epitome of why you're at this university."
Senior · Distances
Chicago, Ill. (St. Ignatius HS)
As an established performer on the men's track and field team, senior Mark Floreani has received numerous accolades for his success. These awards include being named a three-time All-Big 12 selection, and an All-American. Still, it is Floreani's all-around dedication to his academics, as well as to the team, which has garnered the most praise from his men's track and field head coach Bubba Thornton.
"Mark has done an outstanding job of taking care of his business in the classroom and for the team, and by doing so, he's demonstrated what is necessary to be successful here at the University of Texas," Thornton said.
An economics major, Mark was singled out for two honors at the UT men's academic banquet on April 25. He received one of the Provost Awards for posting a perfect 4.0 GPA for at least one semester in 2004, and was the 2004-05 recipient of The Lan Hewlett Award for track and field - an honor which goes to a junior or senior letterman with the highest cumulative GPA in each men's sport.
Floreani has been a consistent performer since his freshman season in 2002 when he won the 3,000m steeplechase at the Longhorn Invitational in his outdoor collegiate debut. In the two-plus seasons since, Floreani has earned back-to-back All-Big 12 honors in the steeplechase (in 2003 and 2004)., Floreani's best time in the steeplechase (8:48:74) currently ranks him sixth all-time in UT history in that demanding event.
With accomplishments such as these, it is not hard to see why Floreani has helped Texas compete for Big 12 and NCAA dominance since his arrival on the 40 Acres.
"Mark is very self-disciplined and motivated in all aspects of his life," Thornton concluded. "He has done a great job academically and athletically, he brings the right attitude to the track. Day in and day out, he just shows what it means to be a great guy."