July 31, 2009
· Video: 2008-09 Highlights -- Destinee Hooker
IRVING, Texas -- University of Texas volleyball and track and field standout Destinee Hooker was named the 2008-09 Big 12 Conference Female Athlete of the Year, the league office announced Friday. Hooker became the sixth female and 11th overall student-athlete from UT to earn Big 12 Athlete of the Year honors since the league formed prior to 1996-97 season. Texas' 11 selections are the most in the Big 12, with Oklahoma and Nebraska ranking second with four selections each.
"This is such a great blessing to be named Big 12 Athlete of the Year. It is a little bit of a shock because of the other females in the league that were also nominated and are equally deserving of the honor," Hooker said. "I couldn't have done this without both of my coaching staffs, my parents and my teammates."
In 2008-09, the junior recorded one of the most successful seasons by a female athlete in school history. Competing at the highest level in volleyball along with indoor and outdoor track and field, Hooker helped all three programs record Top Five finishes during their respective NCAA Championships. Volleyball reached the NCAA semifinals for the first time since 1995. Indoor and outdoor track and field finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at NCAAs, marking just the fourth time in program history that the squad finished in the Top Five in both seasons.
"Without question, Destinee is one of the most talented and unique athletes we've had the pleasure of witnessing at The University of Texas. In this day in age in intercollegiate athletics, to be able to handle the work load of a combination of two sports, international experience and just the life of a student, is truly impressive," Texas women's athletics director Chris Plonsky added. "Both of her coaches, Bev (Kearney) and Jerritt (Elliott), are deserving of credit for working together to allow this extraordinary and talented young woman to showcase her abilities."
During the fall volleyball campaign, Hooker started all 33 matches and appeared in all 118 sets while leading the Longhorns to their second straight Big 12 title. She led the Big 12 in points-per-set (4.89), ranked second in kills per-set (4.10) and seventh in hitting percentage (.322). The outside hitter also boasted a team-best 37 service aces. Her season was highlighted by three Big 12 Player of the Week honors and a 24-kill, 17-dig double-double to help defeat No. 3 Nebraska (Nov. 19).
The San Antonio, Texas, native garnered AVCA All-America First Team, Under Armour/Volleyball Magazine All-America First Team, AVCA All-Central Region First Team and All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2008. She also earned NCAA Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team honors after recording 23 kills, 21 digs and hitting .362 against Stanford in the NCAA Semifinals. Hooker also was a nominee for the Volleyball Honda Award (honoring the nation's top volleyball player), becoming just the fourth player in UT history to earn a nomination.
"Destinee is a tremendous athlete and she has put a lot of hard work into what she has accomplished in volleyball and track," Texas Volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "She is one of the premiere female athletes in the country, and she is one of the best female athletes ever at Texas."
On the track, Hooker swept the NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump titles. Hooker became the first athlete since 2004 to win both the indoor and outdoor high jump crowns in the same year.
After taking a year off to train with the USA Volleyball team prior to the 2008 Olympics, Hooker returned to the high jump pit and made herself a force to be reckoned with immediately. In her first collegiate meet since 2007, Hooker cleared a nation-leading height of 6-3.25 (1.91m). She held the nation's top spot throughout the season leading into the Big 12 Championship, where she set a meet record with a jump of 6-4 for her third Big 12 indoor title. Hooker then went on to clear 6-6 (1.98m) for her first career NCAA Indoor high jump title, breaking a nine-year old NCAA indoor collegiate record and an 11-year old Texas record. Following her indoor campaign, Hooker was honored as the USTFCCCA Division I Indoor Female Field Athlete of the Year.
She carried her momentum to the outdoor season and again opened with a nation-leading height of 6-3.25 (1.91m). Hooker completed her sweep of the Big 12 high jump titles with an outdoor personal-best clearance of 6-4.75 (1.95m). She became just the second Big 12 female high jumper to win three outdoor and three indoor crowns since Erin Aldrich (Texas, 1998-2001). Hooker also was victorious at the NCAA Midwest Regional (6-3.25, 1.91m) and was named the USATFCCCA South Central Field Athlete of the Year. In clearing 6-4.75 (1.95m) to win the NCAA Outdoor title, Hooker became the just second female in NCAA history to three-peat in the outdoor event, joining Arizona's Tanya Hughes who accomplished the feat from 1991-93.
When the 2008-09 season came to a close, Hooker had collected two individual National Championships, two individual Big 12 crowns, four total All-America honors and four Big 12 Player of the week selections while leading her teams to one Big 12 Conference crown and three Top Five NCAA Championship team finishes in her respective sports.
Nominees are submitted by each Big 12 institution and selected by a media panel based on 2008-09 athletic performance, academic achievement and citizenship. A new element was added to the selection process this year in which fans were able to cast their votes at Big12Sports.com. Fan voting was included in the final tally for selecting the awards.
Texas' Big 12 Athletes of the Year
2008-09 Destinee Hooker - Volleyball/Track and Field
2005-06 Cat Osterman - Softball
2005-06 Vince Young - Football
2004-05 Cat Osterman - Softball
2004-05 Derrick Johnson - Football
2002-03 Cat Osterman - Softball
1999-00 Erin Aldrich - Volleyball/Track and Field
1998-99 Suziann Reid - Track and Field
1998-99 Ricky Williams - Football
1997-98 Vera Ilyina - Diving
1996-97 Nanceen Perry - Track and Field