June 8, 2007
Courtesy of GoDuke.com
DURHAM, N.C.- Duke University rising junior Christie McDonald is one of five nationwide student-athletes that will be honored with the 2007 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Award. McDonald is a defender on the nationally ranked women's soccer team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round in 2006.
"From what I have read about Wilma Rudolph, it is such a humbling experience for me to be in the same company," said McDonald. "I really appreciate the N4A for seeing my story and thinking that I was deserving of this award."
The National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) presents the award, as it has done annually since 1991. It is named in honor of Wilma Rudolph whose life is a story of achieving against the odds. Diagnosed with polio at a young age, Wilma was told that she would never walk again. With undying love and assistance from her family, by the age of 12, she could walk normally without crutches, braces or corrective shoes. It was then that she decided to become an athlete. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Wilma Rudolph became the first America woman to win three gold medals: 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and the anchor on the 400-meter relay team.
The award named in her honor recognizes student athletes who have overcome great personal, academic, and/or emotional odds to achieve academic and athletic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics. Award winners may not the best athletes or students and therefore may not have been recognized by other organizations or awards. Nonetheless, they have persevered and made significant personal strides toward success. The common thread for each year's recipients is motivation or drive to succeed and the work ethic that overcomes difficult situations.
McDonald, who is a native of Newnan, Ga., was diagnosed with a brain tumor towards the end of April 2006 and underwent surgery on May 12 to remove a 1.5-centimeter tumor from the left side of her brain. With the surgery, she lost some of her auditory and balance nerves so she had to learn how to walk again during her recovery. McDonald also lost hearing in her left ear during the procedure.
By mid-summer, she made her way back to Duke for second session summer school and was determined to make it back for the fall soccer season. McDonald gradually started exercising and working with a soccer ball but battled fatigue and dizzy spells. All of her hard work over the summer produced excellent results as during preseason workouts she was one of the fittest student-athletes on the Blue Devil squad.
McDonald started the first game of the season on August 25, which was only 106 days after her surgery. She registered an assist in a 3-1 victory against St. Louis and scored her lone goal of the season on Sept. 17 against Marquette on a header. McDonald went on to start 18 of 21 matches and played a key role in Duke, which posted a 9-8-4 overall record, collecting nine shutouts on the season.
The banquet for the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Award will take place on Sunday, June 10 at the Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix, Ariz., which is during the N4A's National Convention.