University Park, Pa. — Former Nittany Lions Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) and Jason Yeisley (Allentown, Pa.) have been selected as the 2010 Penn State Athletes of the Year. Hodge, a four-time All-American, led the women’s volleyball team to three consecutive national championships while Yeisley was a three-time All-Big Ten men’s soccer player.
Yeisley and Hodge are now, respectively, eligible for the Big Ten’s Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award and Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year Award. The award recipients will be announced exclusively as part of the Big Ten Network Awards Show at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 23.
This year’s Honda Award winner for women’s volleyball, Hodge closed out her Penn State career with the program’s third straight NCAA Championship in women’s volleyball. Part of the winningest class in program history, Hodge amassed a career record of 142-5 (97 percent) and helped lead the Nittany Lions on a record-breaking 102-match winning streak during her final three seasons. Hodge became one of just two Nittany Lions to surpass the 2,000 career kills milestone and finished second all-time at Penn State and fifth in the Big Ten with 2,142. She averaged 4.67 kills per set her senior year to lead the Big Ten and rank eighth in the nation, and leaves Penn State holding the career record with 4.54 kills per set.
The 2009 AVCA Division I National Player of the Year, Hodge picked up numerous accolades during her four-year run. She became Penn State’s fourth four-time AVCA First Team All-American and was chosen as the Big Ten Player of the Year for the second time in her career after being chosen as a freshman in 2006. Hodge, a finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award, was a four-time first team All-Big Ten honoree. Following the 2009 National Championship, Hodge and her teammates were honored as the Dapper Dan Sportswomen of the Year and honored with a Special Achievement Award by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. The Touchdown Club of Columbus also named her its Female Athlete of the Year.
A stellar athlete on the court, Hodge was also a top-notch student. A 2008 CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-American, Hodge garnered 2009 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America honors and was chosen as the Academic All-American of the Year for volleyball. In addition, Hodge garnered Academic All-Big Ten laurels three times.
Yeisley, the third men’s soccer player to be selected as Penn State Male Student-Athlete of the Year and the first since Nigel Sparks in 1993, departed Happy Valley following a distinguished and highly decorated collegiate career marked both by excellence and adversity. After missing the 2008 season while recovering from the second serious knee injury of his career, he battled back to return for his senior season. Yeisley’s hard work paid off, as he flourished in 2009, leading Penn State to 12 wins, including an undefeated regular season home record, a second place finish in the Big Ten, the Big Ten Tournament title game, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He was a central figure on the Big Ten’s top scoring offense, totaling eight goals and five assists to tie for second on the team with 21 points. During the year, Yeisley was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 7) for the second time in his career and to the Soccer America Team of the Week (Sept. 6), the College Soccer News National Team of the Week (Oct. 4), and to the all-tournament teams for the Wolstein and Penn State Classics.
Yeisley’s standout season culminated with his selection by the conference coaches as Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and, for the second time in his career, first team All-Big Ten. He also received national recognition, earning a selection to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Second Team. Yeisley then realized a lifelong dream in January when he was drafted by Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas and has since became Penn State’s first player to make an MLS roster.
In recognition of excellence achieved on and off the field of play, Yeisley was announced as the 2009 winner of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for men’s soccer, an honor presented annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I men’s soccer. He then went on to be named the 2010 male recipient of the Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award, Penn State’s Big Ten Sportsmanship award winner as well as the Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient.
Also a standout in the classroom, Yeisley graduated in December 2009 with a 3.61 grade point average, earning a degree in management from the Smeal College of Business. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient, 2007 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team selection, and 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honoree, he was named one of just two Division I men’s soccer recipients of a 2009-10 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
Penn State won two NCAA Championships and five Big Ten crowns in 2009-10. Penn State has won 19 NCAA Championships since 1993-94, its first full year in the Big Ten Conference, more than double every other Big Ten institution. Iowa and Minnesota are tied for second with nine. The Nittany Lions have won 24 Big Ten titles since 2005-06, the second-highest total in the conference. Penn State was No. 8 in the latest Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 when Indiana’s Jim Spivey earned the inaugural award. The following year, a women’s award was created. In 1991-92 as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of women’s athletics in the Conference, the women’s award was renamed in honor of former Wisconsin track standout and three-time recipient Suzy Favor.