MAY 2013

SJR State athlete receives top state awards

It’s been an epic year for student-athlete Matt Pennington. Following the Vikings’ Mid-Florida Conference Championship, the SJR State sophomore has received not only the state’s highest student-athlete award in baseball, he has been named the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) Male Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Pennington, a pitcher from Suwannee High School, was awarded both honors - the Bill Tuten Baseball Award and the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year - based on his accomplishments as a scholar, an athlete and as an ambassador for SJR State.

According to Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach Ross Jones, Pennington’s work ethic and 4.0 GPA is a reflection of his commitment to succeed as a college student. As an athlete, Pennington was 7-5 on the mound for the Vikings this spring, with a 2.42 ERA. As an active member of the student body, Pennington has served as president of the SJR State Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and as a member of the SJR State Student Government Association. Within the community, Matt has represented the College by participating in various community service and public school system events. He is also a member of the First Baptist Church of Palatka.

“Matt Pennington personifies what every coach desires in a student-athlete. He is a young man of unquestionable character who comes along only once in a coach’s career,” Jones said.

Pennington said overall it was a great year for the team, “especially with the conference championship and the way everyone came together,” he said. “It’s not just about me, it’s about our team and what we did on the field and in the classroom. As a team, we had over a 3.0 GPA., a first for the team.”

Pennington’s sophomore year has also included being named the SJR State Student Athlete of the Year and receiving the NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence, as well as being named to the SJR State Hall of Fame and the FCSAA All-Academic Team.

Pennington plans to continue his education and baseball careers at Liberty University in Virginia, where he will major in religion and biblical studies.

The Bill Tuten Baseball Scholar-Athlete Award is named after one of SJR State’s original faculty members. In 1958, Tuten organized the College’s first basketball team and spent the next 35 years as a coach and mentor. On a state level, he was named a member of the FCSAA Hall of Fame and served as the FCSAA Athletic Commissioner and NJCAA Region Director for 24 years.