Kovacs, McElheny Receive U-M's Big Ten Sportsmanship Awards
Jordan Kovacs (L) and Claire McElheny

May 30, 2013

PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The Big Ten Conference announced the 24 Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2012-13 academic year on Thursday (May 30), honoring a male and female athlete from each of the 12 league members.

University of Michigan football fifth-year safety Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay) and volleyball senior right side Claire McElheny (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf Prep) were named the Wolverines' sportsmanship award winners.

In addition, one student-athlete from each varsity program was also recognized by exemplifying the principles of good sportsmanship through their conduct during and after competition.

Kovacs, who is a two-time recipient of this honor, ended his Michigan career playing in 50 games with 46 starts and ranks 12th all-time with 334 tackles. The former walk-on safety was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten choice and was a second-team all-conference selection by the league's coaches as a senior. A 2012 team captain, Kovacs won the Bo Schembechler Team MVP after the season.

Kovacs was a Burlsworth Trophy finalist for the top walk-on in the nation. He was named Michigan's Robert P. Ufer Bequest spirit award recipient and named a semifinalist for the prestigious Wooden Citizenship Cup. Kovacs was a Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist and was active in visiting Mott's Children's Hospital every Thursday and participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletics (FCA).

McElheny was the lone senior on a Michigan volleyball team that advanced to the NCAA national semifinals for the first time in program history. McElheny was a co-captain who appeared in 30 matches, starting 28 times. She put up double-digit kills in 11 of those matches and averaged 2.33 kills per set. McElheny led the Wolverines to the Final Four with an impressive 11 kills and five digs in a four-set win against No. 2 Stanford in the NCAA Regional Final.

After sitting out her first season due to injury, McElheny was still limited during her redshirt freshman campaign. Forced to switch positions out of the middle and move to the right side, McElheny embraced the change and carved out a role for herself by the time she was a regular in the lineup as a redshirt sophomore. She went on to start 79 of the final 98 matches of her career.

To earn the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, student-athletes must be in good academic standing and must have demonstrated good citizenship outside the sports-competition setting.

One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by his or her institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree. From each university's list, two Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected.


Baseball: Patrick Biondi
Men's Basketball: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Women's Basketball: Jenny Ryan
Men's Cross Country: Zach Ornelas
Women's Cross Country: Lindsey Hilton
Field Hockey: Liesl Morris
Football: Jordan Kovacs
Men's Golf: Matt Alessi
Women's Golf: Lauren Grogan
Men's Gymnastics: Stacey Ervin
Women's Gymnastics: Teresa Arthur
Ice Hockey: Jeff Rohrkemper
Men's Lacrosse: Jeff Chu
Rowing: Colleen Macke
Men's Soccer: Noble Sullivan
Women's Soccer: Clare Stachel
Softball: Jaclyn Crummey
Men's Swimming and Diving: Tim Hochradel*
Women's Swimming and Diving: Kally Fayhee
Men's Tennis: Alex Petrone
Women's Tennis: Sarah Lee
Men's Indoor Track and Field: Bobby Aprill
Men's Outdoor Track and Field: Matthew Campbell
Women's Indoor Track and Field: Amber Smith
Women's Outdoor Track and Field: Kiley Tobel
Volleyball: Claire McElheny
Water Polo: Natalie Naruns
Wrestling: Ben Apland

* Student manager