Andrew Rodriguez Named 2011 James E. Sullivan Award Winner

Andrew Rodriguez

Outstanding Army Athlete Announced by AAU in Ceremony in NYC

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – (March 20, 2012) – In ceremonies tonight at the prestigious New York Athletic Club, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced that Andrew Rodriguez, a football player from Alexandria, Virginia, has been named the 2011 James E. Sullivan Award winner, which honors the nation’s outstanding amateur athletes. Presented annually since 1930, the Sullivan award is based on character, leadership and sportsmanship. Notable recipients of the AAU Sullivan Award include: Mark Spitz, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Joyner, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, J.J. Redick, Tim Tebow, and Shawn Johnson.

Supported by his Army head football coach, Rich Ellerson, and numerous family members, Rodriguez said, “It is an incredible honor to win this award – and a tribute to everyone I’ve had with me in my life, from my family to my coaches to my teammates.”  He went on to pay tribute to the servicemen and women around the world who enjoy watching sports, adding, “They are who we play for and this award goes out to them.”  Following graduation this spring, Rodriguez begins infantry training in Georgia before reporting to his first duty station in Vicenza, Italy.

Rodriguez was selected for his athleticism and sportsmanship in collegiate football at West Point, as well as for his achievements off the field. As a sophomore in 2009, Rodriguez stepped into the starting lineup at linebacker and led the Army Black Knights with 85 tackles while also registering two interceptions, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. He recorded a career-best 15 tackles versus archrival Navy and also posted 14 stops against rival Air Force that season. Rodriguez missed the entire 2010 season due to what was originally thought to be a career-ending back injury, but returned as a team captain in 2011 to appear in all 11 contests.

Notably, Rodriguez is the sixth football player to win the AAU Sullivan Award in its 82-year history, and only the second Army football player to win the award.  Felix Blanchard, also from Army, was the first football player to win the Sullivan Award in 1945.

In addition to athletic achievements, Rodriguez excels in the classroom. Carrying a 4.14 GPA as a mechanical engineering major, Rodriguez ranks third in a class of 1,052 cadets. Rodriguez is Army’s first Campbell Trophy winner and the school’s 14th National Football Foundation’s National Scholar-Athlete. He joins 1990 Campbell Trophy winner Chris Howard (Air Force) as the only winners representing a service academy.

“I am extremely proud of the Andrew Rodriguez and congratulate him for his selection as the 2011 AAU James E. Sullivan Award winner,” said Louis Stout, President of the AAU. “Andrew is one of the best and the brightest among the hundreds of thousands of amateur athletes who are pursuing their dreams. Not just on the field, he demonstrates character and leadership in the classroom and in his community. On behalf of the AAU, we welcome Andrew as the 83rd member of this elite group of amateur athletes – Sullivan award winners – who have earned the highest honor the AAU bestows.”

Six finalists were selected from personal nominations following a review by the AAU Sullivan Award Executive Committee.  Rodriguez was chosen through voting by select members of the media, previous winners and AAU staff. The public was also allowed input through nationwide polling on the USA Today website.

Finalists for the 2011 James E. Sullivan Award from the AAU:

Jillian Camarena-Williams

USA Track & Field

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Jillian Camarena-Williams set an American record and won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships, which was the first-ever medal by an American woman shot putter at any world championship. Outside of track and field, she has coached athletes in the Special Olympics and helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Alex Jupiter

USC Volleyball

Hometown: Paris, France (resides in California)

Named the 2011 Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year, Alex Jupiter is the first Southern Cal player in school history to earn the AVCA National Player of the Year award.

Jason Read

US Rowing, Temple University

Hometown: Ringoes, New Jersey

Jason Read is an Olympic Gold Medalist and has been rowing for the United States since 1995. Read is a rowing coach, volunteer firefighter and an EMT, and was recognized for his 9/11 rescue work at Ground Zero.

Katherine Reutter

USA Speedskating

Hometown: Champaign, Illinois

Katherine Reutter won 13 medals during the 2010-11 World Cup season, and was the 1,500-meter world champion in 2011.  The first American woman to win an individual and overall World Cup title, Reutter also won silver and bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She visits schools to promote short track speedskating and encourages kids to get involved and be more active.  Reutter has also volunteered her time with Habitat for Humanity.

Jordyn Wieber

USA Gymnastics

Hometown: DeWitt, Michigan

In 2011, Jordyn Wieber won the women’s all-around at the World Championships and led the USA to a team gold medal. She also won the all-around at the 2011 American Cup and Visa Championships. In her community, Wieber volunteers at her church and at a local hospital, and participates in various community fundraisers.

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