With two Sam Houston sports teams (baseball and women’s track and field) competing in NCAA Championships action in June, another outstanding intercollegiate sports season closes for Sam Houston State University.
Highlighting the completion of the 2015-16 intercollegiate sports year is the addition of yet another trophy to the Bearkats’ collection of Southland Conference “All-Sports” Cups as the Bearkats won their third consecutive Southland Men’s All-Sports Cup. Sam Houston now stands as the only current member of the league to win the men’s all-sports title five times.
Director of athletics Bobby Williams was presented Sam Houston’s latest cup trophy by league commissioner Tom Burnett at the annual annual Southland Conference Honors Dinner Tuesday May 24 at the Westin Stonebriar Resort in Frisco, Texas.
Williams has brought home hardware from each of the last four Honors Dinners including Commissioners’ Cups in 2013 and 2014, men’s all-sports titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and a women’s all-sports cup in 2013.
“Winning Southland Conference All-Sports titles is important because each of our sports programs contributes to a Cup victory,” Williams said. “If every sport is important, then every student-athlete, coach, manager, trainer and administrative staff member is important. The pursuit of these Cup titles is something that has brought this department together as an athletic program.”
Sam Houston previously won the men’s cup in 2000, 2007, 2014 and 2015. This year, SHSU men’s teams hoisted championship trophies in indoor track and field and baseball; finished as runners-up in football and outdoor track and field and took third place in golf and basketball.
The baseball team followed up its title by becoming only the third squad in league history to win both the regular season and tournament championships. Football extended its run as the Southland’s most successful competitor in NCAA Division I Football Championship post-season play with the program’s fourth appearance in the semifinals in the past five years.
Overall during Williams’ tenure as director of athletics, the Bearkats have won 11 league all-sports cups including the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2014. Since 2000, Sam Houston teams have won 37 league titles (counting both regular season and tournament play) and earned 25 “Coach of the Year” awards.
Sam Houston also saw success in women’s athletics with the track and field team winning both the indoor and outdoor league championships this year. The soccer team post its most successful season with 10 victories. Both the soccer and women’s basketball squads reached the Southland tournament championship game. Volleyball was a semi-finalist in its post-season event.
Sam Houston ranks not only as one of the Southland’s winningest sports programs. The Bearkats have also made their mark among all Texas NCAA Division I universities.
The Bearkat football team leads all Texas programs in victories during the past five seasons (since 2011). The Kats have won 56 games on the gridiron followed by Baylor 50, Houston 48, TCU 45 and Texas A&M 43.
The baseball team’s appearance in the NCAA Regionals in Lafayette, La., is the program’s seventh in the past decade, ranking Sam Houston along with Texas A&M, Rice, TCU and Texas as the only baseball teams with seven or more trips to the national playoffs.
Bearkat student-athletes also recognized by the Southland for their efforts to serve the Huntsville community. Sam Houston’s annual Pop-Tab Collection drive raises funds for the Ronald McDonald House at M. D. Anderson in Houston. Bearkat student-athletes logged more than 2,200 hours of work in community service projects during the year.
“Giving back to the Huntsville community is so important to our student-athletes here at Sam Houston,” Chris Thompson, associate athletic director for student services, said. “The men and women who represent this university on the playing field and in the area well deserve this recognition.”
Other community service projects in which Sam Houston student-athletes participated included the Fight Hunger Drive in which Bearkats helped unload Houston Food Bank trucks, appearances at the Huntsville Boys and Girls club, visits to area Huntsville Independent School District (HISD) locations to promote reading skills and drug awareness and the annual Christmas school supplies drive for local elementary children.
Sam Houston’s student-athletes achieve in the classroom as well, producing a fall semester grade point average of 3.22, highest in department history. The overall grade point average for the more than 400 Bearkat student-athletes stands as a mark higher than the general student population at the university.
Since 2007, 20 SHSU student-athletes have earned recognition as their individual sport’s Southland Conference “Student-Athlete of the Year” a total of 24 times. The award is based on both performance in the arena and in the classroom. Senior Danielle Demas was the league’s 2016 women’s indoor track and field “Student-Athlete of the Year” honoree.
Janine Kuwahara earned the coveted NCAA Elite 90 Award presented to the top academic performer at each NCAA national championship in April at the women’s bowling national championships.
Sam Houston supporters can become part of the winning team by helping the University accomplish its goal of defining the term "student-athlete" while enjoying the benefits of being a Bearkat Champion.
Bearkat Champion annual fund dollars go toward enhancing the student-athlete experience specifically in the areas of academic, athletic training and medical and strength and conditioning services as well as helping with the rising costs of tuition, room and board, equipment and travel and facilities. Every dollar donated to the Bearkat Champions fund counts.
Give to the Bearkat Champions Fund today and not only help the athletic program but also enjoy individual benefits.
A minimum investment of $100 each year earns individuals priority towards NCAA playoff games, premium road contests like the Battle of the Piney Woods tickets, season ticket seating location, premium parking and invitation-only special events.