NIU Gymnast Ashlee Williams Earns Third Straight Academic All-MAC Honor

GO HUSKIES Ashlee Williams earned her Third Academic All-MAC award
Ashlee Williams earned her Third Academic All-MAC award

March 31, 2006

Cleveland, OH -- Pardon the pun, but when it came to Ashlee William's candidacy for Academic All-Mid-American Conference, her third consecutive honor was a no-brainer.

Among the 10 gymnasts named to the leageu's academic unit, Williams is the only three-time Academic All-MAC selection and one of only two honorees with a perfect 4.00 grade-point-average. The squad is votedon by the conference's faculty athletic representatives based upon nominations made by the loop coaches and sports information personnel. Williams, along with fellow 4.00 biological sciences major Jessica Guyer from Bowling Green State Unviersity, are among the four seniors selected along with six juniors from among 31 total nominees.

"Whether it's athletically or academically, Ashlee has always achieved above and beyond. I know there are many deserving girls just on our team and of course league-wide, but I don't know if I've ever seen anyone so committed to success in both venues as Ashlee," NIU coach Mark Sontag said. "When someone like Ashlee graduates, it's the toughest time to be a coach. You're certainly happy for them and their success, but you know they're leaving a big hole to fill. In Ashlee's case, she truly represents everything we strive for as a program."

Williams, who had to come back from an injury which sidelined her for three early meets, tied for fourth on the uneven parallel bars (9.725) in the Mid-American Conference Championships and tied for eighth on floor exercise (9.775). In addition, she earned the league's Specialist of the Week honor on March 7, 2006 -- one of three times she was nominated for that award -- and was also the MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week for March 27.

The latter award came just after she shared the uneven bars title at the State of Illinois Classic where she picked up Scholastic All-State honors for a fourth straight year. It was also the second consecutive year she claimed the bars title in the annual meet which features the state's four Division I gymnastics programs.

As a junior, she was the only MAC gymnast to win both the Gymnast of the Week (Jan. 3, 2005) and Specialist of the Week (Feb. 21, 2005) honors before earning First-Team All-MAC and becoming the MAC uneven bars co-champion as well as a 2005 Commissioner's Award recipient. Her league resume also includes being the Mid-Am Freshman of the Year in 2003. She has been nominated for a fourth straight National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women Academic All-America honor and will become a four-time Victory Level (3.50 GPA and up) honoree in NIU's own Academic Excellence program. In addition, she's a 2006 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship nominee.

The Academic All-MAC Gymnasts team includes: Kelly Watson (Ball State / Jr. / 3.797 / Physical Education), Lauren West (Ball State / Jr. / 3.833 / Elementary Education), Jessica Guyer (Bowling Green State / Sr. / 4.000 / Biological Sciences), Stephanie Langley (Central Michigan / Sr. / 3.39 / Sports Studies), Jules Passy (Central Michigan / Jr. / 3.62 / Health Fitness), Sheena Smith (Central Michigan / Jr. / 3.33 / Broadcast and Cinematic Arts), Rebecca Fuss (Eastern Michigan / Jr. / 3.70 / Psychology), Ashlee Williams (Northern Illinois / Sr. / 4.00 / Biological Sciences), Cherise Marier (Western Michigan / Sr. / 3.86 / Bio-Chemistry), and Jennifer Sturgis (Western Michigan / Jr. / 3.63 / Nursing).

(For further information, please contact Steve Nemeth) --NIU--