Saturday, November 17

Nuveman in race for ESPY award


By J.P. Hoornstra

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

[email protected]

  EDWARD LIN/Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Stacey Nuveman has a chance to become the second Bruin to win an
ESPY since Ed O’Bannon won Outstanding College Basketball
Performer of the Year in 1996.

It’s not the Academy Awards. Not even the Grammys. But in
its 10 years of existence, the ESPY awards have found their niche
in our culture.

With trophies honoring the best athletes in all major sports,
along with kitschy categories like “Outstanding Performance
by an Athlete in Entertainment” (won by Charles Barkley in
1994 for his one-on-one hoops demolition of Barney on
“Saturday Night Live”), the ESPYs have entered the
mainstream consciousness as an unofficial, yet significant,
barometer of sports greatness.

In addition to tackling categories that no awards show has
tackled before (“Best Bowler,” “Best Sports
Movie,” “Best Outdoors Athlete”), the choices of
Best Male and Female Athlete carry longer-lasting national
influence.

Hitting closer to home is the race for Best Female College
Athlete. UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman has a chance to bring home
only the second ESPY in school history, the first since Ed
O’Bannon was chosen Outstanding College Basketball Performer
of the Year in 1996.

“It’s pretty amazing (to be nominated),” the
All-American catcher said. “It’s quite
unbelievable.”

These aren’t words of false modesty. This is the first
year that the women’s award has been open to non-basketball
players, and three were nominated.

Along with Nuveman, Arizona pitcher/first baseman Jennie Finch,
Cal swimmer Natalie Coughlin, hoopsters Sue Bird of Connecticut and
Jackie Stiles of SW Missouri State are up for the award.

Who is the favorite?

“It’s between Sue Bird and Jackie Stiles,”
Nuveman said. “Because of the high profile of women’s
basketball, and looking at the panel (who selects the winner), (I
think) they probably don’t follow college softball. Their
sport is much more in the media.”

Bird helped Connecticut to what may have been the best season in
NCAA women’s basketball history. The Huskies went 39-0 and
defeated Oklahoma 82-70 in the national title game, with Bird
hitting six free throws in the final 61 seconds. However, she was
only the third-leading scorer on a balanced team.

Stiles is the favorite after setting two monumental NCAA records
during her senior year in 2001 with most career points scored
(3,393) and most points in a season (1062). She led the nation in
points per game each of her last two years.

Coughlin is the dark horse candidate to win. Based on
credentials alone, she wins the award hands-down. She set American
records at the 2002 NCAA championships in four different events:
the 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter backstroke, 100-meter freestyle
and 100-meter butterfly. Her sport, however, is one of the least
noticeable in the NCAA.

Finch pitched and played first base for the Wildcats for each of
the last four years. As a pitcher, she set the career record for
most consecutive wins (60) and compiled a career 119-16 record. In
2002, she went 34-6 with a 0.97 ERA.

Nuveman, meanwhile, spent the last four years at UCLA
establishing herself as the Babe Ruth of softball. She owns the
NCAA records for most career home runs (90) and highest career
slugging percentage (.945).

Last season, Nuveman was chosen USA Collegiate Player of the
Year by the Amateur Softball Association after hitting .529 with 20
home runs and slugging an NCAA-record 1.045. Defensively, the
catcher threw out five of a mere 11 potential base stealers.

Nuveman and Finch spent last weekend in the same dugout in
Honolulu, representing the United States in the inaugural U.S. Cup.
National teams from Australia, Canada, China and Japan trekked to
Hawaii for the four-day tournament; the U.S. team won
Sunday’s final 1-0 over Japan. Both players will fly back in
time to attend the ESPYs.

While Nuveman wouldn’t miss the show for the world, she
won’t be writing an acceptance speech on the plane ride back.
“I don’t expect to win. If it somehow works out,
I’ll come up with something spur of the moment,” she
said.

Like the Oscars, Wednesday night’s event will be held at
the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and air live nationally at 6 p.m. on
ESPN.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.