HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC -- The Southern Conference named its Athletes of the Year for the 2005-06 season Wednesday at the league’s annual Honors Dinner held at the Crowne Plaza Resort. Appalachian State football player Richie Williams received the Bob Waters Male Athlete of the Year Award while Chattanooga cross country and track and field athlete Shannon Wommack received the Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Williams, a senior quarterback from Camden, SC, guided the Mountaineers to their first-ever NCAA Division I-AA national championship this past December. The league’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2005, Williams, the 11th football player in the past 15 years to win the top male award in the league, led the conference with 3,745 yards of total offense and also paced the league with 2,809 passing yards. The five-time SoCon Offensive Player of the Week recipient completed a league-high 62.4 percent of his passes, throwing for 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions. After injuring his ankle in the first half of the national semifinals against Furman, Williams threw for 129 yards in the second half of the title game versus Northern Iowa to help the Mountaineers overcome a 16-7 halftime deficit for a 21-16 win.
In addition to garnering the league’s top offensive player honor, Williams was also tapped an all-America selection by three different media organizations. A two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in I-AA, Williams finished his career as the school’s holder of every single-game, single-season and career passing record.
Williams recently signed a contract with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League and is teamed with DaVon Fowlkes, a former teammate and the 2005 SoCon Bob Waters Male Athlete of the Year. Williams earned his degree in graphic arts and imaging technology from Appalachian State in December.
College of Charleston baseball player Phillip Coker, the 2006 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year, was the runner-up for the award. Katon Bethay, a football and track and field standout from Wofford, finished third.
Wommack, one of the most decorated female student-athletes in league annals, is the third Chattanooga athlete to capture the SoCon’s top female athletic accolade. The winner of the Most Outstanding Track Performer during the 2006 outdoor track season, the native of Conyers, GA also claimed the top runner honor during the cross country and indoor track campaigns. She is the only female athlete to claim all three honors in the same campaign and is one of only two to ever claim the three awards in the same year.
Wommack, who finished second in the athlete of the year category in 2005, earned All-America status in the fall following a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. This was her fourth All-America honor during her career, capturing two in indoor track and another in indoor track.
Wommack completed her undergraduate degree in Spring 2005 with a 3.697 GPA in rehabilitation science and is currently in graduate school, working toward a master’s in physical therapy.
College of Charleston’s Kaycie Carr, the 2005 SoCon Volleyball Player of the Year, was the runner-up for the award, while Davidson’s Kara Koehrn, the 2005 women’s soccer Player of the Year, finished third.
The Southern Conference Male Athlete of the Year is selected annually by Southern Conference athletic directors and a media member representing each conference school. Prior to 1990-91, the award was selected solely by members of the Southern Conference Sports Media Association. Beginning in 1991-92, the award was named after the late Bob Waters, who was Western Carolina’s head football coach from 1969-88. The Southern Conference Female Athlete of the Year Award was inaugurated in 1990. The Southern Conference Sports Media Association selected the winner in 1989-90. Since 1990-91, each school’s athletic director and a designated media representative have participated in the voting.