Batsula selected for the national Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 21, 2008) - ETSU women's tennis standout Olya Batsula (Minsk, Belarus) was selected for the national Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship Tuesday by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship goes to a women's player who displays inspiring dedication and commitment to her team, which has enhanced her team's performance and exemplified the spirit of college tennis.


"I am so happy for Olya," said head coach Steve Brooks. "She has come a long way since arriving in January of 2005 as a freshman.  She was the youngest player on the team until her junior year and she made some mistakes along the way, but ultimately found that the team was most important.  She finished her career being a great team leader and friend.  Her actions continue to open doors for her.  This is what college athletics is all about." 


Batsula compiled a 22-11 overall record, was 15-6 in dual play, and 11-0 in conference play in her senior season. The Belarus native ended her career with 179 victories and is third on the ETSU all-time wins list. Batsula was ranked nationally throughout her career at ETSU and helped the Bucs reach the A-Sun finals this past year.


"We are so pleased to see Olya recognized by the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award selection committee," said Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Barbie Breedlove. "We here at ETSU know that Olya is an example of the very best in collegiate athletics in terms of athletics, academics, community service and leadership, but it is so nice to have her accomplishments recognized on a national level with this prestigious award.  Olya Batsula and our women's tennis program at ETSU are what college athletics should be about."


Additionally, Batsula graduated Magna Cum Laude and was named the 2008 Buccaneer Leadership Award winner and earned the Faculty Award in the Department of Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Sciences. Batsula attended the National Leadershape Conference as a representative of ETSU. She was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, an ITA Scholar Athlete for three years, a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was awarded the Buc Wild competition by attending more than 50 athletic events not in her own sport.


Batsula, a four-time All-Conference selection, has been active in the community throughout her ETSU career helping out with the Boys and Girls Club, the Children's Advocacy Center, Girls Inc., Relay for Life, Special Olympics, and Toys for Tots. Even though Batsula was busy with academics and practices she still found time to give lessons to wheelchair bound students and underprivileged kids. Batsula would even drive 20 minutes to Kingsport with racquets, balls and a net to give tennis lessons to kids who were interested in the sport, but had no one to teach them the game.


Batsula received her Bachelor of Science in Sport and Leisure Management earlier this month and hopes to continue work in a sports related field.


Batsula on winning the award and her time at ETSU


"I did not expect to receive ITA Cissie Leary award because I was competing against a lot of great student-athletes from different universities, and I am both surprised and honored to receive this award," said Batsula. "The national award represents 3 1/2 years of hard work I have done while being in college.  When I think about winning it no longer makes that much sense to me.  When I first got to the United States, it was all about winning.  I wanted to be first on the team and in everything I do, but as years went by I understood that winning cannot be a representation of the ultimate happiness.  The desire for winning and need to be number one led to a lot of trouble in the beginning of my collegiate career, and it caused many arguments and made me question how valuable I was to my team.  I had to overcome a lot of emotional and physical stress before realizing that my desires possibly stood in the way of my personal growth in society.  Whatever happens; happens for a reason and I know now this situation helped me to look around and see the things I could do besides focusing on being first.  I realized I wanted to distinguish myself among other students not only by a winning record.  I wanted to do something special, to help someone and maybe it will return to me eventually.  Community services and hard work in class led me to some great ideas.  For example, thanks to community service I made up my mind about what career I would like to do.  But besides the ideas and connections I received from helping others I also found myself enjoying the whole process.  Winning became just a nice, but not necessary, bonus. Seeing people enjoying their time around me brought the ultimate happiness for me.  It made me feel like I was needed, not only for my winning records, but for being a person…a different person."


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