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EASTON, Pa. - Brittany Blass, Emily Homan, Ross Scheuerman and Cory Spera were celebrated as Lafayette athletics' best on Thursday evening at the PARDees, Lafayette's senior student-athlete awards show. More than 300 people, including student-athletes, families, coaches and administrators, packed the theater in Williams Center for the Arts.
Homan and Spera were honored with the Class of 1913 Trophy, an endowed award presented to the senior student-athletes (male and female) who have attained the greatest distinction both as an athlete and a scholar. The award has been presented annually since 1940 and is currently selected by Lafayette's head coaches and athletic administrators.
Homan (Upper Darby, Pa./Delaware County Christian) was a two-time Academic All-Patriot League and three-time Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selection as a forward on the women's basketball team. A Geology major, she secured the 2014 Ted and Georgia Metropolis Prize in Geology and carried a 3.56 grade-point average.
On the court, Homan finished off her career as an All-Patriot League First-Team selection in 2014-15 (after a second-team selection in 2013-14 and Patriot League Rookie of the Year laurels in 2011-12). This season, she led the team with 13.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, ending her career ranked second in career points (1,564), points per game (13.3), rebounds (844) and blocked shots (206). Homan was also one of the 30 national finalists for the 2015 NCAA Senior CLASS Award.
Homan was also involved with academic tutoring, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Oaks Leadership Academy and was a volunteer at Paxinosa Elementary School.
"Emily's presence in practice every day was a gift to all around her. Each day `Em' brought her work ethic to practice and on gameday she was special. She understood the importance of allowing her teammates and coaching staff to rely on her performance for Lafayette to be successful," said Lafayette women's basketball coach Theresa Grentz. "She stood for the team and engaged her teammates. It is not Emily's statistics that will define her. It is her character!"
Spera (Lorton, Va./Hayfield Secondary) added the Class of 1913 Trophy to a growing list of collegiate accomplishments and was also recently selected as the winner of the George Wharton Pepper Prize, given to the Lafayette senior "who most nearly represents the Lafayette ideal."
Spera had his best year statistically in 2014, when he went 3-1 with a 1.52 earned-run average en route to All-Patriot League First Team honors and the distinction of being both the Patriot League and Maroon Club Scholar-Athlete of the Year. This year he made 11 appearances out of the bullpen, accruing a 3.38 ERA in conference contests. As a team captain, he led the Leopards to a semifinal berth in the Patriot League Tournament.
Like Homan, Spera was one of just 30 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award and was voted onto the Academic All-Patriot League Team for the second consecutive year. A Biology major, Spera maintains a 3.89 cumulative GPA.
Spera has been an athletic peer mentor for three years and is a participant in Oaks Leadership Academy, the Lafayette Leadership Education Committee, the Alumni Relations Council, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Standing Committee and the Class of 2015 Commencement Gift Committee. He has also served as a Gateway ambassador for the Career Services office.
Through the Miracle League of Northampton County, he has helped children with disabilities play baseball. As a volunteer technician for American Health Care Professionals, he performed basic physicals for residents of area retirement communities.
"Cory Spera truly represents the type of student-athlete that I strive to coach at Lafayette College," said Lafayette baseball coach Joe Kinney. "He has fully embraced the campus community and taken advantage of all that Lafayette offers, excelling in the classroom and on the baseball field. He is a leader amongst his peers."
Blass and Scheuerman garnered the Charles L. Albert '08 Award, given to the student-athletes who are judged to be the most outstanding athletes. The endowed award was established in 1966.
Blass (Mountain Top, Pa./Crestwood) was a four-time All-Patriot League First-Team honoree while also picking up Patriot League Rookie of the Year laurels in 2011. She also collected NFHCA Regional All-America status her final three seasons. As a senior, Blass was selected to play in the NFHCA Senior All-Star game and was named the Maroon Club Scholar Athlete of the Year, maintaining a 3.39 GPA while majoring in Biochemistry.
"She made an immediate impact on the team, playing a huge role in back-to-back Patriot League championships her freshman and sophomore years. Brittany is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever come across," said Lafayette field hockey coach Jennifer Stone. "I can confidently say that Brittany is the type of player that every coach only gets one or two of in their career. She is beyond special. She was a remarkably talented player, equally talented leader and steward of the athletic department."
Like Blass, Scheuerman (Creamridge, N.J./Allentown) was a four-time All-Patriot League selection. The tailback ended his collegiate career with 3,504 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns, marks that place him third and fourth, respectively, in the Lafayette record books. He was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2011 and a finalist for The Sports Network's Jerry Rice Award given to the nation's top freshman.
He will best be remembered for his performance on Nov. 22, 2014 when he dazzled a sold out crowd and a befuddled Lehigh defense at Yankee Stadium with a 304-yard, three-touchdown performance in the 150th Meeting of College Football's Most-Played Rivalry. The 45-carry showing garnered him The Sports Network FCS Offensive Player of the Week honors, was the top rushing performance by an FCS player in 2014 and set a Patriot League record for rushing yards in a game. He finished the season with 1,129 yards and eight rushing TD's.
"Ross established himself as one of the all-time great running backs in Lafayette history," said Frank Tavani, the Fred M. Kirby II '42 Head Football Coach. "He has been a leader on and off the field and a role model for our younger players. Ross developed himself as a complete player and earned himself an opportunity to play in the National Football League, recently signing a free-agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers."
The PARDees, which featured a pre-ceremony red carpet and a reception afterwards, was hosted by Gary Laubach of the Lafayette Sports Network and Susan Averett, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics and Lafayette's Faculty Athletics Representative.