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Athletes honored

For the first time since 1986, Bluffton University on April 17 recognized co-recipients of its award for outstanding senior male athlete.

Sharing the A.C. Burcky Award were cross country and track athlete Andrew Chaffee of Clarkston, Mich., and football player Todd Trotter of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Also honored at Bluffton’s annual Athletics Awards Forum was volleyball player Jenna Eshleman of Landisville, Pa., who won the Kathryn E. Little Award as outstanding senior female athlete.

Speaking at the forum was Judson Laipply, a 1998 Bluffton graduate and creator of the viral Internet video, "The Evolution of Dance," which he performed before the awards presentation.

Athletics Director Phill Talavinia presented the Burcky Award to Chaffee, a business administration major with a concentration in international business and accounting, and Trotter, an art major with a graphic design minor.

A dean’s list student for six semesters, Chaffee was Bluffton’s most valuable cross country runner in 2008, 2009 and 2011, and a two-time recipient of all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) sportsmanship honors. This year, he was among three students who portrayed Bluffton mascot J. Denny Beaver and, in conjunction with his training for this summer’s Ironman Lake Placid, started "Team Andy," a program to promote physical wellness on campus and in the community.

Chaffee is also a member of the university’s Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) and, in fall 2010, participated in the semester-abroad, peace and conflict resolution
program in Northern Ireland.

Chaffee is "a man of integrity, upstanding character, honesty and good will," says Karen Brandt, Bluffton’s first-year cross country and track coach. "I’m proud of his accomplishments as a member of the Bluffton campus community as a person, a student and an athlete."

On the football field, Trotter was a four-year starter who was named first- or second-team all-HCAC five times as a wide receiver and kick returner. He is now Bluffton’s career leader in kick returns and kick return yardage, and is eighth both in pass receptions and receiving yards.

As a student graphic designer in Bluffton’s public relations office, Trotter has worked on more than 100 projects used by other campus offices. Last summer, he wrote, filmed, edited and produced 15 promotional videos for The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center, and he has also been responsible for many J. Denny Beaver videos in the past year. His work has included T-shirt and Bluffton sports team poster designs as well.

"Todd Trotter has never had a bad day in the four years that I have known him," head football coach Tyson Veidt says. "He is bright, energetic and will be a success in the future like he has been at Bluffton University."

The Burcky Award is named for the late professor of physical education and coach who served Bluffton from 1922-68. He was inducted into the NAIA Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and, in 1970, the A.C. Burcky addition to Founders Hall was dedicated in his honor. Burcky died in 1989 at age 93.

The Little Award is based on scholarship, academic abilities and campus leadership, as well as four years of participation in at least one sport. And Eshleman, this year’s recipient, made her mark both on and off the volleyball court.

A social work major with a 3.95 grade point average, she was an all-HCAC and HCAC all-academic selection for three years each. She was named Most Valuable Player of the 2009 conference tournament and was a member of the 2011 all-tournament team. Also last fall, she became the first Bluffton athlete to receive NCAA first-team Academic All-American honors, adding Capital One CoSIDA first-team All-American laurels to her first-team all-district recognition. In 2010, she was an ESPN second-team all-district academic pick.

Eshleman was the HCAC’s volleyball Player of the Week four times—including twice last season—and ended her career ranked fifth on Bluffton’s all-time list in kills, with 1,222, and second in kills per set, at 2.82.

The university’s Homecoming queen last fall, she has also been active in BASIC, the Shining Through music ministry team, the chapel planning committee and worship band, and the Social Work Club.

"Jenna has an infectious personality and is a strong leader both on and off the court," says head volleyball coach Steve Yarnell. "Her heart will lead her to do great things after her time here at Bluffton. As great of an athlete and volleyball player that Jenna is, I can attest that she is an even better person."

Eshleman’s award is named for Kathryn Little, who served in Bluffton’s health, physical education and recreation department and in athletics from 1958-74. She was a member of the first class inducted into the Bluffton Athletics Hall of Fame, also in 1974.


Bluffton public relations, 4/18/12