WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Erin Bray, a skilled center-midfielder who led the women's soccer team to a winning record the past two seasons, is the 2003 recipient of the Mignon Borleske Trophy, which is presented annually to the top female athlete at Whitman College.
The trophy, which is awarded by a vote of the Whitman coaching staff, recognizes athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions to the campus as a whole.
Bray, a senior English major from Canon City, Colo., earned All-Northwest Conference Honorable Mention recognition as a junior when she assisted on a team-high seven goals. Teammates voted her Best Offensive Player honors that season. Last fall, Bray was a team captain and capped her final season by winning the team's Most Inspirational award.
Bray's contributions, however, are hard to measure with statistics and awards, Whitman coach Scott Shields says. "Erin's greatest strength was her vision of the field. She had a knack for getting the ball to the right person at the right time. Few players see the game as well as Erin."
Even casual fans took notice of Bray's ability to direct and control a game, Shields adds. "After games, people were always telling me things like, 'I really like your center-midfielder; she's very good and has such great vision.' You know a player is very talented when casual fans take notice on a regular basis."
Bray, who graduates later this month, plans a career in teaching and coaching. She will do her student teaching next fall at Walla Walla High School. She also plans to serve as assistant coach to Shields. "Erin is going to be a fantastic teacher and coach," he says. "We're fortunate to have her coming back to Whitman next fall as an assistant coach."
Bray has already launched her coaching career, working the past two springs as an assistant coach with the boys junior varsity team at the local high school.
Bray was also a fixture the past two years at the Walla Walla Teen Center, serving as a teen leader. "My role was to hang out with the students and to supervise activities on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. I put together an indoor soccer league this past winter, which ran for two months and was a ton of fun."
Whitman's Center for Community Service (CCS) recently honored Bray with its "Volunteer of the Year" award. One of her professors, Kay Fenimore-Smith, nominated her for the award. "Erin's hours at the Teen Center went above and beyond," CCS director Rebecca Sickels says. "She was a great role model."
Later this summer, Bray will be a volunteer coach at a girls soccer camp in Mexico City.
Bray is the daughter of Dianne and Edward Bray of Canon, Colo. Her father, a high school English teacher for 28 years, also coached Bray's club soccer teams for many years, and was a high school soccer coach from 1997 until last year.
The Mignon Borleske Trophy honors a woman who first came to Whitman in 1915 as the young spouse of Raymond V. Borleske, a sports legend in the making. Her husband, who had starred as a football and baseball player at Whitman, was embarking at the time on a long coaching careeer at his alma mater. Mignon Borleske taught dance and women's education classes at Whitman for nearly four decades.