Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania Athletics Department wrapped up a 2018-19 season of riches, records, championships, and academic successes across all 27 varsity sports with the 2019 RAFY's awards, held Sunday evening at the Clive M. Beck Center.
The annual end-of-season awards ceremony topped off a spectacular 2018-19 academic year for Transylvania, which witnessed 109 all-conference award-winners, eight teams which made national tournament appearances, eight conference players of the year in their respective sports, five coaches of the year, and Transylvania winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's Women's All-Sports Trophy award for the highest cumulative amount of placings across all sponsored conference sports.
The night culminated with the revealing of the Pioneer Male and Female athletes of the Year along with the Team of the Year. Senior Graham Smith of the Transylvania track and field team took Pioneer Male Athlete of the Year honors after setting new program records in the men's javelin, winning his second-consecutive HCAC Outdoor Track and Field championship in the event, and becoming the third Pioneer to qualify for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in program history.
Senior Abby Blackburn of the Transylvania eventing team captured the Pioneer Female Athlete of the Year award after putting together a championship season in her final run with Transylvania Eventing. Blackburn earned USEA Intercollegiate Novice Champion honors for 2018 and was the top rider in the country at the Novice level, beating out all other university teams across Division I, II, and III.
Transylvania women's basketball was named the Team of the Year for 2018-19 after posting the greatest season in program history since moving over to the NCAA. The Pioneers under head coach Juli Fulks advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever and paced the country in three-point shooting. Three members of the Pioneers were named to the All-HCAC First Team while the team won the HCAC regular-season and postseason titles.
The awards are named for the Pioneers' mascot, Raf the Bat, which was introduced in December of 2017.
2019 RAFY's award winners
Team of the Year – Women's Basketball
Pioneer Male Athlete of the Year – Graham Smith, Men's Track and Field
Pioneer Female Athlete of the Year – Abby Blackburn, Eventing
Coaching Staff of the Year – Juli Fulks and Transylvania Women's Basketball
Female Rookie of the Year – Taylor Allen, Women's Track and Field
Male Rookie of the Year – Arjun Gupta, Men's Tennis
Team Community Service Award – Softball
Inspiration Award – Bailee Stevens, Women's Lacrosse
George Stopp Academic Achievement Award - Daniel Cooper, Men's Tennis
Highest Team GPA – Women's Golf
Female Senior Leadership Award – Celia Kline, Women's Basketball
Male Senior Leadership Award – Logan Fogle, Men's Lacrosse