Photo Courtesy of NAU Alumni Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The academic honors continued to pile up for NAU Athletics Wednesday night as four graduating student-athletes were among forty-three students who received the university's prestigious Gold Axe Award. The athletics contingent at the Gold Axe and Distinguished Seniors awards banquet included Diane Buzzard (women's soccer), Laura Jabczenski (golf), Taylor Stephens (volleyball) and Johanna Vang (women's tennis) as the quartet was bestowed with the coveted award.
Buzzard, one of two Golden Eagle Female Scholar Athletes of the Year, will graduate with a 3.72 GPA into next month's commencement ceremonies in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics. The local product out of Flagstaff earned a spot in the starting lineup in each match this season and was instrumental in pushing the Lumberjacks toward their first conference tournament title in five years. As a mainstay in the backline, she helped NAU allow less than one goal per match and earned All-Big Sky Honorable Mention honors for the second year in a row. A four-time Big Sky All-Academic selection, Buzzard was a Capital One CoSIDA First Team Academic All-District 8 selection in 2012. Within the community, she has committed herself as the President of the Global Engineering Outreach and member of the American Society of Engineers.
Jabczenski has been the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the last two years and in total has been involved with SAAC for the past four years. She has represented NAU at SAAC conference meetings and has spearheaded many functions benefitting the Lumberjack student-athletes including Ballers' Ball, the LOUIES awards, SAAC Dodgeball tournaments and the Soap for Hope drive. During her career she has been a great leader for the golf team away from the course of competition and has been a valuable member due to her leadership. In 2012, she was named to the National Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar Team for Division I and is a two-time Big Sky All-Academic selection. The Tucson, Ariz. native will graduate with a degree in biomedical sciences and a chemistry minor sporting a 3.89 GPA.
Stephens is slated to earn her degree in biomedical sciences with a chemistry minor next month and carries a 3.75 GPA. Her graduation will mark the end of a great career with the Lumberjack volleyball team in which she transformed herself into one of the most dominant middle blockers in the Big Sky Conference. After playing sparingly in her first two seasons, the Phoenix, Ariz. native started 53 matches over her final two seasons, swinging efficiently at the net hitting over .300 and forming a formidable block at over a block per set. She ranked in the top 10 of the conference in blocking both seasons and finished her career tied for sixth in program history with 0.97 blocks per set. This past fall, she was voted to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 Second Team to go along with four Golden Eagle Scholar Athlete awards and three Big Sky All-Academic selections.
Vang has owned a perfect 4.00 GPA since arriving at NAU from Sollentuna, Sweden and will graduate with a degree in marketing with a business economics certificate. She has been a three-year team captain for the NAU women's tennis team and has a chance at becoming the seventh player in school history to earn four all-conference honors at the end of the season this spring. Heading into the final week of the regular season this weekend, Vang has 44 career singles wins and 49 career doubles wins and shared Golden Eagle Co-Female Scholar Athlete of the Year honors with Buzzard at Wednesday's Golden Eagle Awards banquet. She is a current SAAC representative for her team and is well on her way to being named to the Big Sky All-Academic team and receiving All-Academic honors from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association for the fourth consecutive year.
The Gold Axe Award dates back to 1933 and is presented each semester to honor graduating seniors for their achievements and service. It is a tribute to outstanding academic performance, leadership and service to the community. The four spring recipients joins Austin Hasquet (football) and Tatum Rochin (women's tennis) from the fall semester to bring the NAU Athletics Department's total to 43 Gold Axe recipients since 2004.