Standout Volleyball Player Named AAU Sullivan Award Winner, Edging Out Six World Champions
Lauren Carlini, four-time All-American volleyball player from University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named the 2017 AAU Sullivan Award winner during a ceremony in New York City.
“First off, I’m in complete shock. I definitely was not expecting to win it. And I am honored to be on this list of amazing athletes who won this award previously,” Carlini said. “It gives me a chill thinking about it.” She is the first volleyball player to ever receive the honor.
Carlini was one of seven finalists for the award, which included six gold medal Olympians. She’s the only finalists who has not been to the world’s biggest athletic stage, but she says she has her eye on Tokyo.
“I want to have a gold medal around my neck just like them. I am humbled and I’m honored to have won this AAU Sullivan Award,” Carlini said after the ceremony, which was held at the New York Athletic Club.
Carlini attributed much of her success in volleyball to the Amateur Athletic Union, saying she was on club teams for much of her life growing up through the sport.
The Badger ranks 1st in Wisconsin history with 74 career double-doubles and second in career assists with 5,599.
The Sullivan Award, which was first given in 1930, is known as “The Oscar” of sports trophies and is older than the Heisman. It honors amateur athletes in the United States. The winner is selected through two rounds of public voting, as well as voting from former winners and the AAU Board of Directors.
The inaugural Gussie Crawford award was also given to Jesse Owens posthumously, for his lasting contributions to amateur sports. His granddaughter, Gina Hempill-Strachan accepted the award on the family’s behalf.
The other six finalists included water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson, rifle shooter Ginny Thrasher, freestyle wrestler Kyle Snyder, judoka Kayla Harrison, gymnast Laurie Hernandez and gymnast Aly Raisman.
The finalist enjoyed some sightseeing of NYC, traveling to the Empire State Building Tuesday morning.
As for Carlini, she hopes having a volleyball player awarded the trophy will excite other athletes coming up in the sport.
“It’s cool to be a part of history and it’s cool to be a part of that. I just hope this really gains popularity for this sport. And as girls come up through the ranks, it’s something they strive to want to achieve one day,” she said.
Eastbay is a proud sponsor of the Sullivan Award.