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April 17, 2012

Lauten and Hehn named 2012 winners of Skelton Award

By: Jimmy Robertson

From the office of student life

The annual Athletic Director’s Honors breakfast, with Tech AD Jim Weaver as the host, was held at Owens Banquet Hall on Saturday, March 24, to honor more than 400 student-athletes who achieved a 3.0 grade-point average or higher in either the spring or fall semester of 2011.

The coveted Skelton Award winners were also recognized at the event. Emily Lauten of the women’s tennis team and Garrett Hehn of the men’s swimming and diving team were this year’s recipients. The Skelton Award, named after the late Dr. Bill and Peggy Skelton, is presented each year to a rising junior, senior or fifth-year male and female student-athlete who has participated in intercollegiate athletics for at least two seasons at Tech. Each recipient receives a scholarship of $5,000 for the upcoming academic year.

The Skelton Award winners typically give a speech at the breakfast. This year, however, was anything but typical, as Emily and Garrett shared the podium together, delivering a speech full of memorable reflections, profound gratitude and challenging words for all student-athletes to consider. Below are some excerpts of their speeches for you to enjoy:

HARD WORK – Emily Lauten

“Good morning! I know it’s a little early, especially for a Saturday morning, but we are doing a little something different this year, so hopefully we will keep you guys awake. We are going to talk about some themes of being a student-athlete that are especially important to us. These themes are HARD WORK, RESPECT, TEAMMATES, LEADERSHIP, OPPORTUNITY, and IMPACT.

“Vince Lombardi said, ‘The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.’ Everyone in this room is here today because of the hard work we have put in the classroom to earn a 3.0 GPA while balancing being a member of an athletics team. So we all know that hard work isn’t always too much fun. I’m not going to lie – it takes a lot of hard work to pull myself out of bed when my alarm goes off at 5:30 for morning practice. And I know you all can relate – I’ve seen all of you out there on the field or track running sprints and practicing as I drive by with my eyes half open on the way to the tennis center.

“Hard work isn’t very fun, but success is. That first practice after being out for months because of an injury and finally playing without pain, getting an A on that test you studied for, and upsetting a team no one thought you would beat – we all know these things are fun. And it should be this success and fun that continues to drive us to work harder than we ever thought we could.”

RESPECT – Garrett Hehn

“Sharing in that hard work, striving for a common goal, also breeds respect. Respect for each other’s achievements and athletic feats, that’s easy. How can you not respect a 7-foot high jump? A 4.4 in the 40-yard dash? Sinking a pressure free throw in front of thousands or a putt in complete silence? Scoring a hat trick or hitting a home run? As I look out at the athletes gathered here today, I have nothing but the utmost respect for you all, for your undoubtedly impressive athletics achievements, but most of all for your academic success. I respect you all because I know what it feels like to be exhausted from multiple practices and yet still stay up to finish a homework assignment, to choose books over TV and studying over sleep. To achieve the requirements to be here today was no easy task.

“There are many people around us who deserve our respect and who have worked just as hard as we all have. It is easy to take all these people for granted, to not give them the respect they deserve. So let us also choose to recognize that we couldn’t have gotten here all on our own and that we have all benefited greatly from the hard work of others. And if we can learn to show that kind of respect, then we will gain a far greater respect, one that doesn’t depend on numbers on a scoreboard or wins or losses. Instead, we will gain a respect that depends upon the goodness of our character.”


“As Garrett said, it’s important for us to respect those who have helped us to get to where we are today. Teammates are included in that group. Respect is an important aspect of any team, and to be a successful group, teammates need to respect one another. I’ve learned this and many other lessons playing on a college team. Growing up, tennis was the only sport I played seriously, and competing at tournaments almost always as an individual. So before coming to college, I hadn’t really experienced being a member of a team. Well, now I know what I was missing out on.

“Sharing experiences every day, going through numerous ups and downs, and working for common goals builds relationships with teammates that will last throughout our lives. But it’s also important to carry more than just friendships with us from our team experiences after our four years as athletes are over. The lessons learned on our teams are lifelong ones. One important lesson I have learned is not just to be there for someone, but also especially to be there for someone during a hard time. And when you support someone, do it wholeheartedly and really show the person that you believe in him or her. The most important lesson I’ve learned, however, is that your attitude on a daily basis affects those around you. The energy you bring to an environment, whether positive or negative, greatly influences the attitudes of others.”


“To be chosen as a leader among your teammates is considered by many to be one of the best honors you can receive from your peers. Only a select few can be captains, the leaders amongst athletes. All of us are athletes, leaders amongst the community, and we serve as role models for many. As athletes, this honor is usually thrust upon us with little instruction other than to keep doing what we’re doing. If we have made it this far in athletics, then we must be doing something right. We must possess some kind of exemplary determination, perseverance or dedication. Which is true, we all wouldn’t be here without extraordinary amounts of those qualities, but being a leader is far beyond that. Being a leader isn’t a right-time, right-place kind of thing. It’s a conscious decision that governs our actions whether people are watching or not. While all great leaders may not lead the same way, all of them possess similar qualities.

“A true leader puts others’ needs above his or her own and is constantly aware of the needs of others. A true leader is unafraid to do such actions and seeks fairness and equality above all. Leading has far more to do with yourself than it does with those you’re leading. There are opportunities to lead all around us every day, but it depends on us and our virtue to see them and act accordingly.”


“Leaders are ready any time a test presents itself to reveal their values, whether they are expecting the test or not. They take advantage of their opportunities to lead others and to further develop their leadership skills. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that I have been given as a Hokie student-athlete. First, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to receive an education from such an accredited institution and for the numerous resources, such as advisors, tutors and technology to help me make the most of this education. Second, I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to further develop my athletics skills and to compete against some of the nation’s top competition. Being an athlete has also allowed me to travel to numerous places I would have never gone to on my own and to make lifelong memories on these trips with my teammates. Third and most importantly to me, I am beyond grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the Hokie Nation and Blacksburg community. I would have never guessed that I would have ended up at Virginia Tech, but the minute I stepped on campus on my recruiting trip, I knew this was the place for me.

“In addition, the strength and resiliency of the town of Blacksburg has made giving back to the community whenever I can of much greater importance to me. It’s so important for us to realize the opportunities we have been given and to do our best to make the most of them during the short time we have.”

IMPACT – Garrett

“I, too, cherish being a part of the Hokie Nation. As I reflect on my time here as an athlete at Virginia Tech, I am overwhelmed at how much I have learned. My time as an athlete has been anything but easy.

“Perhaps the greatest lesson my time here has taught me is to enjoy the moment. The value of hard work and the perseverance, I expected to learn that from athletics. But learning to enjoy even the toughest of times, learning that the greatest joy is in the journey, is a gift I never expected to receive from my time here. My experience here has impacted me in a way that is beyond words and a way in which every other experience pales in comparison. This impact is so great, so profound, that it has driven me to achieve the same impact on this place as it has had on me.

“As athletes, we are given tremendous opportunities to impact everything around us, from the community, to teammates, to peers, to teachers. I’d like to return the favor. Let’s make one more kid smile by giving him some time with a Hokie, thank one more teacher who has given us this valuable education, and encourage one more teammate who knows the struggles we know. Let us impact this place more than it has impacted us.”