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Pac-12 Conference

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Oregon's Pivec, Washington's Rees named 2023 Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership award winners

Jul 6, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO - Oregon women's track and field/cross country's Malia Pivec and Washington women's basketball's Darcy Rees have been named the 2022-23 recipients of the annual Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Awards, the conference announced today. Pivec is the fifth Duck and Rees is the fourth Husky to receive the honor since the award was established in 2002.

The Pac-12 Conference established the Pac-12 Leadership Award to recognize student-athletes who have served on their institutional Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC) and demonstrated leadership. This Pac-12 Leadership Award is a $3,000 scholarship for postgraduate study awarded to two student-athletes each year.

The Pac-12 Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is composed of representatives from each member institution, selects the winners of the award each year from nominations submitted by each campus SAAC.

Pivec, who started her career at Boise State, has spent the last six years on SAAC committees across the two campuses, serving as an executive member at Oregon since 2021 and Boise State's SAAC President during the 2020-21 school year. During her time on the SAAC committee at Oregon, Pivec has been the co-chair of Student-Athlete Unification and was instrumental in creating opportunities for student-athletes to connect, organizing bowling nights, beach volleyball tournaments, the end of year award banquets and encouraging the student-athletes to attend other teams' events.

In addition to her SACC executive role, Pivec excelled in her athletic endeavors in cross country and track and field as well, helping the Ducks to back-to-back Pac-12 Track & Field Championships in 2022 and 2023. The three-time Regional Qualifier for Outdoor Track & Field (2021, 2022, 2023) finished in the top-10 in the Steeplechase at both the 2022 and 2023 Pac-12 Championships while earning 2022 All-American Honorable Mention honors in the Steeplechase. The graduate senior also earned a 2022 NCAA West All-Region selection in cross country. 

The Lynnwood, Washington native recently completed her Sports Business MBA at Oregon, graduating as a 2023 MBA Valedictorian with a 4.0 grade-point-average. She earned Dean's List with Highest Honors each of the last two years in Eugene and was named a 2022 USATFCCCA Academic All-Region Cross Country selection and 2023 Pac-12 Winter Honor Roll honoree. During the summer of 2022, Pivec was also selected as of one of two student-athletes from the department to participate in Nike's Summer Internship Program.

At Boise State, Pivec finished her bachelor's degree in marketing and finance, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2021, earning COBE Outstanding Graduate honors and Dean's List honors all four years. 

Darcy Rees, who graduated from Washington in June with a 3.96 GPA and her bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood & Family Studies with a minor in Diversity, has served as the President and Vice President for Washington's SAAC each of the last two years, respectively, while also serving on the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) and the Pac-12 SAAC in both 2022 and 2023.

Rees came to Washington from Adelaide, South Australia and became passionate about student-athlete mental health after her experience dealing with an injury and seeing her peers go through similar struggles. An official member of the Pac-12's governance structure as a SALT representative, Rees worked to create, present, and adopt policy recommendations surrounding student-athlete mental health and mental health education programs for coaches. The education was created and implemented across the league to ensure coaches have the tools to help their student-athletes navigate their mental health journeys and recognize when they may be in crisis, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the support for student-athlete mental health as a whole. 

Rees went beyond creating policy, facilitating a range of different events which included organizing a Resilience Rally 5K Run for suicide prevention, holding quarterly events during finals weeks like providing canine companions, snacks and scantrons and a Mental Health Field Day, which provided resources, activities and community for student-athletes.

In addition to her work on mental health support, Rees, along with two athletic academic advisors, founded Global Pack as an additional resource for international student-athletes. The group, which started as a small meeting in an advisor's office to now an organization with an executive team that meets bi-weekly, provides additional support for student-athletes from other countries as they navigate campus, school and their athletic responsibilities.

Rees' impact was felt on the court too. A three-year starter for the Huskies, the 6'4 center helped UW return to the postseason this year with a run to the WNIT Fab Four. She finished her career No. 9 all-time for career blocks, while she holds top-10 freshmen records for starts and blocks in a single season.

The four-time Pac-12 Winter Academic Honor Roll award winner (2020-23) collected 13 Dean's List honors during her time in Seattle, capped by her 2023 College Sports Communications Academic All-District Team selection as a senior in 2023. Rees was also one of two UW student-athletes to be named to the "Husky 100" list, which recognizes 100 undergraduate and graduate students from the UW Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses in all areas of study. She intends to pursue her Master's Degree in the field of Play Therapy and Child Life, two lesser-known fields that are critical to improving the quality of life of children in pediatric hospitals.

To be eligible for the award, nominees must have completed or be in their final season of athletics eligibility, be enrolled in or plan to attend graduate school, have been a letter winner in a varsity sport, and have served a minimum of one year on the campus SAAC. Other factors which may be taken into account during the selection process include other leadership activities, community service, grade-point average, service as a SAAC officer, and level of athletic achievement.

2022-23 Malia Pivec, Oregon, track & field/cross country Darcy Rees, Washington, women's basketball
2021-22 Lane Stigall, Oregon State, wrestling Eden Hardy, Oregon, soccer
2020-21 Joel Walker, Oregon State, soccer Natalie Robinson, Washington, beach volleyball
2019-20 Winners not selected due to the suspension of competition because of COVID-19.
2018-19 Owen Leonard, Washington State, baseball Shannon Williams, Oregon, lacrosse
2017-18 Matt Salerno, Arizona, swimming Natalie Modly, Oregon, lacrosse
2016-17 Jack Anderson, Oregon State, baseball Taylor Ricci, Oregon State, gymnastics
2015-16 Patrick Woepse, UCLA, water polo Clare Wise, Colorado, skiing
2014-15 Justin Brinkley, Stanford, track & field Danielle Buchanan, Arizona, gymnastics
2013-14 Robbie Lemons, Stanford, basketball Erin Menefee, Arizona, cross country/track & field
2012-13 Gareth Gilna, Washington, track & field Stephanie McGregor, Oregon State, gymnastics
2011-12 Greg Woodburn, USC, track & field Leslie Mak, Oregon State, gymnastics
2010-11 Thomas Webber, Arizona State, track & field Monica Graf, Oregon, golf
2009-10 Sean Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, UCLA, basketball Ariane Masschelein, Arizona, tennis
2008-09 Kyson Bunthuwong, California, gymnastics D'Anna Piro, Oregon State, gymnastics
2007-08 Justin Pollard, California, swimming Ingrid Kantola, UCLA, track & field
2006-07 Caleb Kirk, California, gymnastics Whitney Myers, Arizona, swimming
2005-06 Darrell Brooks, Arizona, football Anna Chappell, Arizona, basketball
2004-05 Emerson Ward, Arizona State, swimming Molly Seaman, Washington, gymnastics
2003-04 Jason Ranne, Arizona, basketball Nikki Neuberger, Oregon State, volleyball
2002-03 Adam Chivara, Arizona State, wrestling Janell Bergstrom, Oregon, softball
2001-02 Walter Chun, California, golf Cicely Clinkenbeard, Washington State, track & field