CU's highest academic athlete honor --
LEBANON -- Cumberland women’s tennis player Stefanie Navaratnam was named the 2019-20 recipient of the Lindsey Donnell Award this week, presented annually to a Phoenix student-athlete who excels in both academics and athletics.
The award is given in honor of the late Lindsey Donnell, a former Phoenix football Little All-American and former professor at Cumberland University.
The Melbourne, Australia native has earned Second-Team All-Mid-South Conference honors in 2018-19 as well as Academic All-Mid-South in 2018-19.
Navaratnam posted an 8-6 mark in singles, 7-4 at No. 6, and an 11-6 record in doubles.
She held a 10-3 doubles record this season with her three losses coming to top 15 duos nationally before the season abruptly came to an end.
"On court Stefanie is very coachable, has great sportsmanship, and responsibility. She has helped our team to achieve wins over top 10 NAIA Universities," said CU tennis coach Karen Martinez.
Navaratnam excels outside of tennis as she boasts a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Society, National Society for High School Scholars, she has made the Dean's List every semester since the fall of 2018, along with several others.
"Stefanie is a tremendous student at Cumberland University, she is a very driven individual who keeps exceeding my expectations, she continues to impress me with her dedication for her studies and her desire to keep working hard to be a better tennis player," Martinez said.
She is the kind of student-athlete whose character and integrity are easily visible. She takes care of her academics off the court and has success on the court. She helps the coaching staff by being the first person to greet incoming recruits and extends a helping hand.
"I am honored to have Stefanie on my team, she has the best work ethic that you can ask for as an individual, she is always talking amazing things about Cumberland, every time I’m recruiting a new player, Stefanie is the first person to help talk to the incoming players. She is already applying for medical school; she wants to be a neurologist." Martinez added.
Donnell set a national collegiate football record in 1936, gaining more than 1,500 rushing yards, a single-season record that stood until the 1960s when the mark was bested by O.J. Simpson.
Donnell graduated from Cumberland in 1936 and returned to teach English from 1960-62 and also spent time teaching at now-defunct Castle Heights Military Academy.
The former Cumberland football stadium, now used for soccer, is named in his honor.