FRISCO, Texas – McNeese softball standout pitcher Whitney Tate has been selected as the female student-athlete recipient of the 2023 Steve McCarty Citizenship Award, the Southland Conference announced on Thursday. New Orleans baseball player Jorge Tejeda earned the men’s student-athlete award.
The senior from Columbia, La. is the second McNeese student-athlete and the first female to receive the honor. Baseball’s Julian Gonzales was the 2021 male recipient.
“I’m so grateful for this honor,” said Tate who was recently named the Southland’s Softball Student-Athlete of the Year. “It’s very unexpected but blessed to have it. Going back into my earlier years in college, going through Covid and then the (2020) hurricanes, those moments taught me more about working in the community. We (student-athletes) give a lot but they (the community) give so much more back to us. I’ve been able to meet so many people and love so many people, it’s be very special to me.”
The McCarty Award recognizes a male and female student-athlete who exhibit outstanding qualities in citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership, and community service. The honor is named for the former Stephen F. Austin athletic director, who served at the school for 21 years, including 15 as athletic director. McCarty, an Alto, Texas, native, retired from SFA in 2005 and is a two-time graduate of the university. He is a member of the SFA Board of Regents and the SFA Alumni Association’s “Football Coaches Hall of Honor.” McCarty was inducted into the Southland Conference Hall of Honor in 2006.
Tate is always the first to respond when an opportunity to serve the community arises. Last fall, Tate assisted students on campus with moving into their dorms and participated in countless Little League camp nights serving our youth and teaching them about her passion and love for softball. For the annual Trunk or Treat, she coordinated her team into groups with themes to dress and provided candy to our community at a local church. While in season this spring, she and her teammates visited multiple nursing homes throughout the community to play Bingo.
Tate was recognized at the 2022 McNeese Athletics Rowdy’s award ceremony as the Community Impact Student-Athlete of the Year which was chosen by her peers for leading and making a difference in the community. At the 2023 Rowdy’s, she was presented the McNeese FCA Award for demonstrating a consistent commitment to Jesus Christ in each phase of her career- academically, athletically, socially, and spiritually. She lives out the FCA Values of integrity, serving, teamwork, and excellence as an example to other of what a Christian competitor is.
On the field, Tate helped the Cowgirls to two Southland Conference regular season titles (2022, 2023), three SLC Tournament titles including the second McNeese three-peat (2021-2023), three NCAA Tournament appearances (2021, 2022, 2023) and two NCAA Regional Finals (2022, 2023). Tate was also a two-time all-conference performer, three-time SLC all-tournament, named the 2021 SLC Tournament MVP. Academically, she is a three-time Commissioner’s Honor Roll member, two-time SLC Softball All-Academic, and 2023 College Sports Communications Academic All-District.
Her stellar 2023 campaign included an 18-4 win-loss record, 1.26 ERA and 166 innings pitched as she helped guide the Cowgirls to a school-record 47 wins.
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