CHICKASHA – A rigorous class schedule. Daily demands at practices. Regular out-of-town away game trips. Participation in campus activities and student life.
Sounds like a lot for one student, but two USAO athletes have figured it out.
Tashina Ototivo and Seth Sturgeon earned the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Award because of strong performances in the classroom, on the field and court and their involvement in the university.
The Bill and Pat Smith Scholar Athlete Award goes out to one male and one female USAO athlete each year.
Both are previous recipients of a similar award — the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar-Athlete Scholarship. The scholarship also is offered to just one male and one female student each year. Sturgeon earned the scholarship last summer, while Ototivo earned it in 2010.
As a four year starter with the women’s basketball team, Ototivo is known for her hard work on the court, and, more importantly, in every other aspect of her life.
“Her work ethic is definitely something we are going to miss and will be difficult for us to replace,” said Jennifer Hayden, head women’s basketball coach. “She comes in ready to work hard every day. She wants to improve. I feel like the same work ethic she puts into her basketball playing she puts the same into her academic endeavors and that sets her apart from many others.”
Ototivo said she was surprised to find out that she earned the award.
“It was definitely an honor. My coach handed it to me, and I thought I was in trouble,” she said with a laugh. “When I got it I was just, I guess you could say, giddy.”
Ototivo, a team captain, led the 2012-13 squad in rebounds, collecting 172 on the season, and in blocks with nine. Additionally, she had one of the best shooting percentages on the team and scored more than 200 points. She had a season total of 40 steals as well. For her career, she’s scored 730 points and is second in school history in career rebounds with 659. In her four years, she has played in every single game for the Drovers.
“She’s also been a leader on campus being involved in several student activities,” Hayden said. “She’s a model student athlete. She excels on the floor and in the classroom and in the USAO community.”
Ototivo played softball as a freshman and joined the softball team again this March.
She has maintained a 3.81 grade point average, majoring in psychology with minors in music and Spanish. She graduated last week.
Ototivo earned USAO’s exclusive Distinguished Graduate Award at last week’s commencement ceremony. She was named to the Regent’s Honor Roll and is a member of Hypatia Honor Society. She also was named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete and earned Academic All-SAC honors. Last season, she was named All-Conference Honorable Mention.
Despite her rigorous class and athletic schedule, she is involved in several student organizations, including Student Government, Student Activities Board, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, and was the Freshman Class President.
“I’m thankful God has given me this opportunity to even be here at school and the added on honors I have received,” Ototivo said. “I’m going to work at Falls Creek, which is a Christian outreach camp, for summer. After summer, I’ve received a job offer to teach English in Southeast Asia, but I’m still praying about that.”
She is from Walters and is the granddaughter of Rebecca Howlingwater.
Sturgeon, one of the Drovers’ starting pitchers on the baseball team, has shined on the mound for the USAO, as well to as classmates and professors.
“He is an intelligent young man who displays all the qualities I look for in a student-athlete,” said Mike Ross, head baseball coach. “Seth is a hard-working, self-motivated individual who not only strives to excel in everything he does but also strives to make the people around him better.”
Also unaware of how highly respected he was, Sturgeon found himself stunned to be a recipient of this award.
“I was really grateful for it. The scholarship I got in the fall was helpful, and then to get the award was icing on the cake,” he said. “I honestly didn’t know that it was handed out to only one male and one female. To be that one male was really a blessing.”
As a baseball player winning an award designed by the man who is also the namesake of the Drovers’ ballpark added to the honor for Sturgeon.
“I know he is the man who made it possible for us to have a baseball field,” Sturgeon said. “Mr. Smith was directly related to getting the baseball program back going here in Chickasha, so it was a huge deal to me.”
Still in the middle of the season, Sturgeon has earned seven wins already on the season. He has thrown 37 strikeouts.
Earning a record of 7-1 in 2012, his first season at USAO, Sturgeon has thrown 73 strikeouts and has earned an ERA of 4.44 for his career as a Drover. Sturgeon, originally from Enid, transferred to USAO from Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa.
“His commitment to excellence has allowed him to be an asset to our team,” Ross said. “As a coach, he is the type of young man you truly enjoy coaching.”
As a sociology senior, Sturgeon maintained a grade point average of 3.78. He graduated last week.
Upon graduation, Sturgeon hopes to become a highway patrolman in Colorado.
“Though I cannot speak on the requirements for that position,” Ross said, “I cannot imagine anyone is better suited to protect and serve the state better than Seth.”
In February, Sturgeon was named Sooner Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week.
Sturgeon is from Enid and is the son of Steven and Connie Hart.