The winner of the L.F. "Tow" Diehm Inspirational Award for 2011-12 is Chris Acosta (men's skiing), while Jael Clark (the former Jael Fanning, women's soccer) is the recipient of the Leslie Self Inspirational Award.
Started in 1997-98, this is the 15th year the awards have been presented to a UNM male and female student-athlete based on leadership, character, determination and commitment to team.
This year's recipients will be recognized at an upcoming men's basketball game.
A native of Ashland, Wis., Chris Acosta overcame personal tragedy to become a three-time All-American downhill skier for the Lobos.
In the summer of 2010, Acosta and his closest friend, Spencer Nelson, a member of the University of Colorado Alpine ski team, were hiking near Aspen, Colo. Nelson was struck by a falling rock and fell to his death as Acosta and other friends looked on.
A former walk-on, Acosta is now a senior at UNM and captain of the men's Alpine team. He has earned All-America honors each of the past three seasons in the giant slalom and slalom, including a third-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships.
Jael Clark (Albuquerque / La Cueva HS), the former Jael Fanning, logged phenomenal achievements - on and off the soccer pitch - during her time at UNM.
Clark was a four-year letterwinner (2008-11) who played in 80 career matches for head coach Kit Vela, leading the Lobos to Mountain West championships in 2010 and 2011, and their first appearances in the NCAA College Cup.
Clark was a four-time recipient of the Mountain West academic all-conference award and a three-time MW Scholar-Athlete award winner. She graduated from UNM in May with a degree in Nutrition and a sparkling 4.08 cumulative grade-point-average.
Clark logged more than 300 hours of community service while at UNM, including Toys for Tots, UNICEF, Special Olympics, Race for the Cure for breast cancer, collecting shoes for victims of the Haiti earthquake and providing physical therapy at several hospitals and clinics locally.
Clark was awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship earlier this year. She is currently in graduate school at UNM, studying Physical Therapy. She married former UNM hurdler Chad Clark in July.
About Tow Diehm
L.F. "Tow" Diehm served the University of New Mexico for 40 years, most of that time spent as the head athletics trainer. He was also an athletics administrator and a lobbyist for the department to the New Mexico state legislature. Tow passed away on May 1, 1998.
About Leslie Self
Leslie Self was the wife of Randy Self, who is the former President of the Lobo Club. Leslie also passed away in 1998 after a long battle with cancer.
Previous Award Winners
Tow Diehm Award
1997-98 Pepe Caballero - tennis
1998-99 Marcos White - basketball
1999-00 Daniel Reyes - football
2000-01 Brian Smith - basketball
2001-02 Jarrod Baxter - football
2002-03 Dusty Young - baseball
2003-04 Divan Coetzee - tennis
2004-05 Nick Speegle - football
2005-06 Chris Carlson - baseball; Lars Loseth - skiing/soccer
2006-07 Robb Bierbaum - golf
2007-08 Jeremy Johnson - cross country/track and field; John Sullivan - football
2008-09 Johnny Parkes - tennis
2009-10 Simon Ejdemyr - soccer; Roman Martinez - basketball
2010-11 Tor-Hakon Hellebostad – skiing
2011-12 Chris Acosta - skiing
Leslie Self Award
1997-98 Tamika Stukes - basketball
1998-99 Aimee Hites - tennis
1999-00 Nikki Heckroth - basketball
2000-01 Quinn Michie - swimming
2001-02 Kristi Larsen - golf
2002-03 Jennifer Delich - skiing
2003-04 Amanda Barnes - track and field; Cassie Chavez - softball; Nicole Overeem - swimming
2004-05 Kristen Winters - soccer
2005-06 Maja Kovacek - tennis
2006-07 Terryn Granados - soccer; Jen Hale - swimming
2007-08 Katie Coronado - track and field; Tori Clarridge - swimming
2008-09 Sarah Kwasigroch - volleyball
2009-10 Polina Ermoshina - skiing; Nanette Wittenberg - swimming
2010-11 Kelly Williamson – volleyball
2011-12 Jael Clark - soccer