NCAA diving champion Emma Friesen and football Academic All-American Kealoha Pilares received the Jack Bonham Awards last night at the University of Hawaii’s annual scholar-athlete dinner.
The Bonham Award is named for the late assistant athletic director. It is given to the senior female and male athletes who "best exemplify the ideals for which Jack Bonham stood for in the area of athletic excellence, academic achievement, public service, leadership and character."
It is the most prestigious award in UH athletics. Last night, the awards underscored two collegiate careers filled with success.
Friesen, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, won the 2008 NCAA 1-meter springboard and earned All-America honors all four years at UH. In 2008, she was NCAA Diver of the Year and received the Joe Kearney Award, given to the Western Athletic Conference’s top female athlete.
A member of the Canadian national team, Friesen also placed sixth at the 2008 Russian FINA Grand Prix, on the 3-meter, and sixth at the 2009 FISU World University Games, on 1 meter. She was a two-time WAC Diver of the Year, winning six WAC championships despite breaking her ankle and needing a 4-inch rod in her leg after an accident two years ago.
"She has been a fierce competitor and a sensitive human being, overcoming many obstacles along her path as a Rainbow Wahine … ," said diving coach Mike Brown. "She relearned how to walk, then dive and then compete in order to earn her fourth NCAA All-America honor at this year’s NCAA championship. It took a lot of character for her to finish her athletic career at the University of Hawaii on such a high note."
Friesen will receive a degree in psychology in two weeks. She has been active in reading days with elementary school children, fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and working with special needs kids.
Pilares is the 16th football player to receive the award and the second to be named to the ESPN CoSIDA Academic All-America first team. The kinesiology and leisure science major has a cumulative GPA of 3.63, was named to the Dean’s List five times and is a four-time academic All-WAC selection.
"Kealoha attacks every challenge with passion, whether it be on the football field, classroom, or in the community — and with the focus to be the best he can be in each of those areas … ," UH football coach Greg McMackin said. "If you want to win the game of life, then you should live your life like Kealoha."
Pilares was named second-team All-WAC last fall and finished seventh nationally with 100.5 receiving yards per game. He set a UH record with 18 catches against Louisiana Tech. Pilares started as a running back and led Hawaii in rushing as a freshman. He finished his career seventh in all-purpose yards at UH (3,379) and ninth in receiving yards (2,491).