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Stratton named 2004 Female Big 12 Sportsperson of Year

Aug. 23, 2004

By ERICA DELEON, staff writer

Former Baylor women's basketball player Jessika Stratton has been named Female Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year. Stratton became the first Baylor athlete to earn the honor. The Male Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year went to University of Oklahoma football players Mark Clayton and Lynn McGruder.

"I was very excited to receive mention ... it's nice to see someone notices [you] outside of basketball," Stratton said.

Stratton was a starter on last season's NCAA Sweet 16 team, an Academic All-Big 12 selection and two-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.

"Jessika Stratton is an exemplary student-athlete who embodies all of the attributes that we desire at Baylor. She is a truly outstanding student, athlete and Christian woman, who has been a tremendous ambassador for the women's basketball program, athletic department and university," Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw said, in a press release.

Stratton was president of Baylor's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

She organized the Adopt an Angel program. The event was a Big 12-wide community service project where Baylor partnered up with Compassion Ministries.

The ministry found 10 families in need during the holiday season and 10 individual Baylor teams were assigned a family. The family made a wish list and the team then went shopping together to buy what they could. They also spent time with the family and had a Christmas party with the children.

"We've done it for two years," Stratton said. "It's an awesome event where most of the Baylor teams are represented."

Stratton loved the experience of being involved in children's lives.

This was possible through a program called Bears and Books. The Baylor media relations department organized a program where Baylor athletes could read to children.

"I loved being able to be involved in the children's lives," Stratton said. "There are many opportunities for student-athletes to participate in community service. But for me it wasn't a question of whether or not to do it. I knew that's what I wanted to do because I was one of those kids who wanted to have somebody support me and say you can do it."

Organizing and preparing for community service events and meetings had to be juggled with basketball games, practice, class and an internship at a local news station.

Every Thursday evening Stratton was involved in a student-athlete advisory committee meeting or an FCA meeting. Although meetings usually only ran one hour, preparations such as finding a speaker took a full week in advance.

Her efforts as president of the student-athlete advisory committee paid off because this year was the committee's best year in attendance.

Stratton said she was grateful to have a great staff that always helped her out when she had too much on her plate.

Baylor partnered with Waco's University High School in an effort where college athletes could mentor high school athletes. Coaches garnered a list of athletes and partnered them with athletes from Baylor by the sport. Baylor athletes educated them on the dangers of drinking.

Stratton believed as athletes they could be role models, she said.

"I just wanted to find a way where student-athletes could build relationships with high school athletes," Stratton said. "We wanted to encourage them any way we could."

According to a press release, winners are chosen by a panel of conference administrators and media which cover the Big 12 conference. Stratton was nominated by the Baylor athletic department.

All three will be honored at an awards ceremony at the 2004 Dr Pepper Big 12 Football Championship on Dec. 4 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.