May 27, 2010
NEW YORK - Antoinette Cobb, a 2009 honors graduate of Louisiana Tech University and one of the country's top ranked 100-meter hurdlers, has been named the 2010 recipient of the 22nd annual Honda Inspiration Award. This award is given each year to a female college athlete who has overcome adversity to excel in her sport.
Shocking Diagnosis After Freshman Season at LA Tech
After four years as a track standout at West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, La., where she helped lead her team to two state titles, Antoinette Cobb, a native of Zachary, La., entered Louisiana Tech and was named All-Western Athletic Conference for both her freshman indoor and outdoor track seasons. Her college track career was off to a terrific start when she earned a stunning secondplace finish in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2006 WAC Indoor Championships, despite not being ranked in the league's top 10 performance list. Cobb's prospects took a shocking turn for the worse, however, when she was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer immediately after her freshman outdoor season. Facing surgery and a grueling six-month regimen of chemotherapy, she was forced to withdraw from classes for two quarters and forego track for her entire sophomore year.
Colon cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease, and 90 percent of victims in the U.S. are older than 50, according to the Colon Cancer Prevention Center. Says Cobb of her diagnosis: "I was in shock. I thought only old people got colon cancer. I kept visiting different websites trying to figure out what was wrong. I just didn't want to believe it, even after the diagnosis."
Battling Cancer with the Same Determination She Exhibits on the Track
Cobb set out to battle the cancer with the same courage and determination she was known for on the track. In addition to her surgery, she underwent chemotherapy three times a week, losing 25 pounds and much of her strength. When she returned to school and track in her junior year the treatments had clearly taken their toll, and her times had slowed considerably. But just as she had struggled and worked to beat cancer, Antoinette battled against the stopwatch on the track, edging closer and closer to returning to her times before her diagnosis.
"While she ran very well in her first year back, it took about seven months of very serious training before she was back where she belonged. Then it was like a light went on, and there was no stopping her."
LA Tech Assistant Coach Charles Ryan
Like all Inspiration Award winners, Cobb was chosen not only for her athletic achievements, but also for her strength of character and for the outstanding example she sets for young women everywhere. She says she's very proud to be a Honda Inspiration Award winner, and is thrilled to be recognized by a program that has honored some of her track & field heroes in the past, like Gail Devers and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Says Cobb: "I was really surprised when I learned I had won the Honda Inspiration Award, and I feel very honored. Throughout my whole ordeal with cancer, the thought of getting back to school and track were two things that really helped keep me going. If I had any advice for people facing difficult life situations it would be to focus on the things that you love most, because that is what can inspire you to return and to get well. The six months of my life devoted to undergoing surgery and chemotherapy actually increased my drive to succeed and decreased my fear of tackling hard situations."
Most recent Inspiration Award winners include: Nicole Hester, Basketball, Drexel University (2009); Patience Knight, Track & Field, Texas Tech (2008); Jess Kohut, Softball, The College of New Jersey (2007); Lindsay Payne, Swimming, Williams College (2006) and Brittney Kroon, Basketball, Seattle Pacific University (2005). (See complete list attached.)
The Collegiate Women Sports Awards, now in its 34th year, annually recognizes and honors the accomplishments of female athletes in NCAA-member colleges around the country. Acknowledging both athletic achievement as well as team contributions, scholastics and community involvement, the program selects winners in 12 different NCAA-sanctioned sports, including basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions. On June 21, 2010 at a ceremony in Los Angeles, at which the "Top Three" finalists are scheduled to attend, the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. has sponsored the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program for 25 consecutive years. Honda has donated over $2 million in grants and scholarships to universities over the course of the program. See www.hondaawards.com for more information.
For complete coverage of Lady Techster Track and Field, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
HONDA INSPIRATION AWARD PAST RECIPIENTS
2008-2009 NICOLE HESTER, basketball Drexel University
2007-2008 PATIENCE KNIGHT, track and field Texas Tech University
2006-2007 JESSICA KOHUT, softball The College of New Jersey
2005-2006 LINDSAY PAYNE, swimming Williams College
2004-2005 BRITTNEY KROON, basketball Seattle Pacific University
2003-2004 CHANDA GUNN, ice hockey Northeastern University
2002-2003 KRISTY McPHERSON, golf University Of South Carolina
2001-2002 KRISTIN KOETSIER, basketball Western Michigan University
2000-2001 KENDRA BERNER, swimmer Davidson College
1999-2000 JOHANNA OLSON, cross country Luther College
1998-1999 JENI JONES, volleyball University Of Florida
1997-1998 HEIDI ANDERSON, volleyball Bentley College
1995-1996 CORINNE CARSON, basketball Marymount College
1994-1995 ALLYSSA JOHNSON, softball Arizona State University
1993-1994 HALEY SCOTT, swimming University Of Notre Dame
1992-1993 JENNIFER MEAD, basketball Providence College
1991-1992 HEATHER STEPP, gymnastics University Of Georgia
1990-1991 TRACY NICHOLS, cross country Vassar College
1989-1990 JILL ROBERTSON, track and field Montclair State College
1988-1989 ANGIE JACOBS, softball University of California, Berkeley
1987-1988 MARIE ROETHLISBERGER, gymnastics University Of Minnesota