NEW YORK (April 11, 2017) Wisconsin Volleyball All-American Lauren Carlini was announced as the winner of the 87th AAU James E. Sullivan Award in a ceremony at the New York Athletic Club.

“We are extremely proud to call Lauren our 87th winner of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award,” said Melissa Willis, AAU Sullivan Award National Chair. “Lauren represents everything great about amateur athletics. She is not only a phenomenal athlete, but her character, leadership and citizenship are consistent with the values of this award.”

Carlini is the first-ever volleyball player to take home the award. She topped Olympic gold medalists Kyle Snyder (wrestling), Laurie Hernandez (gymnastics), Aly Raisman (gymnastics), Ashleigh Johnson (water polo), Kayla Harrison (judo) and Ginny Thrasher (Olympic shooting) for the honor.

A member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. National Team at the 2016 Pan American Cup, Carlini is the first four-time All-Big Ten pick in program history. She ranks first at Wisconsin with 74 career double-doubles and second in career assists with 5,599.

“As one of the largest multi-sports organizations in the nation, this award is really the epitome of what the AAU represents,” said Dr. Roger J. Goudy, President/CEO of the AAU. “Part of the mission of the AAU is to provide a venue for amateur athletes to promote good sportsmanship and good citizenship. The winner – as well as our finalists and semifinalists – truly embodies that mission.”

The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country.

World renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986) and Michael Phelps (2003). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton(1973) and University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) have also earned the prestigious honor.

Inaugural AAU Gussie Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award - Jesse Owens

Gussie Crawford

Also honored during the ceremony was track and field star Jesse Owens, who received the inaugural AAU Gussie Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously. Owens’ granddaughter Gina Hemphill-Strachan accepted the award on his behalf.  The award was named on behalf of Gussie Crawford, the first female president of the AAU (elected in 1988).  She was on hand to present the award.

To watch the ceremony in its entirety:


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The Award

Known as the "Oscar" of sports awards and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to founder and past president of the Amateur Athletic Union, and pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.


The AAU was founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sports. During its early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the U.S. in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic games. After the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the AAU has focused its efforts into providing sports programs for all participants of all ages beginning at the grass roots level. The philosophy of "Sports for All, Forever," is shared by over 700,000 participants and over 150,000 volunteers.
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