By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech golf coach Polk Brown released the annual postseason honors for the Golden Eagle women's team Thursday, presenting four student-athletes with awards earned for the 2020-21 season.
Taking home the Most Valuable Player Award for the women's team was senior Hannah Bratton. The Most Improved Player Award went to sophomore Elisabeth Toennessen while the Coach's Award was presented to freshman Ainsley Simms. Junior Heidi Lawson marked the team's Bobby Nichols Award for Leadership winner.
Winning her first team MVP honor, Bratton led the Golden Eagles in scoring average with a mark of 78.64 in a season limited to just six events and 17 rounds of action due to the cancellation of the fall due to COVID-19. A two-time winner of the team's Most Improved Player Award, she turned in a top finish of eighth place at Tech's annual Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, posting a season-low 227.
"Hannah is very deserving of the Most Valuable Player Award this year," Brown expressed. "She's just been a rock in the classroom and a constant, positive, encouraging influence on the team. To see her grow and mature as a young woman over the last four years has been awesome, and we are very excited to have her back for a fifth year. The experience she will bring, especially to our incoming freshmen, will be invaluable. We are so thankful to have her."
Toennessen, the team's Most Improved Player, marked one of just two Golden Eagles to play all 17 rounds for her squad in the abbreviated season, earning a starting spot at all six tournaments after competing in just eight rounds as a rookie. The Grimstad, Norway native finished third on the team with a scoring average of 79.41 and turned in a career-low 230 at the Kiawah Island Classic.
"Elisabeth definitely came into her own this year," Brown said. "She played very, very well at Kiawah and really took that confidence with her the rest of the semester. She was always so focused on improving every day which showed in the progress she made from fall to spring."
Earning the Coach's Award, Simms completed 12 rounds in four total events for the purple and gold, producing a scoring average of 79.83 to rank fourth on the squad. The Maryville, Tenn. native delivered a season-low score of 236 while competing at the Colonel Classic in just her second event as a Golden Eagle.
"Ainsley coming in as a freshman during the fall in a pandemic year and having to make those adjustments of being in college was tough for her at the beginning," Brown explained. "The strides she made from fall to spring both on the course and in the classroom were extraordinary.
"She's had a great attitude and loves to be on this team. She constantly wants to improve and I'm very excited to see what she can do over these next few years."
On her way to the Bobby Nichols Award for Leadership, Lawson ranked second on the team in scoring average with a mark of 79.14, playing in five of the team's six events. The native of Kodak, Tenn. posted a season-best 230 at the Colonel Classic and collected a top-25 finish at the OVC Championships.
"It's been a tough year for all of us with everything going one with COVID and losing the spring season last year and the fall season this year," Brown expressed. "There was a lot of leadership among our ladies this year, but Heidi really stood out, particularly with the things required of us and everything that had to be done to work through the pandemic while juggling school and golf.
"She set such a great example for the team. She was very positive about the situation, took it head-on and did the things she needed to do. The professional approach she had with everything provided some great leadership to the rest of the team, and we're very appreciative of that."
The Gilbert Darcy MVP Award and the Most Improved Player Award have both been presented since 1994. Last season, the Coach's Award and Bobby Nichols Award for Leadership were established for the first time, replacing a few other honors from the past.
The Coach's Award goes to the player displaying the best attitude, most dedication and biggest impact to the team for the given year. The Bobby Nichols Award for Leadership, named after the late, Hall of Fame head coach, is presented to the player who has shown and provided the most leadership on the team during the given year.