INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – 2006 U.S. Senior National Team member Justin Spring of Burke, Va./University of Illinois was awarded the 2006 Nissen-Emery Award at the Collegiate Gymnastics Association banquet in Norman, Okla. The Nissen-Emery Award, which is also known as the Heisman Trophy of collegiate gymnastics, recognizes the senior gymnast who has established an outstanding record of achievement in gymnastics, good sportsmanship, fair play and scholarship throughout his collegiate career.
Spring, who was just named to his second senior national team, is the 2006 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. At the 2006 Big Ten Championships, he won the all-around and parallel bar titles, as well as finishing second on high bar, third on vault and fourth on floor exercise. In 2005, he competed in the World Championships; was the horizontal bar titlist at the Visa Championships; tied for second on the horizontal bar at the American Cup; and was the NCAA parallel bars champion. In 2004, he won the high bar title at the NCAA Championships and the floor exercise at the Big Ten Championships. A two-time team captain, Spring was the University of Illinois Athlete of the Year in 2004. Spring, who majors in speech communication, was an All-American in parallel bars (2003-05), high bar (2004-05), all-around (2005) and floor exercise (2003).
Other 2006 nominees were: Chad Buczek of Bridgewater, Mass./Pennsylvania State University; Nate Downs of Cincinnati/Stanford University; Jamie Henderson of Houston/University of Oklahoma; Ramon Jackson of Orlando, Fla./William and Mary; Michael Reavis of Tallahassee, Fla./University of Iowa; and Gerry Signorelli of Colorado Springs, Colo./University of Michigan.
Established in 1966, the Nissen-Emery Award is college gymnastics’ highest honor and is funded through an endowment established by Dr. Robert W. Emery, the 1969 winner. Other former recipients include: Guillermo Alvarez, University of Minnesota, 2005; Dan Gill, Stanford University, 2004; Daniel Furney, University of Oklahoma, 2003; Justin Toman, University of Michigan, 2002; Jamie Natalie, Ohio State University, 2001; Blaine Wilson, Ohio State University, 1997; John Roethlisberger, University of Minnesota, 1993; Jim Hartung, University of Nebraska, 1982; Peter Vidmar, University of California – Los Angeles, 1983; Kurt Thomas, Indiana State University, 1979; Bart Conner, University of Oklahoma, 1981; Peter Kormann, Southern Connecticut State College, 1977; and James Curzi, Michigan State University, 1966 (the first recipient).