Pictured (Left to Right): Director of Athletics Jeff Barber with Jesse Sanders, this year's Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award winner, Manuel Rivera, brother of Mac Rivera and Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award Senior point guard Jesse Sanders was honored today at Liberty University's Convocation, as he was named the 2012 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award winner, the University's highest athletics honor. The annual award was presented to Sanders by Liberty University Director of Athletics Jeff Barber and Manuel Rivera, brother of Mac Rivera. In 1975, the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award was established to honor the top graduating senior student-athlete at Liberty University who best exemplifies the standards and lives of both of these great Christian men. Rock Royer was Liberty's first football coach in 1973. Mac Rivera was a member of Liberty's basketball team from 1972 until 1975. Both Rock Royer and Mac Rivera tragically died at a young age, with Royer dying in a plane crash and Rivera passing away after a fall. This award encompasses more than just athletic ability. It recognizes the Liberty University graduating senior student-athlete who has maintained an exemplary testimony on the playing field, in the classroom and among the student body. Sanders has posted a 3.36 GPA during his four years at Liberty. In addition to being named to the dean's list on three occasions, the Sugar Land, Texas native is also a three-time Big South Presidential Honor and was a member of the conference's all-academic team this past season. Away from the court, Sanders has enjoyed giving back to the community and is active in Liberty's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). As a member of SAAC, Sanders has helped support the growth of Special Olympics in the Lynchburg area. In his sophomore year, Sanders spurred on a campaign to collect shoes for the organization Samaritan's Feet, which provides footwear for children around the world who are without shoes. Sanders has also represented Liberty SAAC at both the NCAA and Big South's annual leadership conferences. An active member of the community, Sanders has provided instruction in numerous basketball clinics at Lynchburg area schools, including Dunbar Middle School and Sandusky Elementary. He has also worked with ministries such as One Community Church and Athletes in Action, helping underprivileged children develop their skills in the game of basketball. Along with his work in the community, Sanders has remained active in Christian service, speaking at local area churches, leading Bible studies and going on mission trips to Africa and South America. Sanders has also supported Fellowship of Christian Athletes, speaking to various clubs and camps throughout Central Virginia. Sanders closed out the 2011-12 season No. 3 in the country in assists with 8.0 per game. In addition to leading the Big South in helpers, Sanders finished fifth in rebounds (7.8 rpg) and 21st in scoring (12.5 ppg). With his performance on the year, the floor general garnered his second consecutive first team Big South All-Conference honor. During his junior year, Sanders was voted the Big South Player of the Year, earning Associated Press (AP) All-America Honorable Mention. Sanders made history on several occasions throughout the 2011-12 campaign. In a regular season matchup against 2012 Big South Champion UNC Asheville (Jan. 7), the senior recorded 10 assists to surpass Radford's Amir Johnson (2007-10) as the Big South's all-time assist leader. Three weeks later, Sanders broke a 32-year old record held by Karl Hess (1977-1980) to become Liberty's all-time assist leader. Sanders became the first player in Division I history to record a triple-double in each of his four collegiate seasons, posting 14 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in Liberty's 84-78 win at High Point (Jan. 21). The point guard is the only player in Big South history to have four career triple-doubles and at least 1,000 points (1,235), 800 rebounds (815) and 700 assists (727). Sanders finished his Liberty career 15th in school history in scoring, fifth all-time in rebounds and first in assists. This award has now been presented for 38 years. Sanders is the 43rd recipient of the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award and the sixth men's basketball player to receive the honor. Sanders becomes the first men's basketball player in 11 years to win the award, as Nathan Day was named a co-recipient along with women's pole vaulter Andrea Wildrick in 2001.
Rock Royer Award 1975 - Sling Patterson (Football) 1976 - David Neff (Football) 1977 - Scott Goetz (Football)
Mac Rivera Award 1977- Paul Dalton (Men's Basketball)
Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award 1978 - Gary Avila (Wrestling) 1979 - Dave Anderson (Football) 1980 - Karl Hess (Men's Basketball) 1981- David "D.J." Hertzler (Football) 1982- Sharon Snodgrass (Women's Basketball) 1983 - Bill Gillespie (Football/Men's Track & Field) 1984 - Rick Seilhamer (Wrestling) 1985 - Sue Andrew (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field) & Dave Bream (Baseball) 1986 - Ron Starner (Men's Soccer) 1987 - Pam Wilder (Women's Basketball) 1989 - Kathy Guetterman (Volleyball) 1990 - Lynn Attwood (Cross Country/Track & Field/Women's Basketball) 1991 - Craig Holiday (Wrestling) 1992 - Mike Coleman (Men's Basketball) 1993 - Theresa Bream (Volleyball/Women's Basketball) 1994 - James Downey (Football) & Matt Hildebrand (Men's Basketball) 1995 - Todd Setsma (Men's Golf) 1996 - Ryan Werner (Men's Track & Field) 1997 - Michael Prettyman (Men's Track & Field) 1998 - Ben Anderson (Football) 1999 - Jarrod Everson (Football) 2000 - Elena Kisseleva (Women's Basketball) 2001 - Andrea Wildrick (Women's Track & Field) &Nathan Day (Men's Basketball) 2002 - Heather Sagan (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field) 2003 - Collin Mascagni (Men's Soccer) 2004 - Tatiana Tkachuk (Volleyball) 2005 - Sam Gado (Football) & Danielle McNaney (Women's Track & Field) 2006 - Sonia Rodriguez (Women's Soccer) & Phillip Thompson (Baseball) 2007 - Arlene Zelinskas (Women's Track & Field) 2008 - Allyson Fasnacht (Women's Basketball) 2009 - Beth Bennett (Softball) 2010 - Chris Rocco (Football) 2011 - Zach Duke (Football) 2012 - Jesse Sanders (Men's Basketball)