Rocco is Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award Winner
Senior defensive back Chris Rocco was honored today at Liberty University’s Convocation Service as he was named the 2010 Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award winner, the University’s highest athletics honor.
The annual award was presented to Rocco by Liberty University Director of Athletics Jeff Barber and Theresa Rivera, niece of Mac Rivera.
In 1975, the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award was established to honor the top 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.
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.
Rocco has posted a 3.95 cumulative GPA during three and half years as a kinesiology major at Liberty and has been a member of the University’s dean’s list for seven-straight semesters. This past season, Rocco was named to the Big South all-academic team and the FCS Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star team.
Additionally, the Forest, Va., native was named to the 2009 CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic First-Team All-America team, becoming Liberty’s 16th Division I student-athlete to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Rocco is the third football player in program history to be named to a CoSIDA Academic All-America team and the second to earn first-team honors.
Off the field of competition, Rocco has been an active mentor for his fellow teammates, as he is the founder and leader of the program’s Gridiron Bible study. Rocco has served as an officer in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and has been involved in an elementary reading program at his alma mater, Liberty Christian Academy.
On the gridiron, Rocco helped Liberty capture its third-straight Big South title last fall, as the Flames finished the year with an 8-3 record and ranked No. 21 in the final FCS Coaches Poll.
The senior ranked third on the team with 57 tackles, helping him earn Big South second-team all-conference honors. The three-year starter finished his stint at Liberty as the program’s active career tackles leader with 163 career stops, to go along with 11 career pass break ups and five fumble recoveries.
Rocco was part of the winningest senior class in Liberty’s 37-year football history. His graduating class posted a four-year 32-13 record and was the first senior class in program history to not have a losing season on its record.
Rocco is the 41st recipient of the Rock Royer/Mac Rivera Award and the 10th football player to be named the award’s honoree. The last football student-athlete to receive the accolade was Sam Gado, who shared the honor with Danielle McNaney, in 2005.
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)