Personal Development

Personal Development


 Commitment to Personal Development ensures that each student-athlete participating in Vanderbilt Athletics will be provided with opportunities to focus on personal growth issues such as defining  values, setting goals, and learning fiscal responsibility. Each component will be focused toward developing a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Student-Athlete Orientation

Each first-year student-athlete will engage in a resource opportunity to understand what resources and information is available to them. Over the course of their time as Vanderbilt Student-Athletes they will engage with resources such as:

Engaging Wellness

Vanderbilt Athletics approaches the student-athlete experience wholistically which necessitates collaboration between the different departments that make up our athletic department. Vanderbilt student-athlete development staff work closely in programming efforts with Mental Health and Performance, Nutrition, and Student Services teams. 

Project Safe

The mission of the Project Safe Center is to provide information, support, referrals, and education about sexual and intimate partner violence (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking), as well as consent, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality to the Vanderbilt University community. Each semester Vanderbilt Athletics holds Project Safe office hours. Our Vanderbilt Athletics’ Project Safe coordinator is Otis McGresham, EdD. 

Otis holds a Doctor of Education in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change from Lipscomb university, a Master of Higher Education Administration degree from Texas A&M University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication from Western Michigan University.  Advocacy and education have been a consistent part of Otis’ student affairs career that began in 2003. Along with his passion for serving students, he brings broad professional experience from multiple functional areas of student affairs. Previously, Otis has served as the Assistant Director for Interpersonal Violence Services and Advocacy and the Rape Prevention Education Coordinator in the North Carolina State University Women’s Center and Coordinator of Student Assistance Services and Hall Director at Texas A&M University. Otis’ focus is on creating and maintaining educationally purposeful environments where all students feel safe, empowered, and encouraged to participate fully and authentically in the university experience. Connecting prevention principles to everyday activities, Otis works to empower our entire community to make tangible steps toward violence reduction. Otis is the primary coordinator of Project Safe’s bystander intervention and healthy masculinity programming. To set up a time to meet with Otis, email him at

Real Response

Vanderbilt student-athletes can access a platform where they can anonymously share feedback with administrators on issues impacting their student-athlete experience. Feedback may range from positive shout outs about people or aspects benefitting your experience, as well as compliance issues, gambling, hazing, drugs/alcohol, discrimination, sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, health/wellness issues, and locker room maintenance. To utilize Real Response, test “Share” to 66595.

I Am More Than

Sam DeFabrizio, Vanderbilt Men’s Cross Country Alum (2017) stated, ““It starts with asking, what do I do outside of my sport, and what do I care about?” DeFabrizio said. “So many of us define ourselves by being passionate about our sport, but ultimately it’s important to get away from that, too. Many student-athletes do amazing things at Vanderbilt athletics, from a focus on service to artists to people who are passionate about their country. It’s good to celebrate those who do things outside of their sport.”

DeFabrizio and many VU athletes understand themselves as more than a student-athlete. At a highly competitive institution, it is unsurprising that Vanderbilt student-athletes often are known for their academic accolades. And at a Division 1, SEC premier college, athletic pursuits are forefront in the college journey. The “I am More…” campaign highlights student-athletes’ array of accomplishments in addition to their respective sports.

Events & Workshops

Nashville Cultural Experience
We are lucky enough to partner with amazing community partners to host a day of immersion for student-athletes each summer. This experience allows student-athletes to see Nashville outside of the lens of the college-bubble and dive into the good work that is happening all around them when they move here. Interested in being a part of the Nashville Cultural Experience? Contact Student-Athlete Development here.

Senior Student-Athlete Workshop Series
Senior student-athletes have the opportunity to take advantage of their resources and time before they graduate to solidify networking experiences, job planning, budgeting, and other key topical areas to create a successful journey post grad.

Golden Dores

Golden Dores is an annual tradition where student-athletes gather to celebrate each others’ achievements, both on and off the field. 

Awards Include:

Commodores of the Year

Awarded to a graduating senior student-athletes who best represents their team, the student-athlete body, and the campus community.

2020-2021 Commodore of the Year: Cameron Robinson (Football)

2020-2021 Commodore of the Year: Kaley Buchanan (Swim)

2019-2020 Commodore of the Year: Harrison Ray (Baseball)

2019-2020 Commodore of the Year: Nemo Sanchez (Swimming)

2018-2019 Commodore of the Year: Patrick Martin (Men’s Golf)

2018-2019 Commodore of the Year: Fernanda Contreras (Women’s Tennis)

Jim Robins Award

The Jim Robins Award is given annually to perpetuate the memory of James A. Robins, class of 1892, whose life and teaching exemplified selfless devotion to learning, to honor, to participate in sports and to service to youth and Vanderbilt. It is awarded to the senior student-athlete in whose life these virtues are most evident.

2020-2021: Melissa Hawkins (Lacrosse)

2019-2020: Cody Markel (Football)

2018-2019: Melanie Becker (Lacrosse)

Social Impact Award

Awarded to a student-athlete who has performed numerous hours of community service and has made a significant contribution to the Nashville community.

2020-2021: Lindsey Gordon (Swimming)

2019-2020: Cody Markel (Football)

2018-2019: Gabby Rademaker (Soccer)

Dr. Jerry Reves Award

Awarded to the graduating senior student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA.

2020-2021: Nicki Dadino (Lacrosse)

2019-2020: Kendall Derry (Women’s Cross Country)

2018-2019: Kristin Quah (Bowling)

Male Player of the Year

Awarded to the student-athlete who had the most significant athletic impact on their team.

2020-2021: Matthew Estopinal (Men’s Cross Country)

2019-2020: John Augenstein (Men’s Golf)

2018-2019: Will Gordon (Men’s Golf)

Female Player of the Year

Awarded to the student-athlete who had the most significant athletic impact on their team.

2020-2021: Gabby Fornia (Lacrosse)

2019-2020: Nia Dorsey (Soccer)

2018-2019: Kristen Denk (Track & Field)

“Play of the Year”

Awarded to the student-athlete who had the most outstanding play that was either a turning point in their season or the cause of a significant moment or win for their team.

2020-2021: Sarah Fuller, the first woman to play and score in a Power 5 game (Soccer & Football)

2019-2020: Baseball’s National Championship

2018-2019: Bowling’s NCAA Championship

Newcomer of the Year

Awarded to the student-athlete who is either a freshman or a first-year transfer who had the most significant impact on their team.

2020-2021: Corey Pacernick (Men’s Cross Country)

2020-2021: Haley Bishop (Track & Field)

2019-2020: Scotty Pippen Jr. (Men’s Basketball)

2019-2020: Koi Love (Women’s Basketball)

2018-2019: Aaron Nesmith (Men’s Basketball)

2018-2019: Haley Walker (Women’s Cross Country)

Comeback Player of the Year

Awarded to a student-athlete who has either triumphed over physical adversity or a student-athlete who has persevered to achieve their goals in their respected sport.

2020-2021: Hugh Fisher (Baseball)

2020-2021: Christina Rosca (Women’s Tennis)

2019-2020: Cam Johnson (Football)

2019-2020: Hannon Eberts (Soccer)

2018-2019: JJ Bleday (Baseball)

2018-2019: Haley Hopkins (Soccer)

Godfrey Dillard Award

Awarded to a student-athlete who has overcome obstacles on or off the field.

2020-2021: Cameron Robinson (Football)

2019-2020: Andre Mintze (Football)

2017-2018: Turner Cockrell (Football)

Perry Wallace Courage Award

The Perry Wallace Courage Award was established in 2014 to honor the legacy of former Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball player, Perry Wallace, the first black varsity basketball player in SEC history. This is awarded to a student-athlete(s) who has displayed uncommon courage.

2020-2021: The members of the Black Student-Athlete Group

2020-2021: All Vanderbilt Student-Athletes