Fields & Marks Earn Prestigious UC Awards

June 24, 2013

CINCINNATI – The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics announced its most prestigious end-of-year accolades Monday, the Jimmy Nippert and Helen Norman Smith Awards.

The awards are presented to the top senior male and female student-athletes, respectively, who have distinguished themselves by academic achievement, athletic accomplishment and service to the campus community.

Women’s track and field student-athlete Mackenzie Fields (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mariemont) received the Helen Norman Smith Awards, while Tommy Marks (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne) from the men’s track and field squad was named the Jimmy Nippert Award winner.  

Fields, a Cincinnati native, finished her career with numerous academic and athletic honors. She holds the school record in both the indoor and outdoor pole vault and swept the 2013 BIG EAST Conference titles in the event. Fields was also named an NCAA All-American indoors after finishing 10th at the NCAA Championships. She earned an event win at the 2013 Drake Relays and set the meet record and tied the stadium record at the Jesse Owens Classic. Described as a consummate team player by women’s head coach Susan Seaton, Fields served as team captain this year.

Fields also excels in the classroom. A secondary education major, she was named UC’s TopCat Female Student-Athlete of the Year, the 2012-13 American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Conference Institutional Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year for UC and was most recently named to the 2013 CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-America District 5 team. She is also a member of UC’s Bearcats STRONG team, which recognizes student-athletes for their academic and athletic accomplishments, as well as community service activities.

Marks is an aerospace engineering major and has completed six co-op rotations with Gulstream Aerospace in Savannah, Ga. As a result of his hard work, Gulfstream hired Marks as a structural test lab engineer following the completion of his eligibility. He made the dean’s list five times and the Bearcat Honor Roll every academic period at UC. Marks was also named to the BIG EAST All-Academic team in 2012.

Marks ranks 10th on the UC career charts the outdoor pole vault with a personal-best jump of 16’6-3/4”. That leap earned him a spot in the NCAA First Round in 2011. He also finished sixth in the BIG EAST in 2010 and fourth in the conference in 2011. Injured and unable to compete in 2012, Marks came back for a fifth year and jumped to season-best efforts of 16’2” during indoor competition and 16’3/4” during the outdoor season to cap off his senior year.

Men’s head coach Bill Schnier expressed that Marks is the “prototype of a successful student-athlete.” He took campus and community involvement seriously, having volunteered with UC Hall Opening Team (HOT) and served as volunteer sprints, hurdles and jumps coach for Savannah Christian Preparatory School track and field team in 2011 and 2012 while he completed his co-op.

Over the next three weeks, UC will recognize its other 2012-13 award recipients, including Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year and Team of the Year.

About Jimmy Nippert

Jimmy Nippert was a center on the 1922 and 1923 UC football team that became the namesake of UC's historic home facility. During the season-ending clash with rival Miami (Ohio) in 1923, Nippert sustained a spike-wound injury and died a month later from blood poisoning. His grandfather, James N. Gamble of Procter and Gamble, provided the funds needed to complete the horseshoe-shaped structure, and the James Gamble Nippert Memorial Stadium was dedicated on Nov. 8, 1924.

About Helen Norman Smith

Helen Norman Smith came to UC in 1922 as an instructor in health and physical education and rose to the rank of assistant professor in 1923 and associate professor in 1926. For much of her tenure, she served essentially as the athletics director for women’s sports, which operated on a philosophy of broad-based participation. She organized the first certified health education course of studies at UC and was elected to UC’s James P. Kelly Athletics Hall of Fame in 1979.