DAPHNE, Ala. – When it comes to winning at the highest level, few, if any, do it better than February’s choices for the United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Month – Tom Brady and Brittany Bowe – as selected through a worldwide fan vote.
In leading the New England Patriots to victory in their seventh Super Bowl appearance, Brady became a four-time NFL quarterback champion to join the legendary likes of Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as being the only starting signal-callers to hold that distinction. Bowe, currently the world record-holder in the 1,000 meters and American record-holder in the 1,500 meters, won those same events at the World Single Distance Championships.
A surefire Hall of Famer who continues to perform in elite fashion at the age of 37, Brady held off Americans Ted Ligety, a skier, and Russell Westbrook, a basketball star for the Oklahoma City Thunder, for the Academy’s honor. His performance in Super Bowl XLIX February 1 was, once again, memorable and earned him game MVP honors. His team behind 10 points entering the fourth quarterback, Brady was near-flawless, connecting on 14 of 16 attempts for 130 yards and two scores. On the game-winning drive, the San Mateo, Calif., native went 9-for-9 for 71 yards, the final three on a TD aerial to Julian Edelman. All told, he completed a Super Bowl-record 37 passes for 328 yards and four scores. The MVP was his third, tying a record set by Montana.
Ligety, who finished second in the voting, won a third straight giant slalom title at the world championships February 13, becoming just the third man to win three straight world titles in any discipline. Third-place finisher Westbrook’s month was historic in conjuring up memories of NBA great Oscar Robertson, who was known for routinely posting triple-doubles. In addition to winning all-star game MVP honors midway through the month, Westbrook averaged 31.2 points, 10.3 assists and 9.1 rebounds per game in February.
Competing in mid-February at Heerenveen, Netherlands, Bowe topped the field twice and then beat out Ethiopian distance runner Genzebe Dibaba and Romanian tennis player Simona Halep in voting for the Academy’s honor. A former basketball player and inline speed skater, Bowe has found her groove in her current sport, specializing in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters. The 27-year-old Ocala, Fla., native took gold in the latter two events at Heerenveen and silver in the other. Her success was a welcome change for the U.S. team, which had disappointed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She even set a track record in the 1,000, beating the defending champion, Russia’s Olga Fatkulina, in the process, with a time of 1 minute and 13.90 seconds. She then won the 1,500 in 1 minute and 54.27 seconds, beating another defending champion, Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.
Dibaba, who came in second in the voting, shattered the 5,000-meter world indoor record February 19 with a time of 14:18.86 at the XL Galan meet in Stockholm, Sweden. The time was five seconds better than the previous mark. Third-place finisher Halep won the Dubai Championships February 21 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, giving her 10 career WTA titles.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.