Utah Valley women’s soccer player Hannah Bruce and men’s soccer player Alec Felix have been named the 2019-20 Western Athletic Conference Stan Bates Award winners. Named in honor of former WAC Commissioner Stan Bates, the annual award is given to the WAC’s top male and female scholar-athletes and recognizes athletic, academic and community accomplishments. The award includes a $3,000 postgraduate scholarship.
Including Bruce and Felix, Utah Valley University has now produced a total of six student-athletes who have received the prestigious honor: Tyson Lambert (Cross Country/Track & Field), Kyle Valgardson (Baseball), Lexi Robison (Women’s Soccer), and Holton Hunsaker (Men’s Basketball).
“What a tremendous honor for both Hannah and Alec. They truly epitomize what it’s meant to be “student-athletes” during their highly successful careers,” said UVU director of athletics, Dr. Jared Sumsion. “They’ve set the bar high and left a lasting legacy here at UVU. Not only have they had the amazing individual athletic and academic accomplishments but have both been part of incredibly successful programs. The thing I’m most excited about is their future success and I look forward to what’s to come from each of them.”
Bruce, from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada, earned her bachelor of science in psychology with a 4.00 cumulative grade-point average in December of 2019. A Rhodes Scholarship finalist, she constantly earned Dean’s List honors at Utah Valley while also leading the Wolverine women’s soccer team to the top of the conference standings. As a sophomore, she was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year, as selected by the coaches, and received First Team All-WAC honors in 2017 and 2019 in addition to second team honors in 2018.
In addition to her work in the Orem community, she attended the 2019 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Orlando, Fla. and was also selected to and attended the inaugural NCAA APPLE Institute in San Diego, using her academic knowledge in psychology and her experience as a student-athlete to help further discussion and policies regarding substance abuse prevention and health among student-athletes. She continues playing soccer at the professional level as she signed a contract with Puerto Rico Sol based in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and plans on continuing her studies as a graduate student at Oxford.
On the pitch, she appeared in 64 matches in her Wolverine career, anchoring one of the top defenses in the WAC. As a sophomore, she was named Defensive Player of the Year and helped UVU make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC Tournament.
“Hannah is different and special,” said UVU head women’s soccer coach Chris Lemay. “On the field she was a leader that holds herself and her teammates accountable. She often breaks the barriers of what others perceive as glass ceilings. She views challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, and her passion and attitude are the same on a soccer field, in the classroom and how she carries herself through life.”
Felix, from Mapleton, Utah, graduated in December 2019 with his bachelor of science in business management.
Having started 74 of 76 matches for the Wolverines over the course of four seasons, he has played a large part in the rise of Utah Valley men’s soccer on the national stage. Earning Academic All-WAC honors all four years at UVU, he earned Honorable Mention All-WAC honors as a sophomore and junior before earning Second Team All-WAC honors as a senior. Off the field, he volunteered with numerous youth soccer programs around Orem and worked with the Hometown Hero Project , helping vets, active duty military, police, and first responders with the home-buying process.
“A leader by example both on and off of the field, Alec was not just admired by his coaches and teammates, but he gained the respect of opponents throughout the conference by his commitment to the game and professional demeanor despite the circumstances and outcome of a match,” said Utah Valley head men’s soccer coach Greg Maas.
The Stan Bates Award dates back to 1980-81 and has honored 71 WAC student-athletes. Utah Valley’s total of six is tied for second all-time along with Hawai’i and Colorado State. The University of Idaho has had nine student-athletes receive the award to lead all schools. Schools from Utah have won it 15 times; Utah Valley (6), BYU (5), Utah (3) and Utah State (1).