BATON ROUGE - The Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes honored six LSU student-athletes as part of their academic achievements and community service for March.
Each month, five student-athletes are recognized for their academic improvement, dedication and proven ability. In addition, one student-athlete is chosen through LSU's Student-Athlete Affairs program for their volunteerism and commitment to the community.
March's student-athletes of the month are Lainie Fleming [Gymnastics], Mickey Johnson [Football], Mark Laird [Baseball], John Odo [Men's Basketball] and Danielle Stirrat [Swimming & Diving]. Simone Heyward [Softball] was selected as the Shaquille O'Neal Life Skills Program Athlete of the Month.
Fleming is majoring in microbiology, while Johnson and Odo are interdisciplinary studies majors. Laird is majoring in kinesiology, Stirrat is a psychology major and Heyward is majoring in sociology.
Heyward, a junior outfielder from Sacramento, Calif., has racked up numerous accolades which include two consecutive SEC Academic Honor Roll selections along with 2012 NCAA College Station All-Regional and 2012 NCAA Columbia All-Super Regional Team honors during the team's run to the 2012 Women's College World Series. Off the field, Heyward is well-known in the community, as she started the YANA (You Are Not Alone) project in the fall, after her mother passed away of cancer, with the aim to help cope with the loss of a loved one. She and gymnast Ericka Garcia recently visited the students of McKinley High School, where Heyward shared her experiences and advice to keep looking forward no matter what adversity one may face.
A junior uneven bars specialist from Glendale, Calif., Fleming has represented the gymnastics team by earning three consecutive Scholastic All-American honors and taking a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll two years straight. She also competed in the bars lineup in nine of 14 meets during her sophomore season and posted six scores of 9.70 or higher.
Johnson, a sophomore defensive tackle from Covington, La., redshirted during his freshman season and made his Tiger Stadium debut against Idaho during the 2012 season, where he notched an assisted tackle. As a high school player, he was a member of the ESPN 150 and ranked as the No. 11 best defensive tackle by ESPN.com.
A freshman outfielder from Monroe, La., Laird made an instant impact and started 15 of 16 games on the season. He has turned in a team-leading .411 batting average on 23 hits. He also has driven home six RBIs and was 4-for-5 with one double and two runs scored in LSU's 6-5 victory over BYU.
Odo, a junior center from Nigeria recently graduated from Hill College and will join the Tigers for the 2013-14 season with two years of eligibility. At Hill College, he averaged 12.4 points and 14.2 rebounds a contest, which earned him honorable mention junior college All-American honors.
A backstroke and freestyle freshman from Llanharr, Wales, Stirry broke LSU's 200 backstroke record at the NCAA Championships with a 1:56.76. On the season, Stirrat also swam LSU's fastest 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle and was a key contributor on the team's fastest 400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay.
For putting forth extra effort in the classroom and community in addition to their rigorous academic and competition schedules, these six student-athletes will have their pictures displayed on the wall in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes.