Kristen Nuss earns Corbett Award as top female athlete in Louisiana

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Kristen Nuss

NEW ORLEANS – After closing her career as one of the top collegiate beach volleyball players in history, LSU star Kristen Nuss has been selected as the winner of the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s James J. Corbett Award as the top female amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana.

The Corbett Awards (male and female) have been selected since 1967 by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The all-time list of winners includes 19 NFL players, nine Major League Baseball players, four NBA players (including two Hall of Famers), eight Olympians (including seven Gold Medal winners), three WNBA players and one PGA Tour star.

The Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Hall of Fame class. Overall, 23 individuals and two teams will be honored for their 2020-21 achievements at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on July 24. Honorees are being announced over a period of 23 days – the final award will be announced tomorrow (July 21) when the male Corbett Award is released.

Jimmy Collins Special AwardsDr. Greg Stewart, Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine
Outstanding Boys’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Gerald Lewis, St. Augustine Basketball
Outstanding Girls’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Julie Ibieta, Metairie Park Country Day Volleyball
Outstanding Female Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Kristen Nuss, LSU Beach Volleyball
Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Jared Butler, Baylor Basketball
Eddie Robinson AwardSidney Parfait, American Legion Baseball
Outstanding Boys’ Prep Team, New Orleans: McMain High School Basketball
Outstanding Girls’ Prep Team, New Orleans: Dominican Volleyball
Outstanding Collegiate Coach, Louisiana: Dennis Shaver, LSU Track & Field
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Les Bonano, Boxing
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Bernard Griffith, Basketball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Joanne Skertich, Volleyball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Reggie Wayne, Football
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Frank Wills, Baseball
Corbett Award – Female: Kristen Nuss, LSU Beach Volleyball
Corbett Award – Male: July 21 (Wednesday)

Kristen Nuss

When Nuss arrived at LSU in 2017, the Tigers were a developing team in the fledgling sport of beach volleyball – in their first two seasons, they had posted a 20-19 record. With Nuss leading a talented group of classmates, LSU jumped onto the national scene, qualifying for its first NCAA Championship. And the combination never looked back as Nuss and the Tigers have reached the NCAA Championship, which is only the top eight teams in the country, every year since.

“Kristen will always be tied to our rise as a program,” said LSU head coach Russell Brock. “Our success mirrors her pathway as an athlete. She came in relatively unknown and relatively unskilled with a lot of potential and she walked out of here as somebody that everybody around the country knows as one of the best who’s ever done it. We owe a lot to her, not just because of her performance, but also because of the example that she set and the standard she set for our team.”

Nuss’ career is arguably the best-ever for a beach volleyball player at any school. She recorded 139 victories while pairing with a handful of talented teammates. And the 2021 season was without question her best. The New Orleans native teamed with Taryn Kloth to post a perfect 36-0 record, tying the best record by an undefeated pair on Court 1 ever and the pair was selected as the American Volleyball Coaches Association Beach Pair of the Year (the equivalent of National Players of the Year) as well as being All-Americans. Nuss was named the National Player of the Year by Volleyballmag.

“I went into college and was just a raw athlete,” Nuss said. “I didn’t have much opportunity to play beach volleyball [as it wasn’t as prominent of a sport] so I didn’t have any bad habits. I give all credit to the LSU coaches, especially [assistant coach] Drew Hamilton, who molded me and made me into the player I am today.”

Nuss starred in volleyball and basketball at Mount Carmel Academy and as a senior she was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year. She finished her high school career with five state championships (three in volleyball and two in basketball) and was named the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Year for 2015-16.

“I think my biggest accomplishment is the record for career wins,” Nuss said. “And not because it’s my name on the record, but because it’s Louisiana and LSU. Beach volleyball is known as a California and West Coast sport. To bring recognition to my state means so much to me.

“I have great pride for Louisiana,” she continued. “I tell everyone that Louisiana is the best and I do my best to represent my state in the best way possible. To be a Louisiana native and to win the Corbett Award means a lot to me.”

Nuss’ volleyball career has already transitioned to the professional ranks as she’s competing on the Association for Volleyball Professionals (AVP) tour with Kloth. The duo opened their pro careers with a victory in their first tournament – the AVPNext Gold event in New Orleans. Her ultimate athletic goal is to represent the United States in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The other female finalists for the Corbett Award were Angela Charles-Alfred (Xavier University Tennis), Lisa Gunnarsson (LSU Track & Field) and Taylor Ann Wilson (Centenary Gymnastics). Charles-Alfred closed her distinguished career by earning All-America honors for the fourth straight year after helping Xavier reach the NAIA semifinals for the third consecutive time as she finished the season 20-5 in singles and 28-4 in doubles. Gunnarsson, a native of Paris, became the first woman since 2010 to win the pole vault championship at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships – when she won gold at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, it was LSU’s first women’s pole vault champion in history. Wilson made history for Centenary when she won the national championship in individual bars at the 2021 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championship in April – she posted a career-high mark of 9.875 to win the event and become the first Centenary gymnast to win a Division III national title.

Corbett Award Candidates

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month – the honors enter their 65th year in 2021. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 99 Hall of Fame players, 51 Hall of Fame coaches and 19 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 88th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will feature top teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade.

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