Jennifer Sher, Joey Franco Named Big West Scholar Athletes

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- Cal State Northridge student-athletes Jennifer Sher (women’s tennis) and Joey Franco (men’s soccer) were named Northridge’s Scholar Athletes of the Year at the 2012 Big West Conference Scholar-Athlete Banquet Thursday morning at the Orange County Doubletree. Sher, a psychology major, was an All-Big West First Team selection in both singles and doubles while Franco, a finance major, also earned All-Big West honors and served as a team captain during the 2011 season.

Junior defender Joe Franco has made an impact for the Matadors both on and off the field since his arrival from Monrovia High School in 2008. He has appeared in every possible game for Northridge in his career (58 total) and has been a co-captain of the squad the last two seasons.

“It is a tremendous honor for Joey and our program for him receiving this honor,” said men’s soccer head coach Terry Davila. “He is everything you want from a student-athlete.”

Franco was named All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention after the 2011 season and has one goal and four assists for six total points in three seasons with the program. In addition to captaining the defense for the Matadors, Franco also spends time in the community helping younger athletes realize their dreams of playing at the next level.

“Joey is very important to our community as far as reaching out to elementary and middle school students and is the hardest worker in practice and in the classroom,” Davila continued. “He is a high-quality kid and has had a positive effect on our younger players to help us move forward.”

Franco scored the lone goal of his career in his first playing season for the Matadors in 2009 against UC Riverside. In 2010, he had an assist in CSUN’s upset victory at UC Irvine and also had an assist in Northridge’s upset over UCLA for the program’s first ever win at the home of the Bruins. Both UCI and UCLA were ranked No. 7 in the country at the time.

Sher, a transfer from Concordia (CA), made an immediate impact for Northridge on the courts for head coach Gary Victor.

Sher played primarily at No. 2 singles on the season and finished her first year at Northridge with a 17-5 record. The 17 singles wins were the most by a Matador individual in 2011 and she wracked up notable victories over Cal Poly twice, UC Davis, San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara and LMU. Sher also earned Big West Athlete of the Week honors twice during the season.

"Jennifer is a such a rare combination of a fantastic athlete and a fun, humble and awesome teammate for this program," Victor concluded. "She is the furthest thing from a diva and works hard and represents us so well. She has tons of integrity and is so much fun to be around for everyone involved in our program."

In doubles action, Sher teamed with Brooke Doane to form one of the greatest doubles teams in school history. As a tandem, Sher and Doane finished the season 16-2 with all of those decisions coming at the No. 1 draw. The duo finished a perfect 6-0 against league foes and posted notable victories over Arizona, Long Beach State, San Diego State, Dartmouth, LMU and Cal Poly.

"I think Brooke and Jennifer will go down as one of the best doubles teams in school history," CSUN head coach Victor stated. "They represented us with such class. They were never close to a bad call, didn't have any confrontations or any of the ugliness that can be prevalent in college tennis."

This season, Sher has played primarily at the top draw in both singles and doubles and has helped lead Northridge back into the national rankings.

Off the court, Sher is an outstanding student who has maintained a high GPA since coming over to America from her home of Hong Kong. She expects to pursue graduate opportunities in the field once her playing career is over. Her sister, Chloe, is a sophomore on the women’s tennis team at Seton Hall University and the two have talked about playing doubles together professionally.

"I've found that it is easier to balance the educational and athletic demands in America than in Hong Kong," Sher explained.  "In Hong Kong, the educational demands are so great that they sometimes take away from your training. But I had always wanted to come to the United States and this is a great learning experience that has helped me to become more independent."

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