Suzukis Win Top Award

Feb. 25, 2010

Fullerton, Calif. - Former Titans' baseball player Kurt Suzuki and his wife, Renee Vignery Suzuki, a former Titan volleyball player, will be honored at Cal State Fullerton's Vision & Visionaries 2010 with the Recent Graduate Achievement Award.

Vision & Visionaries awards are the highest that can be bestowed upon alumni of the university. The event is a black-tie optional affair on Apr. 24 at the Costa Mesa Hilton.

Kurt Suzuki is preparing for his fourth major league season and is the starting catcher for the Oakland A's. He was one of 30 nominees for MLB's 2009 Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contribution to their team. The award is named after the 12-time All-Star and Hall of Famer who was killed in 1972 while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Renee Suzuki (2005) was a multi-sport scholar-athlete at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance who played four seasons (2000-03) on the Titans' volleyball team as a defensive specialist and occasional setter. Three times she won the team's scholar-athlete award.

Some of the Suzukis' major projects in 2009 were fund-raising activities to offset the huge medical bills incurred by his former Titan teammate, Jon Wilhite. Also a catcher, Wilhite made a miraculous recovery from an internal decapitation suffered in the early Apr. 10 automobile crash that killed Angels' pitcher Nick Adenhart, former CSF cheerleader Courtney Stewart and Wilhite's high school friend, Henry Pearson.

One of the few native Hawaiians in major league baseball, Kurt was a walk-on for the Titans in 2002 who developed into an All-American catcher and was the winner of the 2004 Johnny Bench Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate catcher. He also won the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's top player and played for Team USA in 2006. He drove in the winning run in Fullerton's 3-2 victory over Texas for the 2004 national championship. He was selected on the second round of the 2004 major league draft by Oakland and made his major league debut on June 12, 2007.

After earning her bachelor's degree in child and adolescent development in 2005, Renee gained two teaching credentials, the second in mild to moderate special education. She currently substitute teaches so that she is free to follow Kurt's baseball travels. Renee assisted in several Oakland-based fundraisers with the team and, with the assistance of Katie (Mrs. Orlando) Cabrera, spearheaded the efforts to assist Wilhite.

Visons and Visionaries was established in 1994 as an event to recognize Cal State Fullerton's most distinguished alumni.

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