The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Postgraduate Scholarship has been presented yearly since 1986 to the SEC’s top male and female scholar-athlete. Each of the conference’s 14 schools will nominate a female and male student-athlete, and the winners each receive $20,000; the remaining 26 finalists each receive $10,000.
A committee of faculty athletics representatives from the SEC schools will vote on the award recipients and announce them in May.
Waddell, a double major in management information systems and finance, was the SEC Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2020. He was the high-point scorer at the 2020 SEC Championships and a four-year All-American, earning eight SEC titles along the way. Waddell is the conference record holder in the 100 back, 200 & 400 medley relays and 200 free relay. In the summer of 2019, representing South Africa, Waddell won a world title in the 50-meter back and became the World University games record holder in the same event.
Alabama’s female nominee is softball player Bailey Hemphill.
Nero – a December 2019 grad with a degree in biochemistry – was a four-time All-American as a senior, finishing in the top five in the SEC in the 200 and 400-meter individual medleys. She swam the fourth-fastest times in Auburn history in the 200 IM and 400 IM in her final season and was a member of the SEC Community Service Team.
As an undergrad, Nero conducted biochemistry research synthesizing peptides and tutored second graders at a local elementary school. She intends to continue her education at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, according to the announcement.
Auburn’s male nominee is baseball player Blake Schilleci.
Past swimmers to win the McWhorter award include Georgia’s Virginia Diederich, Linda Leith, Deanne Burnett, Andrew DeVooght, Kim Black, Wendy Trott, Shannon Vreeland and Maddie Locus; LSU’s Martin Nyberg, Auburn’s Caesar Garcia, Kristen Hastrup, Jordan Anderson, Dan Mazzaferro and Erica Meissner; Tennessee’s Lauryn McCauley and Christine Magnuson, Texas A&M’s Sarah Gibson and Alabama’s Anton McKee.