Tina Charles Named Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Athlete of the Year

Tina Charles, who was named the 2012 MVP of the WNBA after leading the Connecticut Sun to the regular-season Eastern Conference championship, and Jonathan Quick, the former Hamden High School and Avon Old Farms hockey goaltender who sparked the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup championship, have been selected as the state’s athletes of the year by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance.

Charles will receive the Hank O’Donnell Female Athlete of the Year Award, while Quick is the recipient of this year’s Bill Lee Male Athlete of the Year Award. They will be honored at the 72nd Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 28 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.

This year’s Gold Key winners are former NBA player Mike Gminski, E.O. Smith boys soccer coach John Blomstrann, UConn field hockey coach Nancy Stevens, Staples cross country and track coach John “Laddie” Lawrence and former New Haven College basketball star Gary Liberatore.

Charles, a former UConn player, enjoyed her best season as a professional in 2012 when she averaged 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds, both team highs, while leading the Sun to a 25-9 record, the Eastern Conference crown in the regular season and the WNBA conference finals in the playoffs.

She won her third consecutive WNBA rebounding title — every year she’s been in the league — while her 594 total points represented a new Connecticut single-season scoring record.

In addition to leading the league in double-doubles for the third straight year, the 6-foot-4 center became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 1,000 career rebounds. She accomplished the feat in her 89th game, an 85-74 victory over the New York Liberty on Aug. 18, 2012 in which she had nine rebounds. The previous record was held by Yolanda Griffith, who reached 1,000 rebounds in her 92nd game.

It all added up to an MVP season for the 24-year-old Charles as she collected 25 of 41 first-place votes. She also earned All-WNBA First-Team honors for the second year in a row after being named to the second team in her 2010 Rookie of the Year season.

The WNBA wasn’t the only place Tina Charles shined in 2012. She was also a key member of the Olympic gold medal U.S. women’s basketball team which went a perfect 8-0 at the Summer Games in London. Charles was third on the team in scoring with 10.5 points a game, while her 59 rebounds and 7.4 rpg were a close second to team leader Candace Parker with 62 and 7.8.

The Sun made Charles the overall No. 1 pick in the 2010 WNBA draft and in her first season she set all-time league records for rebounds with 398 and double-doubles with 22. This came on the heels of an outstanding four-year career at UConn where she helped lead the Huskies to back to back undefeated national championships in 2009 and 2010. She was named the Final Four MOP as a junior in 2009 and the Big East Player of the Year as a senior in 2010.

A native of Jamaica, N.Y., Charles played at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y., where she was named the National Player of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association after averaging 26.5 points, 14.8 rebounds and 5.2 blocked shots her senior year. She is currently playing overseas in Poland.

Tickets to the 2013 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., can be purchased by contacting either CSWA President George Albano of The (Norwalk) Hour at (203) 434-2320 or Vice President and Dinner Chairman Bob Ehalt of The New Haven Register at Ehalt.Bob@sbcglobal.net.