TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Tampa athletic department is saddened following the death of one of the most prolific student-athletes in school history. According to reports, Melissa Vanderhall and her mother, Lynn, were among the three victims in a triple homicide in New York on Saturday morning.
"Our coaches and former players are devastated by the news of the passing of Melissa and Lynn Vanderhall," says head coach Chris Catanach. "Melissa had accomplished her goal of becoming a physician's assistant and her life was beginning to blossom. Melissa had a physical and athletic gift and met the description of a perfect student-athlete. She was always invested in our program and was a main reason for us playing for the 2010 national championship."
Vanderhall, a four-year letterwinner and member of the 2006 national championship volleyball team at UT, finished her career as one of the most decorated individuals in University of Tampa and Sunshine State Conference history.
While playing for the Spartans from 2006-10, Vanderhall was a three-time first-team All-American who was twice named the SSC Player of the Year. Her long list of awards also included being a three-time all-South Region selection, two-time South region all-tournament team and member of the 2010 NCAA Championships all-tournament team.
She also became the first person in program history to become a two-time South Region Player of the Year as her two SSC Player of the Year honors were also a first for the Tampa volleyball program. A three-time first-team All-SSC selection, Vanderhall was also on the all-freshman team in 2007.
Her success extended to the classroom as well, where she became the first player in program history to be a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District member. She was also named to the SSC Commissioner's Honor Roll for her achieving a 3.2-plus GPA in each of her four playing seasons as a Spartan.
Active in the community as a student-athlete, she was accepted into Big Brothers Big Sisters Club, a volunteer with the Family and Children's Association, where she worked with underprivileged children, participated in the Christmas giveaway at Just Elementary, raised money for Dig for the Cure and "Think Pink" night and Volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House.
She was also a member of the National Honor Society and Science Honor Society, a Scholar-Athlete who volunteered for the Special Olympics and Athletes Helping Athletes and served as a student tutor and peer mentor.
A native of Hempstead, New York, she was a graduate of Uniondale High School prior to receiving her bachelor's degree in allied health from the University of Tampa in 2011.
Following is service information for Melissa and Lynn Vanderhall
Wake: Thursday, 5-9 pm, Jackson Memorial AME Zion Church, 60 Peninsula Blvd., Hempstead, N.Y. 11550
Service: Friday, 10 am, Jackson Memorial AME Zion Church
Funeral: Friday, following service, Greenfield Cemetary, 650 Nassau Road, Uniondale, N.Y.