Willimantic, Conn. –More than 100 student athletes, coaching staff and administrators gathered in the Betty R. Tipton Room on May 3 for Eastern Connecticut State University’s annual athletic awards banquet. Greg DeVito, head coach for the men’s soccer team, was the master of ceremonies with Interim Director of Athletics Cynthia Washburne and Vice President of Student Affairs Ken Bedini giving the welcoming remarks. The event was sponsored by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Intramurals and Recreation.
Bedini presented the senior awards to 55 graduating student athletes, recognizing the end of their athletic eligibility to compete in Division III competition in their given sport at Eastern. Next were the Scholar Athletes and Outstanding Scholar Athletes Awards, presented by Provost Rhona Free, as well as the Team Faculty Athletic Representative Award for Academic Achievement given to the women’s volleyball team. “The women’s volleyball team has been very successful in the classroom with a cumulative GPA average of 3.47 after the fall 2013 semester,” said DeVito.
The Morrell Service Award, named after the Morrell brothers who attended Eastern and served as members of the Athletic department staff, was awarded to JenTamindzija. Tamindzija has been employed by the Athletic Department for three years and as an Event Staff Supervisor for two years. “Throughout her career, Jen has proven to be a conscious leader in every sense of the word,” said DeVito.
Next were the Rookie of the Year Awards given to a male and female student-athlete in their first year of eligibility and based primarily on the individual’s athletic performance. The men’s award went to Greg Walton of the men’s soccer team. Walton became the only third freshman goalkeeper in the 25-year history of the Little East Conference (LEC) to gain first-team honors at that position. In seven LEC regular season matches, Walton led the conference in goals against average and was third in save percentage.
The female Rookie of the Year Award went to Adrianna Mihalek of the women’s volleyball team. “Last fall, Adrianna became the volleyball program’s first Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year and first “First-Team” freshman in 10 years,” said DeVito. “In seven Little East regular season matches, she was second in the conference in kills and tied for seventh in points per match.”
Track and Field athlete Natalie Bowens was awarded the Individual Sport Rookie of the Year Award. “Natalie needed only five meets to merit this award,” said DeVito. A competitor during the outdoor track and field season in the sprints and jumps, Bowens broke the program triple jump record in only her third collegiate meet.
Male Athlete of the Year Awards was given to lacrosse player Mike Devine and basketball player Mike Garrow. In his career, Devine has scored at least one goal in all but five games, and had 23 straight games with a goal during his sophomore and junior seasons still an Eastern record. Garrow was named the first NABC Division III men’s basketball All-American in Eastern history, and was also the program’s first LEC Player-of-the-Year.
The Female Athlete of the Year Award was given to softball player Mattie Brett. “During the regular season, her 14-game hitting streak was the longest by a player this season,” said DeVito. “Mattie has never missed a game in her three-year Eastern Career.”
The Individual Sport Athlete of the Year Award was given to Katie King of the women’s swim team. King went undefeated in dual-meet competition in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events.
The Bonnie J. Edmondson Sportswoman of the Year Award, named after Bonnie Edmondson, a four-year member of Eastern’s track program who was an Olympic qualifier as an alternate in the hammer, was awarded to volleyball player Erynn Miller. Miller was the first person named team captain by Head Coach Peter Maneggia in his 15 years of coaching. Maneggia describes Miller as “a leader on and off the court who was vested in the ‘team first’ mentality.”
Lastly, the Francis E. Geissler Sportsman of the Year Award, named after former athletic director and men’s basketball and baseball coach, Francis Geisler, was awarded to Carl Stensland of the men’s soccer team. During Stensland’s three seasons as a student-athlete, DeVito characterized him as “one of the most reliable and responsible student-athletes that I have ever coached.”
Closing remarks were made by DeVito, with a special thanks to Janice Patry, assistant director of athletics, for her role in organizing the evening’s event.