WORCESTER, Mass. – In its new home, the Worcester State University Athletic Department held its student-athlete ceremony on the John P. Brissette Competition Court inside the Wellness Center on Monday, May 1st.
The night kicked off with refreshments and hors d'oeuvres above the competition gymnasium on the walking track where athletes were able to socialize with their teammates, friends, and coaches.
Once everyone got settled into their seats looking down onto the stage, the ceremony began. Worcester State's deputy Athletic Director, John Meany, and the Dean of Students, Julie Kazarian, opened the ceremony with a presentation of the 2017 senior class.
It was then that Worcester State president, Barry M. Maloney, Worcester State Director of Athletics, Michael Mudd, and guest speaker, Tony Reno took the stage. Reno, a Worcester State Alumnus and current head football coach at Yale University, gave the audience an inspirational speech.
"Take the wins and losses away, sports is about people," said Reno. "Building relationships with your teammates and coaches is more important. When you look back, a small part is going to be about the games, but a huge part of it is about the relationships you made."
Reno's advice to the audience was to be kind with everything you have, compete with yourself to be the best you can be, don't forget where you came from, believe in yourself and most importantly, continue to build your relationships with people.
Following Reno's speech, the Athletic Department staff then took the stage to recognize those who have excelled academically and athletically. Worcester State's academic achievers were announced, and then Worcester State's "Chi Alpha Sigma" honorees were brought to the stage to receive their award and chord. The senior recipients were: Allison Baker, Katherine Becker, Anthony Bement, Caitlyn Brennan, Rachel Couto, Valerie Hoyle, Kayla Humphrey, Melanie Hunter, Shelby Jankins, James LeNoir, Alaina Martin, Daniel McGuill, Mary McKeown, Derek Moore, Charles Newman, Vanessa O'Donnell, Isaac Ofori, Kristen Pessa, Noah Phelps, Courtney Salisbury, Patrick Sharron, Crissostomos Villarreal.
A recognition of Worcester State's All-Conference student-athletes, MASCAC Championship teams (men's soccer, women's soccer, field hockey, men's indoor track & field, men's outdoor track & field), and coach of the years followed (Jason Willis, Alexa Carlson, and Karen Tessmer), before getting to the major awards.
The Rookie of the Year award was presented to both a male and female who had outstanding accolades in their first year with Worcester State. Ben Palatino (Hudson, Mass.) of the baseball team, and Olivia Antonelli (Westford, Mass.) were the recipients of this award.
A new award to this year's ceremony, was the Athlete of the Year, which was given to both a male and female for outstanding athletic performance by a student-athlete over the course of the 2016-17 academic year. The two recipients of this award were Sam Weeks (Methuen, Mass.) of the football and track & field teams, and Sydney Despres (Sterling, Mass.) of the softball team.
The Rich Korzec Service Award was presented to Worcester State's intern, Taylor Shippee of Nichols College, for her outstanding service to the Athletic Department. Shippee dedicated her time at Worcester State serving the department, its facilities and constituents with outstanding service and dedication.
The next three awards were for the seniors and their accomplishments throughout their career at Worcester State. First, was the Lancer Award, who is awarded to a male and female who exemplified dedication to their program, leadership qualities, and good sportsmanship. The two recipients of this award were Paul Brooks (Arlington, Mass.) of the men's basketball team, and Meghan Pini (Natick, Mass.) of the field hockey and women's lacrosse teams.
Next, was the Margaret "Peg" Nugent Scholar Athlete Award who was awarded to a male and two females this year, as these seniors showed outstanding performance not only out on the field or on the ice, but also in the classroom with exceptional GPA's. James LeNoir (Exton, Pa.) was the male recipient of this award, while both Rachel Couto (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Allison Baker (Somerset, Mass.) of the softball and field hockey teams, respectively, were the female recipients.
The last award of the night was the Robert Devlin Senior Athlete of the Year. This award was given out to a male and female who showed outstanding performance and achievement throughout the course of their career at Worcester State. The male recipient of this award, was Brooks, who was a four-year starter and two-year captain for the men's basketball team. The female recipient of this award, was Courtney Salisbury (Cranston, R.I.), who was a two-year member of the volleyball team and a four-year starter on the softball team.
Video stream of the Awards Ceremony can be found HERE
Photos of the Awards Ceremony can be found HERE