PSU Athletics announces annual award recipients

PSU Athletics announces annual award recipients

Panthers recognize 12 with prestigious honors for 2014-15

             PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University Athletics department has announced the recipients of its major awards for the 2014-15 school year, honoring a dozen students for their outstanding achievements in athletic competition and performances in the classroom and in the community.

            The awards are presented annually and honor former coaches and educators who were pioneers in the development of physical education and athletics at Plymouth State. All of the award recipients will be honored in a formal ceremony at PSU this October.

            PSU recognizes the leading athletic performances each year with the Paul E. Arold Male Athlete of the Year and the Janet Nell Female Athlete of the Year Awards.  The top seniors are selected for the John C. Foley Leadership Awards and the top scholar-athlete receives the Van A. Hartman/Vernon Kelly Award. Additional awards are presented honoring Peter Cofran, Dorothy ‘Dot’ Diehl and Brad Wilby.

            Junior skier Takehiro Watanabe (Sapporo, Japan) and junior ice hockey player Andrew Wigg (Lantz, Nova Scotia) are the co-recipients of the Paul E. Arold Male Athlete of the Year honor. Watanabe became just the third alpine skier in school history to compete in the NCAA Skiing Championships, one of only 16 ski racers from the East in all NCAA Divisions to qualify. Wigg was named All-New England and Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring and helping the Panthers to the MASCAC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.

            Junior tennis player Zara Jakubas (Califon, N.J./Voorhees) is the Janet Nell Female Athlete of the Year recipient. Jakubas became the first player in Little East Conference history to earn LEC Player and Rookie of the Year Award in the same season, finishing with a 14-0 record at No. 1 singles and a 14-1 mark at No. 1 doubles. She led the Panthers to a 14-0 fall season (14-1 overall), the LEC regular season and tournament championships and a berth in the 2015 NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championships.

            Lacrosse standouts Nick Allard (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Academy) and Rachel Fistori (Medford, Mass./Arlington Catholic) are the recipients of the John C. Foley Senior Leadership Awards. Allard is a two-year co-captain and two-time All-Conference defender who led the Panthers to a 12-4 mark this season, equaling the program record for wins in a season while posting the team’s best conference finish in 15 years. Fistori is a two-year co-captain, an All-Region selection and the Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Year who led the Panthers to a 13-4 record and the LEC regular season title.

            Sophomore soccer goalkeeper Felix Lindeberg (Stockholm, Sweden) is the Van A. Hartman/Vernon Kelly Award recipient as PSU’s top scholar-athlete. A biology major, Lindeberg holds the highest cumulative grade point average among all PSU student-athletes. He was earned PSU President’s List honors each semester at the University, and was the Men’s Soccer Panther Award recipient this past season.

            Senior ice hockey player Mike Freitag (Westmont, Ill.) and senior volleyball player Jana Nieman (Fair Lawn, N.J.) are the recipients of the Brad Wilby Award for character and service. Freitag became the 10th player in program history to reach the 100-point milestone, leading the team to its second conference championship in four years. He was also named the MASCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and earned a spot on the MASCAC Sportsmanship Team. Nieman was a four-year veteran and team leader on the volleyball team who served as co-captain as a senior. She finished her career in the top 10 on PSU’s all-time list for kills, and was selected to the New England Senior All-Star game after the season.

            Senior women’s lacrosse All-Star Amy MacDonald (Hull, Mass.) and field hockey standout Kristen Morris (Stoughton, Mass.) are the Dorothy ‘Dot' Diehl Award recipients for exhibiting leadership for the advancement of women's equity in sports. A Physical Education major, MacDonald was an academic scholarship recipient from PSU’s Department of Health and Human Performance and was a multiple PSU President’s List and Dean’s List student. She excelled on the lacrosse field, earning All-Region and Little East Conference Player of the Year honors. An Exercise Science and Sport Physiology major, Morris engaged her teammates in her senior research project for exercise science, and took the opportunity to tackle and educate others in the fight for Breast Cancer. A four-year veteran for the Panthers, she tied for third on team in scoring this season and helped the team to the ECAC New England Tournament championship.

            Seniors Chris Avery (Ashland, N.H./Plymouth Regional) and Chris “Lenny” Orlando (Middleboro, Mass.) are the recipients of the Peter S. Cofran Award for outstanding service and support for PSU Athletics. Avery was a valuable contributor as an official statistician for the PSU Sports Information Office, recording game statistics for more than a dozen of PSU’s teams. Orlando was a key member of the Athletic Events and Facilities staff, coordinating and supervising various home events.


PSU Athletics – 2014-15 Award Recipient Profiles 


Takehiro Watanabe, Skiing (Jr., Sapporo, Japan) 

Qualified for NCAA Skiing Championships, just the second skier in school history to compete at NCAAs … skied in slalom (23rd place) and giant slalom at NCAA’s in Lake Placid, Mar. 12-14…. 14th overall selection  to the NCAA’s from the East (out of only 16 total selections)…. Ranked 10th in Slalom in the EISA…. Posted a seventh place at the NCAA Eastern Regionals/Saint Lawrence Carnival and a Top 10 finish at the UVM Carnival…six top-10 FIS finishes… conference (EISA) opponents include University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth was named College, Middlebury College, and Colby College…Says Coach Andrew Gannon:  “Takehiro was named to USCSCA All Academic Ski Team with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or greater, and was nominated by the PSU Athletic Department for the "Capital One Academic All-America Team."  Takehiro is the complete student-athlete.  He brings a standard of academic and athletic excellence to the PSU community.”


Andrew Wigg, Ice Hockey  (Jr., Forward, Lantz, Nova Scotia)

Named to Division II/III All-New England Team by N.E. Hockey Writers… MASCAC Player of the Year and First Team All-MASCAC … led the MASCAC in scoring with 17 goals and 36 points. He also ranked ninth nationally in points per game (1.44) and 16th in goals per game (0.68)….had a 16-game scoring streak from December 12 to March 7, and he tallied at least two points in 12 of his 25 games…. Led team to 16-9-3 overall record, the MASCAC regular season title (14-3-1), the MASCAC Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth… Says Coach Craig Russell:  "Andrew was our most consistent offensive player this year. He plays in all situations and is a contributing factor on many levels. He controls the play very well and makes players around him better with his passing ability. He scored big goals for us all year. All coaches within the MASCAC voted him as our conference player of the year, which shows the respect that our opposition has for him and the abilities that he possesses."


Zara Jakubas, Tennis   (Sr., #1 Singles, #1 Doubles, Califon, N.J.)

Little East Conference Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, first person in LEC history to capture both awards in the same year…Named All-LEC First Team at No. 1 Singles and No. 1 Doubles… Posted a 14-0 record at No. 1 singles, and 14-1 record at No. 1 doubles, with only loss coming in NCAA Tournament… Set PSU Tennis records for wins in a season (at No. 1 singles and anywhere in the lineup)… LEC Player of the Week three times …received PSU Tennis/Lydia Briggs Most Valuable Player Award… Led PSU to 14-0 Fall season, a 14-1 overall record, and the LEC regular season (8-0) and Tournament Championships and berth in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Says Coach Barbara Rawlsky-Willett: “Zara transferred to PSU and immediately established herself as a dominant player. She went undefeated at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubled (until the NCAA Tournament), an unbelievable accomplishment, and led our team to a dream, undefeated season. She had one of, if not the best seasons in the history of the Little East Conference. She’s been amazing, and had a season like we’ve never had before.”


Nick Allard, Lacrosse (Sr., Defense, Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Academy) (2-year co-captain)

Two-time All-Little East Conference Second Team … Four-year veteran/three-year starter on defense ...anchored a PSU defense that led the Little East … led team to a 12-4 overall record, matching the program mark for wins in a season and setting a record with a 10-game winning streak…. Tied for second in the LEC with a 5-2 mark, the highest place in program history…Named to New England (NEILA) Academic All-New England Team (3.67 GPA as Exercise & Sport Physiology major)… one of PSU’s 20 Outstanding Graduating Seniors… From Coach Gordon Webb:  “Nick was a captain of the men’s lacrosse team both his junior and senior year.  His leadership abilities were a huge factor in this year’s team tying the school record for most wins.  But the fact that Nick was selected as one of the top twenty graduating seniors by the university and selected by his teammates as the team’s Panther award winner says more about his leadership abilities than I ever could.”

Rachel Fistori, Lacrosse (Sr., D, Medford, Mass./Arlington Catholic) (2-year Co-captain)

Second Team All-Region (Pilgrim Region)… Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and All-LEC First Team… Two-time First Team All-Conference… ranked sixth in program history in draw controls… Panther Award in 2013… Two-time LEC All-Academic Team… Multiple PSU President’s List and Dean’s List…  Led team to 13-4 overall record, LEC regular season title (6-0) and LEC Tournament runner-up…helped team to 2014 LEC Championship… Says Coach Kristin Tracy: "Rachel is an incredible leader and has grown tremendously through hard work and determination to be one of the best players in the LEC and in the country. Earning LEC Defensive Player of the Year and IWLCA All-Region honors this year and her success in the classroom shows her commitment to excellence in all areas of her life. Rachel leads by example. She was a recruited walk-on her freshman year with limited experience from her high school program. She has worked tirelessly every day the last four years to reach her goals to be a great player, a fantastic teammate, an incredible leader/captain and to make sure her team was successful. Through ups and downs, Rachel has been our rock leading the way and if you've ever seen her play you can see it in her actions on the field. She is extremely consistent, reliable and has been the steady force driving our program to ultimate success over the last four years."


Felix Lindeberg, Socccer (So., GK, Stockholm, Sweden)  (Co-Captain)

Biology major… PSU’s starting keeper this season… LEC All-Academic Team… Says Coach Rob Wright:  “Felix is an outstanding student-athlete.  He currently holds a 3.99 GPA in Biology (studying in a foreign language!) and has plans to become a medical doctor.  Outside of the classroom he has helped the Athletic Department on numerous occasions, volunteering to speak and be a tour guide at the 2013 and 2014 Athletic open house days, appearing in the departments ‘You can play’ video, as well as being the face of the Athletic Department summer 2014 fundraising campaign.  He represents Men’s Soccer on SAAC, and was the 2014 MS Panther Award winner.  Felix has also played a role in helping recruit Swedish students to PSU.”


Mike Freitag, Ice Hockey (Sr., F, Westmont, Ill.)

Led MASCAC in assists (23) and ranked second in points (34)…named  Most Outstanding Player in MASCAC Championship game… won MASCAC Championships in 2012 and  2015… recorded 100th career point in MASCAC title game, becoming 10th player in program history to record 100 career points.… Says Coach Craig Russell:  “Michael Freitag has been one of the finer individuals that I've had the pleasure of knowing. He is always willing to help, and is always presenting himself professionally. Whether it be at the rink, or around campus, Michael knows the importance of being a good person, and leading by example. He carries a 3.87 GPA in Finance with a minor in Economics. He has been on the President's List all 8 semesters. He is part of Phi Kappa Phi All Discipline National Honors Society as well as Delta Mu Delta International Honors Society for Business. He is a team leader with our Team IMPACT initiative, a day tutor at Plymouth Elementary, a volunteer at Plymouth Valley Youth Center, and our team's representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Michael was our Panther Award recipient this year, and has also been a member of the MASCAC All-Academic team for 4 straight years, as well as part of their Sportsmanship Team this spring."


Jana Nieman, Volleyball   (Sr., OH, Fair Lawn, N.J./Fair Lawn) (Co-captain)

 Four-year veteran hitter for the Panthers…was selected to the New England Senior All-Star game … led the Panthers with 257 kills this season, averaging 2.36 kills/set, and was second on the team with a.175 attack percentage…. finished her career with 672 kills, good enough for 10th place on Plymouth State's all-time leader board.  Her 2,132 attack attempts are also the ninth highest total in program history.… Says Coach Chris Kilmer:  “Jana was only a captain her senior year, but she’s filled a leadership role since her sophomore season.  She was always one of our hardest workers, demanding the most out of herself and her teammates alike.  She led by building positive relationships with each of her teammates and when she arrived to the gym everyone knew we were going to be fine.  Her physical talent will surely be missed next year, but her leadership and personality will be the harder things to replace. Specific to strength of character and a sense of responsibility, Jana not only led our team but has held positions and internships over the last two years dealing directly with caregiving to others.  As captain her primary focus was the well-being of her teammates – making sure they were taken care of, staying on track on and off the court and most importantly, being someone they could approach and talk to about anything.”


Amy MacDonald, Lacrosse   (Sr., Attack, Hull, Mass.) (Co-captain)

PSU HHP Department's Beatrice Hodgdon Scholarship recipient and Kelly Hartman Scholarship recipient… 4X PSU Academic Scholarship Recipient …4-Year Member of Phi Epsilon Kappa Honor Society…PSU President's List and 5X Dean's List … Second Team All-Region (Pilgrim Region)… Little East Conference Offensive Co-Player of the Year and All-LEC First Team… selected to IWLCA DIII North/South Senior All-Star Game… led the team in scoring with 60 goals, 28 assists and 88 points, the third-highest point total in a season in program history… became the sixth Panther in history to score 60 goals in a season, and the fourth with at least 28 assists… ranked fourth in the LEC in goals per game, and third in both assists and points per outing…. winds up her career second on PSU's all-time scoring list with 260 points (174g, 86a)…. ranks second on both career lists for goals and assists…. Led team to 13-4 overall record, LEC regular season title (6-0) and LEC Tournament runner-up… Says Coach Kristin Tracy: “"Amy is one of the greatest athletes and lacrosse players I've had the privilege of coaching. She has been one of the best players in the Little East Conference and in the country the last 3 years and her awards speak for themselves. She has been recognized nationally over the past few years as one of the best in the country. She is extremely hard working, has an innate ability to score and take the team on her back and has provided our team with enormous leadership over the last couple of years. She was a huge reason for why our team has been so successful."


Kristen Morris, Field Hockey (Sr., F, Saugus, Mass)

Four-year veteran on offense for the Panthers …tied for third on team in scoring this season… 2014-15 Panther Award recipient…Says Coach Bonnie Lord:  Kristen was a four-year member of the PSU Field Hockey Team. She was a strong leader for the TEAM and engaged her teammates in her senior research project for exercise science. Kristen's interest and motivation for physical fitness stems from her own healthy lifestyle. As a TEAM we were motivated in 2014 to play for TEAM NANCY as Kristen's Mom beat her challenge with Breast Cancer. Kristen took this opportunity to tackle and educate others in the fight for Breast Cancer.”


Chris Avery, Sports Information  (Sr., Ashland, N.H./Plymouth Regional)

From Kent Cherrington, Sports Information Director:  “Chris has been an extremely valuable member of the Sports Information staff, keeping (computerized) statistics at home games for more than a dozen Panther teams. He has learned the official statistics for all sports and all of the technology to produce live stats on our website. He is very reliable and trustworthy in the collection and recording of statistics, particularly when the SID cannot be at a game. He is very professional working with coaches and officials and is also valuable in teaching and overseeing the younger student workers. Chris has also been reliable with producing game programs for home events and updating websites as needed."


Chris “Lenny” Orlando, Events/Facilities (Sr., Middleboro, Mass.) 

From Associate Athletic Director Courtney O’Clair:  “Lenny has been with our department for five years. He has done just about every job a student worker can do. Lenny has been someone that I have counted on for the past few years. He’s been able to help me with setups and events from all aspects. Lenny is responsible, trust worthy, and everyone loves working with him. We will definitely miss the leadership and hard work Lenny put in next year!" 

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