PSU Athletics annual award recipients announced

PSU Athletics annual award recipients announced

Brunnette, Einarsdottir voted Athletes of the Year

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University Athletic Department has announced the winners of its major awards for the 2017-18 academic year, honoring eight students for their accomplishments on the field of play, in the classroom and within the Plymouth community.

            The awards, presented annually, honor former coaches and educators who were pioneers in the development of physical education and athletics at Plymouth State. The eight recipients represent the best of more than 730 students who were involved with PSU Athletics as a student-athlete or support staff member during the 2017-18 school year. The award winners, selected following a vote by the head coaches and department administrators, will be honored during the annual PSU Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, October 20.

            "These students represent everything that Plymouth State Athletics is about," said Associate Director of Athletics Courtney O'Clair. "To truly be a Panther means being dedicated in the classroom, community, and on the playing surface. We are proud to honor these students as some of the best Plymouth State has to offer."

            PSU recognizes the top 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 scholar-athlete is awarded the Van A. Hartman/Vernon Kelly Award and the top seniors are selected for the John C. Foley Leadership Awards.

            Also presented are the Peter S. Cofran Award, recognizing outstanding service and support for PSU Athletics, the Dorothy "Dot" Diehl Award, honoring a female student-athlete who exhibits leadership for the advancement of women's equity in sports and physical education, and the Brady Wilby Award for leadership, character and service.

            * Cross country and track & field star Sam Brunnette (Newport Center, Vt.) was voted the Paul E. Arold Male Athlete of the Year for a second straight year after an historic junior season. The distance runner earned All-America status in cross country, indoor track & field (3,000 meters) and outdoor track & field (3,000 meter steeplechase), just one of five athletes nationally to accomplish the feat, while competing in the NCAA Championship in all three sports.

            * Junior alpine skier Freydis Einarsdottir (Garðabær, Iceland) was selected as the Janet Nell Female Athlete of the Year for an impressive third consecutive year after representing her home country in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, becoming the first PSU student-athlete to compete in an Olympic Games in school history. She posted a 41st place finish in the slalom in South Korea and served as Iceland's flag bearer during the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremonies, while also qualifying for the NCAA Skiing Championships for a third time.

            * Women's volleyball libero Brenna Peruch (Cave Creek, Ariz.) was chosen as the Van Hartman-Vernon Kelly Award winner as PSU's top scholar-athlete. As a senior Nursing major, Peruch was able to maintain her high academic standards without sacrificing anything on the volleyball court. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in an especially challenging major, while capping off a record-breaking career with her best season, earning All-LEC Second Team honors while leading the Panthers to the LEC Tournament semifinal round.

            * Peruch and classmate Cam Cormier (Auburn, Maine) of the men's lacrosse team were named the John C. Foley Leadership Award winners. Cormier embraced the role of captain on and off the field while maintaining an impressive GPA in the classroom as a double major in marketing and digital media; Peruch, a two-year captain, was selected by her teammates as the program's Panther Award winner an astonishing three times and graduates as the program's all-time leader in digs per set.

            * Senior tight end Elijah Johnson (Windsor, Conn.) and senior field hockey goalie and women's ice hockey forward Alivia Bates (Pennsauken, N.J.) were picked as the recipients of the Brad Wilby Award for leadership, character and service. In addition to playing a role on the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) champion football team, Johnson was a key member for many initiatives for University Advancement and Alumni Relations and was a valued member of the PSU sales program; as a dual-sport athlete Bates played significant roles in the success of two programs, earning All-LEC First Team recognition in field hockey and helping the women's ice hockey team to its first-ever playoff win, while also working in the Athletic department office.

            * Junior field hockey defender Patty Newhard (South Dennis, Mass.) is the winner of the Dorothy "Dot" Diehl Award for the advancement of women's equity in sports. She has been involved in the university's Turf Field Campaign and serves as a strong facilitator of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and the field hockey team's adoptee, Arielle Beaulieu.

            * Senior sports management major Matt Deignan (North Kingstown, R.I.) was selected as the winner of the Peter S. Cofran Award after serving as an assistant in the Athletic Communications office. He served the department as a statistician and public address announcer for 14 of the university's 24 sports, while also assisting in the office with website maintenance, game program design and record keeping.


PSU Athletics – 2017-18 Award Recipient Profiles


Sam Brunnette, Men's Cross Country/Track & Field (Jr., Distance, Newport Center, Vt./North Country Union)

One of five athletes nationally to earn All-America status in cross country, indoor track & field (3,000 meters) and outdoor track & field (3,000 meter steeplechase) … finished 25th at Cross Country National Championship … placed eighth in 3,000 meters at Indoor Track & Field National Championship … finished fourth in 3,000 meter steeplechase at Outdoor Track & Field National Championship … named LEC Cross Country Runner of the Year, Indoor Track & Field Track Athlete of the Year and Outdoor Track & Field Track Athlete of the Year … won LEC Cross Country title, two LEC Indoor Track & Field titles (mile run and 3,000 meters) and two LEC Outdoor Track & Field titles (3,000 meter steeplechase and 4x800 meter relay) … named USTFCCCA All-New England for cross country, indoor track & field (mile run and 3,000 meters) and outdoor track & field (steeplechase and 5,000 meters) … DIII New England Champion in cross country and outdoor track & field (5,000 meters) … set four school records … went undefeated against LEC competition (excluding teammates) ... Environmental Science major

FROM HEAD CROSS COUNTRY AND TRACK & FIELD COACH JOHN OSTLER: "Sam is a model student-athlete and a pleasure to work with. He's earned the respect of coaches, teammates and administrators for his dedication, respectfulness and investment in all things PSU beyond just his individual performance. The difference this year has been an openness on my part to involve him more in the planning of his training. I ask him regularly about his ideas for workouts and training structure. Getting his insight and feedback has been a great asset to me as a coach. It's helped him think more critically about what he's doing at practice and has helped take his running to a new, national level. As Sam has excelled athletically, he's also found his stride in the classroom. His GPA has steadily increased each semester since he's been on campus. Sam has grown as a leader and student and has burst onto the scene as one of the countries fiercest competitors. I can't wait to see how he caps off his career next year."



Freydis Einarsdottir, Women's Skiing (Jr., Slalom/Giant Slalom, Garðabær, Iceland/Menntaskólinn, Reykjavíc)

Represented Iceland at 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics … first PSU student-athlete to compete in Olympic Games … finished 41st among 78 racers in slalom in South Korea … Iceland's flag bearer … qualified for NCAA Skiing Championships for third straight year (only 16 skiers in all NCAA Divisions from the East qualify) … finished 26th in the slalom and 28th in the giant slalom at NCAAs … posted top-30 finishes in each of her EISA races (missed three events for the Olympic Games) … finished 14th in the giant slalom and 18th in the slalom at EISA Championships … added two other top-10 finishes, including a sixth-place in slalom at the St. Michael's Carnival ... Exercise & Sport Physiology major

FROM HEAD SKI COACH GEOFF OUELLETTE: "It was a true honor to be able to spend every day on the hill with Freydis. The level of commitment that she made to her success as a skier and student is hard to believe. This year was remarkably stressful for her, representing Iceland in the 2018 Winter Olympics, qualifying for the NCAA Championships and Icelandic National Skiing Championships, all while maintaining a high GPA. She is a true team leader and both men and women from PSU skiing look to her for advice and leadership. We are lucky to have her still for one more season and she will serve as our women's team captain in 2018-19."



Brenna Peruch, Women's Volleyball (Sr., Libero, Cave Creek, Ariz./Notre Dame) (Two-year Captain)

All-LEC Second Team ... second in LEC with 564 digs (seventh highest season total in program history) ... second in LEC with 4.99 digs/set (third best in program history) ... topped 25 digs seven times ... only player to appear in all 113 sets ... finished career with program-record 4.55 digs/set and 1,958 career digs (second most all-time) ... recorded 33 digs in 3-1 win over Western Connecticut in first round of LEC Tournament ... LEC All-Academic Team ... Nursing major

FROM FORMER HEAD VOLLEYBALL COACH CHRIS KILMER: I'm not sure there are words that can truly state the impact Brenna has had on the volleyball program, her teammates and me. She came to PSU four years ago looking for a chance to make herself better, and ended up making everyone around her better in the process. Although she wasn't officially a captain until her junior and senior years, she was a leader on the team as early as her freshman season. She is a three-time Panther Award winner, as voted by her teammates. She is prepared, fun, hardworking, well-respected, caring and compassionate … the type of athlete and person every coach dreams of having on their roster. She has always gone the extra mile for her teammates and had an especially full plate this year. As a Nursing major she was knee deep in clinical rotations on top of her other coursework and responsibilities as a team captain, but she was able to balance everything while maintaining her high academic standards to graduate Summa Cum Laude in one of PSU's most challenging majors, while capping off a record-breaking career with her best season on the court.



Cam Cormier, Men's Lacrosse (Sr., Midfielder, Auburn, Maine/Edward Little) (Captain)

Three multi-point games ... notched two goals and an assist in 13-9 win over Western Connecticut in first game after missing four games due to injury to start the season ... posted a goal and an assist in 17-11 win over UMass Boston in first round of LEC Tournament ... scored first of six straight goals to pull even with Keene State late in the semifinal round of the LEC Tournament ... LEC All-Academic Team ... Communications and Media Studies major

FROM HEAD MEN'S LACROSSE COACH GORDON WEBB: Cam constantly puts forth the effort and attitude to complete the task at hand and holds himself and his teammates accountable within the letter and spirit of the situation. He was an excellent team captain on and off the field. He was a very good student, posting a four-year cumulative GPA of over 3.39, while completing a double major in marketing and digital media. He was given outstanding accolades for his work as an intern with PSU's Marketing Communications and Creative Services team by its director, Marlin Collingwood. Additionally, his excellent leadership and communication skills were on full display in May when he made a presentation to all senior student-athletes, coaches, staff and administrators at the annual Student-Athlete Senior Banquet.



Elijah Johnson, Football (Sr., Tight End, Windsor, Conn./Farmington)

Appeared in all 11 games ... finished season with four catches for 39 yards for MASCAC champion Panthers ... had a 24-yard catch and run in a 24-7 win over Fitchburg State in the regular season finale ... closed out career with one catch against Brockport State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament ... Business Management major

FROM ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS LAUREN LAVIGNE: I witnessed a great transformation in Elijah over the course of his four years at Plymouth State. He left PSU as a great representative of our football team and a trusted and committed student employee. Elijah stepped up for many initiatives for University Advancement and Alumni Relations and was a valued member of the PSU Sales program and event management team. Elijah is a great success story for PSU and will be one to continue giving back to Panther Athletics.



Alivia Bates, Field Hockey/Women's Ice Hockey (Sr., Goalie/Forward, Pennsauken, N.J./Pennsauken) (Captain – FH)

Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division III All-New England West Region Second Team ... All-LEC First Team ... led LEC in goals against average (1.30) and save percentage (.824) ... posted four shutouts ... finished career with 17 shutouts (second most in program history) ... helped guide ice hockey team to first home playoff game and first playoff victory ... LEC All-Academic Team (Field Hockey) ... NEHC All-Academic Team (Ice Hockey) ... Criminal Justice major

FROM HEAD FIELD HOCKEY COACH BONNIE LORD: Liv has been a respected member of the PSU field hockey team for her four years. As a dual sport student-athlete Liv had decided not to return to the field hockey team for her junior year in the fall of 2016 to focus on ice hockey. I fully supported this decision as ice hockey was her passion and the program was bringing in a new coach. However, we had an unfortunate accident with our goalkeeper and Liv was the first to step up and say that she would come back. I was very proud of her for her commitment and Coach Haun, Liv and I all worked together for her success. Liv led the 2016 team to the Little East Conference semifinals and never looked back as she was voted captain for 2017. My respect for Liv is centered around her focus, strength of character and her leadership. She was the field hockey team's inaugural recipient of the Arielle Award in 2016, which goes to someone who exhibits resilience, courage, strength of character and service to others. Liv is one of Ari's favorite players and people. It was always heartwarming to see Liv melt in Ari's presence. I knew Brady Wilby and I know that he would be honored to have Liv be recognized for all that he portrayed every day of his short life.



Patty Newhard, Field Hockey (Jr., Defense, South Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional)

Started all 18 games ... finished season fifth on the team with 14 points ... tallied five goals and four assists on the year ... recorded three defensive saves ... notched the game-winning goal in a 4-0 win over Western Connecticut ... anchored a defense that allowed just 23 goals in 18 games (1.27/game) ... Sports Management major

FROM HEAD FIELD HOCKEY COACH BONNIE LORD: Patty is the epitome of the advocate for women's sports and equality. She has been in the unenviable position of not having had the opportunity to have a home field during her career at PSU, but she has taken a positive and proactive approach by becoming involved with the university's Turf Field Campaign. Patty's on field demeanor and talent would make Coach Dot proud to have her as a recipient of this prestigious award. Patty is also very involved in on-campus projects and a strong facilitator of our adoptee Arielle and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.



Matt Deignan, Athletic Communications Assistant (Sr., North Kingstown, R.I./North Kingstown)

 FROM ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COMMUNCATIONS FOR ATHLETICS CHRIS KILMER: Matt has been a mainstay in the Sports Information/Athletic Communications office for the last few years and was a huge help this year in particular as I finished my last season coaching volleyball. All of our fall sports coaches have Matt to thank for keeping home statistics while he was also serving as Public Address announcer. He worked an inordinate amount of hours, especially in the fall while I was pulling double-duty, to make sure statistics, game programs, rosters and the website were up-to-date and accurate and that opposing coaches got what they needed before, during and after each contest. He was always timely and professional, filled a ton of roles for the department and also helped teach a new wave of student-workers about the ins-and-outs of the job. He worked with each of our sports programs on some level, and was knowledgeable about all 24 of our sports. Without a doubt he was the glue that held the office together during the fall and will be sorely missed next year. 



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