NEWTON, Mass. – This past Sunday, May 1st, the Mount Ida College athletic department closed the 2015-16 seasons with the second annual Mighty Awards, a celebration of the student-athlete, where they took a look back at the best moments of the of the year and honored the performance of individuals from each of the 16 varsity teams.
The Mighty Awards are a redesigned ceremony that replaced the annual athletic banquet of years past. The event, which was open to student-athletes, parents, coaches, and the college administration, featured an intro video to the night's festivities, and team gatherings for photos with coaches.
Throughout the evening, student-athletes, coaches, administration and parents took a look back at the 2015-16 athletic seasons through videos and slideshows, honored the Most Valuable Players and Most Improved Players from each team, and presented department-wide awards in categories which included Male and Female Athlete of the Year, and the ECAC Merit Award.
For the second straight year, the highlight of the night were the Mighty Awards, developed to recognize individual and team accomplishments such as Best Comeback Athlete, Best Moment, Best Team and Best Game. These awards were nominated by coaches and voted on by the Mount Ida College Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
This past February, the entire Mount Ida community mourned the loss of one of our own, Michael Mazza, a junior member of our football team. Mike was well known for his love of Mount Ida, being a member of the Mount Ida football family, his big personality, and being a friend to so many students, both athletes and non-athletes.
"He should not be, and I can promise you that he will never be forgotten by this community", explained Athletic Director Matt Burke.
With Mazza's legacy, Burke announced to an emotional audience of the creation of the "Michael Mazza Legacy Award". This award will be given out annually at the Mighty's to a student-athlete, coach, faculty or staff member or a member of the Mount Ida family that leaves a lasting legacy and impact on the Mustang Athletics family. This can be through their love of Mustang athletics, their dedication to our college and their sport, their commitment to serving Mount Ida or by simply being someone that our community should never forget, just like Mike.
This year's Michael Mazza Legacy Award was given to Mazza's Mom, Dad and sister as a small reminder to them of just what he, and they, mean to the Mount Ida Community.
Mount Ida men's volleyball senior Jimmy Wessel (DeKalb, Ill.) earned the Mount Ida Scholar-Athlete Award, given to the most outstanding academic achievement by a student-athlete. Wessel, a four year member of the volleyball team, amassed a 3.88 cumulative grade point average as a senior in the Criminal Justice program.
Laura DeVeau, Vice President for Student Affairs, took the stage to honor this year's Male and Female Athlete of the Year. Senior men's soccer player and captain Carlos Martinez (Chelsea, Mass.) was honored as this year's Male Athlete of the Year as he was named the GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, a 1st team All-Conference selection, and was also selected as an All New England third team member by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Martinez finished his senior year scoring 10 goals, and 28 career markers which is the most in program history.
The 2015-16 Female Athlete of the Year is junior women's basketball center Angie Martinez (Taunton, Mass.) who set the record for most rebounds in a career (919) in just her third year in a Mount Ida uniform; she has also amassed 953 career points. Martinez, led the GNAC in rebounding and finished 6th in the conference in scoring with 15.3 points per game. She was also named to the GNAC 3rd Team All-Conference.
Mount Ida alum and former women's soccer and lacrosse player, as well as Assistant to the Athletic Director, Alison Koning, took the stage to announce this year's ECAC Merit Awards.
The ECAC Merit Award was established for the purpose of honoring one male, and one female student-athlete who are members of a varsity team. They combine for excellence on the fields of competition, outstanding work in the classroom and in the community.
Koning announced the first recipient of the award to junior football offensive lineman James Wolff (Yorktown, N.Y.) who currently holds a 3.71 GPA in the Forensic Science program. Wolff is the secretary of SAAC and was a member of the ECFC All-Academic team in both 2014 and 2015; Wolff is also a member of Alpha Ki Zeta. The second recipient of the ECAC Merit Award was junior Interior Design major and ace pitcher of the softball team, Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.). Handzel was recently selected as one of only eight students to be chosen in New England to display their design work at the 2nd annual New England Design showdown in April. Handzel, an avid member of SAAC also helped organize a community service project for SAAC which drew over 100 student-athletes who gathered in the Mount Ida Athletic Center to make blankets that will be donated as part of Project Linus which helps children throughout the country in hospitals, shelters and social service agencies.
Katlyn Jesse (Marshfield, Mass.) was awarded the Sportsmanship Award fittingly by her head coach Katie Greene who is also the Assistant Athletic Director. Greene spoke on Jesse's behalf as she explained to the audience why Jesse was the recipient.
Jesse, a junior member of the women's basketball team, was recognized for her sportsmanship during a game this past season at Johnson and Wales in which she helped an injured JWU player to the sidelines after that player injured her ankle by diving to save a loose ball that was going out of bounds. After a few minutes being treated by the athletic trainer, Jesse approached the injured Wildcat player, put her arm around her and helped carry her to the home team's bench.
Minutes later, another JWU player fell to the court with another injury and once again there was Jesse helping her opponent back to her feet. The Johnson and Wales Athletic Director sent an email to Mount Ida AD Matt Burke expressing how impressed he was with Jesse's sportsmanship. Jesse was described as "A shining example of what's right with college athletics, and the embodiment of what a true competitor and sportsman should be."
For the second time in the last three years, men's soccer head coach Joe Campbell was named the Coach of the Year. After a round of applause for all head and assistant coaches, Matt Burke presented Campbell with the award. Campbell was voted the GNAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career while leading his team to the GNAC semifinals for the second straight season, the team's second ECAC bid in as many seasons and saw his team's GPA reach a 3.0 status.
SAAC President Kaitlyn Jesse (Marshfield, Mass.) and Vice President Sam Laferriere (Tewksbury, Mass.) took the stage to present the seven Mighty Awards. Members of each team of the 16 varsity sports voted on nominations for Best Individual Performance, Best Moment, Best Game, Best Record Breaking Performance, Breakthrough Athlete of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Team.
The Mighty for Best Individual Performance went to softball star pitcher Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) for throwing her second career no hitter this season against cross town rival Lasell College.
Joey DeFillippi (Bristol, Conn.), for the second straight year was awarded the Mighty for Best Moment. Another buzzer beater to beat local foe Emmanuel College, DeFillippi took an inbound pass from midcourt with seconds left and let his jumper fly from the NCAA logo on the floor while knocking down the game winner as time expired.
Men's soccer took home the Mighty for Best Game with their come from behind quarterfinal victory over arch rival Lasell in which they came from one goal down to tie the game and eventually see Martinez score the game winner in overtime.
As mentioned before, Martinez took home Male Athlete of the Year before also being recognized as being the student-athlete who had the Best Record Breaking Performance. Martinez set the record for most career goals in a career against Albertus Magnus in the GNAC semifinals in which he scored in the 63rd minute to bring his career total to 27 goals. He would go on to score his 28th career tally in the ECAC quarters against Endicott College.
The Mighty for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year went to freshman standout and women's lacrosse attack Alyssa Kelly (Lee, Mass.) who led the team with 53 goals and 22 assists.
The Comeback Athlete of the Year went to women's basketball player Breanna Muir (Wareham, Mass.) who returned to the hardwood this year after sitting out last season due to a broken femur. Muir led the Mustangs in assists per game with 3.0.
Men's soccer once again was recognized, with the final Mighty Award of the night, as the Most Outstanding Team. The Most Outstanding Team award is given to a team that combines excellent achievement on the field, the classroom, and in the community. With a team 3.0 GPA plus another outstanding year in which they won the third most games in program history as well as a 7-1-1 record in conference play, the best mark ever, all while ripping off a seven game unbeaten streak and a 9-2 home record.
The second annual Mighty Awards were a tremendous success and were enjoyed by all administration, coaches, parents and most importantly, the student-athletes. We very much look forward to seeing everyone at the 3rd annual Mighty Awards next year.