NEWTON, Mass. – Yesterday, the Mount Ida College athletic department closed the 2016-17 seasons with the third 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.
Throughout the evening, student-athletes, coaches, administration and parents took a look back at the 2016-17 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 Mustang Merit Award.
The highlight of the night was 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).
SAAC President Mary Kate Reidy (Agawam, Mass.) and Vice President Lauren Liscio (Wilmington, 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 women's lacrosse sophomore Alyssa Kelly (Lee, Mass.). Kelly tied a program record with 12 points on 8 goals and 4 assists in a conference win over Albertus Magnus.
The Best Moment of the year remembered football senior day, when Mount Ida President Barry Brown announced the formation of the Mike Mazza scholarship, in memory of Mike, a football offensive lineman who passed away during his junior year last spring.
Men's basketball took home the Mighty for Best Game with their GNAC quarterfinals victory over Saint Joseph's Maine. They earned the first postseason win in program history and advanced to the men's basketball semifinals.
Best Record Breaking Performance went to Angelique Martinez (Taunton, Mass.), who became the all-time leading rebounder in GNAC women's basketball history.
The Mighty for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year went to sophomore equestrian rider Abby Brand (New Boston, N.H.), who won her discipline at Regional championships and placed fifth at Zone Finals, coming up just shy of a spot in the national competition.
The Comeback Athlete of the Year went to women's basketball player Imani Bumpus (W. Hartford, Conn.) who returned from a knee injury to play in 22 games and make ten starts for Mount Ida.
This year's Outstanding Team was women's lacrosse, who are in the midst of their best season in program history. The Mustangs ran off a seven-game winning streak, and have clinched the #4 seed in the GNAC tournament, hosting the first home playoff game ever.
Members of the Mount Ida administration gave out the night's biggest awards, including Sportsmanship Awards, Mustang Merit Awards, Scholar Athlete, Male and Female Athlete of the Year, and the Mike Mazza Legacy Award.
The sportsmanship award, expanded this year to recognize one male and one female senior student-athlete, was presented to Molly Alkinburg (Port Deposit, Md.) and Corey Eugster (Upton, Mass.). Alkinburg, a four year member of both the women's basketball and women's volleyball teams, has served as both a starter and a reserve in her career, and has always kept a positive attitude.
Eugster has battled through injuries throughout his entire career, but has never given up on the men's lacrosse team and has worked tirelessly to be able to compete on the field in his senior season.
Scholar Athlete awards went to Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.), who had a 3.88 grade point average while being one of the most dominant pitchers in Mount Ida softball history, and Ryan Burch (Greenwich, N.Y.), who is an exemplary student and a leader on campus, adding men's cross country MVP to his trophy case this season.
The newly named "Mustang Merit" awards went to men's soccer senior JT Yager and women's volleyball junior Mary Kate Reidy. Yager is an active member of DECA, the business club on campus, while Reidy is set to take over as SAAC President this coming year.
Kelly was named Female Athlete of the Year, having broken the 100 goal mark in just her sophomore season, and coming close to putting up 100 points in just this year, ranking her in the top ten in the nation in scoring.
Male Athlete of the Year went to men's basketball player Jayson Clark (Austin, Texas). Clark was named GNAC Men's Basketball Defensive Player of the Year and Third Team All-Conference, and was nationally ranked in both steals and assists, in which he led the conference.
Finally, the Mike Mazza Legacy Award went to Luke Bibber (Kennebunkport, Maine). Luke, one of Mike's best friends on campus, played this past year of football in honor of his friend, and Head Coach Mike Landers spoke movingly about Luke's sacrifices and contributions to Mike's memory.