GORHAM, Maine – Seventy senior student-athletes will be recognized by the University of Southern Maine Department of Athletics for their significant contributions and outstanding playing careers as members of the Huskies' 22 NCAA Division III intercollegiate teams Sunday, April 30 at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, Maine. This annual event brings together USM Athletics' staff, the departing members of the student-athlete community and their families in celebration of in the unique achievement of successfully completing their challenging and rewarding careers as a University of Southern Maine student-athlete.
"As a University we are very proud of our student-athletes, and their tremendous success in competition and in the classroom," said long-time Director of Athletics Al Bean. "Student-Athletes at the University of Southern Maine are known and recognized for their integrity and achievement in the playing arena, their valuable contributions to our campus communities and beyond, and their outstanding academic success. Our Honors Night celebration is one of my favorite events to attend. This great tradition allows us to thank our student-athletes for their time, hard-work, and commitment as Husky student-athletes, and for representing the University with distinction."
As part of the evening's celebration, student-athletes, friends and family along with members of the Athletic Department and University administration will enjoy a dinner put on by the Italian Heritage Center catering services, and departing seniors will receive a commemorative plaque featuring an action photo from their playing career. Wishing to extend their thanks and gratitude, University President Glenn Cummings, and Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Nancy Griffin will be on hand as guest speakers.
During the evening, Huskies' Athletics will also recognize several student-athletes for their outstanding academic, athletic and community service contributions, and will announce the recipients of this year's department awards: the Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award and the Roland Wirths Memorial Award.
Senior Daniel Del Gallo (Gardiner, Maine), USM's first wrestling national champion, will be presented with his National Championship ring, while seniors Molly Gibeault (Brooklyn, Conn./Woodstock Academy) and Neka Dias (San Antonio, Texas) will be honored for becoming the Huskies' third and fourth women's NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field All-Americans.
The winners of the Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award and the Roland Wirths Memorial Award will also be announced during the evening. The Hodgdon Leadership Award is presented annually to the female student-athlete who exemplifies the qualities of the former USM Field Hockey Coach/faculty member who was a pioneer in women's athletics: the recipient is a valuable member to their team, displays loyalty, leadership, dedication, and commitment. The 2017 Hodgdon Leadership Award nominees are seniors Mary Caron (Lewiston, Maine/St. Dominic's Academy) of the softball team, Michaela Demers (Manchester, N.H./Manchester Memorial) and Amanda Kasbohm (York, Maine) of the field hockey team, Lauren Lessard (Lewiston, Maine/Kents Hill) of the lacrosse team, and Hana McNally (Burlington City, N.J./Holy Cross) of the soccer team.
The Wirths Award has been presented annually since 1980 in honor of the former Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram sportswriter who was a strong supporter of USM Athletics. The award is given to a student-athlete who best exemplifies the characteristics of Wirths and his writing. Wirths often wrote about the overachiever, the person small in stature who made a big difference. He was interested in stories of the heart, people who made a real difference, and the inspirational leader. The 2017 Wirths' nominees are Matt Bender (Walpole, Mass.) of the baseball team, Roger Charest (Auburn, Maine/Edward Little) of the cross country and track & field teams, Samantha Crosman (South Berwick, Maine/Marshwood) of the field hockey and softball teams, Daniel Del Gallo (Gardiner, Maine) of the wrestling team, Fred Knight (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) of basketball, Lauren Lessard (Lewiston, Maine/Kents Hill) of the lacrosse team, and Leanne Reichert (Portland, Maine) of the field hockey team.
Wirths' nominee Fred Knight and Hodgdon nominee Mary Caron will both speak on behalf of USM student-athletes during the event. Knight, who is earning his diploma this Spring with a double major in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, is a four-year member of the Huskies' men's basketball program. Recently hired by General Dynamics Missions Systems, Knight is a two-time William B. Wise Scholar Athlete, and was one of USM's men's basketball captains for the 2016-17 season.
Caron, who earned her undergraduate degree in Human Biology with a minor in Biochemistry, is presently a USM graduate student pursuing her Master's in Public Health. In addition to her role as the Huskies' starting shortstop, Caron is a teaching assistant for the Intro to Public Health class, and is the Graduate Assistant for the Master's in Public Health program chair. One of the Huskies' 2017 captains, Caron is a two-time William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete and volunteers with a local 4H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program in a local fifth grade classroom.
Women's basketball coach and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Advisor Samantha Allen will recognize Lauren Lessard, who will be presented with a University Leadership Award in May at the USM Student Leadership Awards Gala. Lessard, one of the USM SAAC officers and a four-year member of the women's lacrosse team, was recently chosen for the Senior Husky Achievement Award. An Exercise Science major with a concentration in Health Fitness, Lessard is a Dean's List student, and has served as a chemistry tutor and is the Exercise Science Student Association Secretary. An All-LEC selection, Lessard is one of the team's captains and is Vice President of SAAC. In her role with USM's SAAC, Lessard was the driving force behind the growth of USM's Special Olympics Partnership.
As a student-group, USM's SAAC, will also be honored at the USM Student Leadership Awards Gala with the University's Contribution to Community Service Award. A student-led organization that is comprised of members of Southern Maine's 22 intercollegiate teams, USM SAAC is nationally recognized for its on-going and one-time community service projects and events. Earning numerous awards since its creation in 1996, beginning with the USM's Outstanding Student Organization Award and the Josten's NADIIAA Community Service Merit Award, 2017 marks the second consecutive year that SAAC has earned the Contribution to Community Service Award. Throughout the academic year, SAAC has planned, hosted and participated in numerous community related events, including the creation of a Unified Sports Program partnership with Special Olympics Maine, the Annual Husky Halloween Party, and sponsoring an Active Bystander Peer Education program during Mental Health Awareness month.
Additionally, USM Athletics will present Roger Plant with the David F. Drew Service Award. Presented on a case-by-case basis, the Drew Service Award is presented by the Department of Athletics to a person who distinguishes themselves with volunteer service to the athletic department. David Drew, known as Dusty by those familiar with Husky athletics, gave of himself for the betterment of USM student-athletes and the Athletic Department, chipping in no matter what needed to be done.
"Dusty was a total team player, and never looked for personal recognition for any of his many contributions," said Bean. "To me, Roger, is exactly the same way. He has worked with us and volunteered his time for countless years and is a rock of dependability. He has served as an assistant coach, scorekeeper, public address announcer, shot clock operator, contractor, groundskeeper and more. If you need help, Roger is one of the people you call. I'm both excited and pleased that Roger will receive this very deserved award and recognition this Sunday."
The 2017 USM Athletics Honors Night promises to be an event celebrating all of the accomplishments of Husky student-athletes while recognizing the conclusion of many outstanding academic and athletic careers of 70 of USM's nearly 500 student-athletes (248 female and 247 male student-athletes) who participate in one or more of the University's 22 Division III intercollegiate teams.
Huskies' athletics proudly embraces the NCAA Division III philosophy and places the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students' academic programs, maintaining an environment in which a student-athlete's athletic activities are conducted as an integral part of the student-athlete's educational experience. USM Athletics achieves this through the five key developmental areas: Academic Achievement, Athletic Performance, Personal Development, Career Development and Service to Community. Forty-four different majors are represented by the Huskies' approximately 500 student-athletes, with General Management (44), Athletic Training (32), Exercise Physiology (31), Criminology (25), Nursing (24), Sport Management (21), Biology (21), Health Science (20), Mechanical Engineering (13), Finance (12), Exercise Science (12), and Marketing (11) being the favorites. However, USM student-athlete pursuits range from Theatre to Social Behavioral Sciences, to Physics and Liberal Studies. Collectively, the Huskies' student-athletes have an outstanding 2.94 grade point average and record 183 student-athletes were recognized this past fall as William B. Wise Scholar-Athletes. Each of the Huskies' 22 intercollegiate programs has representation among the 183 student-athletes that were honored. Through the first semester of the 2016-2017 academic year 232 Husky student-athletes earned a 3.0 grade point average, or higher, showing promise for another record breaking William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete induction next fall.