Story by Christina Cracolici, Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations
GORHAM, Maine – The University of Southern Maine Department of Athletics will recognize its 49 senior student-athletes for their significant contributions, academic achievements and outstanding playing careers as members of the Huskies' 22 NCAA Division III intercollegiate teams Wednesday, May 2 at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, Maine with its 19th Annual Senior Honors Night presented by U.S. Army ROTC. This annual event brings together USM Athletics staff, the departing members of the student-athlete community, their teammates and families in celebration of the tremendous achievement of successfully completing their challenging and rewarding careers as student-athletes at the University of Southern Maine.
"Our student-athletes' success in the competitive arena, in the classroom and in their community service efforts gives the University and the Department of Athletics many reasons to be proud," said long-time Director of Athletics Al Bean. "Student-Athletes at Southern Maine are known and recognized for their integrity, their outstanding academic success, fair play, valuable contributions to our campus and surrounding communities and of course their winning ways. Our Senior 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, commitment, 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 provided by the Italian Heritage Center catering services sponsored by MacPage, and departing seniors will receive a commemorative plaque featuring an action photo from their playing career sponsored by Norway Savings Bank. Wishing to extend her thanks and gratitude on behalf of USM, University Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs Nancy Griffin will be on hand as a guest speaker.
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, the Roland Wirths Memorial Award, the Kimberly M. Turner Award, and the Albert D. Bean, Jr. Leadership Award.
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 2018 Hodgdon Leadership Award nominees are junior Kimberly Howrigan(Fairfield, Vt./Belllows Free Academy) and senior Miranda Nicely(Farmington, Maine/Mt. Blue) of the women's basketball team, senior Tiia Kand(Abbott, Maine/Piscataquis Community) of the women's cross country and track & field teams, senior Amber Kelly(Berwick, Maine/Noble) of the softball team, senior Hana McNally(Burlington City, N.J./Holy Cross) of the women's soccer team, seniors Mo Raymond(Sanbornton, N.H./Winnisquam) and Jessica Williamson(Goffstown, N.H.) of the volleyball team, and Tayla Smedberg(Oxford, Maine/Oxford Hills) of the field hockey team.
Presented annually since 1980, the Wirths Award is named 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 2018 Wirths' nominees are Williamson and senior Mariah Garcia(Brighton, Colo./Central) of the volleyball team, Nicely of the women's basketball team, senior Christian McCue(Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) of the men's basketball team, senior Lindsay Jackson(Readfield, Maine/Maranacook) of the field hockey team, junior Nathan Cook(Lewiston, Maine) of the men's soccer team, senior Trey Rogers(Auburn, Maine/Edward Little) of the men's cross country and track & field teams, senior Neka Dias(San Antonia, Texas/Holmes) of the women's cross country, track & field and softball teams, and senior Kyle Heath(Westbrook, Maine) of the baseball team.
Two new awards will be presented during the evening: the Kimberly M. Turner Award and the Albert D. Bean, Jr. Leadership Award. The Bean Leadership award will be presented annually to the junior or senior male student-athletes who demonstrate the leadership qualities of compassion, respect, guidance, and worth ethic displayed by Al Bean. Inaugural nominees for the Bean Award are junior Jake Dexter(Sidney, Maine/Messalonskee) and Heath of the baseball team, senior Qutaiba Hassoon(Portland, Maine/Deering) of the men's soccer team, junior Jared Marshall(Gloucester, Mass.) of the men's cross country and track & field teams, seniorCam Scott (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) of the men's basketball team, and junior Brendan Weir(Easthampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional) of the wrestling team.
The Turner Award will be given annually to a student-employee or volunteer who has consistently made significant contributions to the USM Athletic Department and has demonstrated the many positive traits synonymous with Turner: work ethic, leadership, extraordinary commitment, respect, attention to detail, and compassion. Inaugural nominees for the Turner Award are Brooke Cross(Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy of the softball team; Dexter, Garcia, Raymond, Julia Greeley(Walpole, Mass.), Lindsay Scribner(Bluepoint, N.Y.), Brianna Johnston(Windham, Maine), Romeo Watkins(Miami, Fla./Miami Killian Senior) and Michelle Hargreaves(Rockfall, Conn./Conginchaug Regional). These student-employees work in all areas of athletics from Media Relations, Game Management, Front Desk, Learning Center Study Table Monitors to Athletic Team Managers, and they are critical to the success of Huskies' athletics and its teams.
Student-athletes John Waghorne(Wheaton, Ill.) of the men's ice hockey team and Hodgdon and Wirth nominee Jessica Williamson of the volleyball team will both speak on behalf of their peers during the event. A three-time William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete, Waghorne was one of the Huskies' assistant captains and will earn his degree in Finance after a successful four-year career as a member of the Huskies' men's ice hockey team. Williamson, the 2017 Little East Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is a three-time all-conference selection, and is the only player in school history to compile 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in their career. Majoring in Biology, Williamson is a three-time William B. Wise Scholar Athlete.
Women's basketball coach and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Advisor Samantha Allen will recognize Mo Raymond, who will be presented with a University Leadership Award in May at the USM Student Leadership Awards Gala. Raymond, the USM SAAC president and a four-year member of the women's volleyball team, was recently chosen for the Senior Husky Achievement Award. Allen will also recognize Kimberly Howrigan, who will be honored with the University's Outstanding Community Service Individual. Howrigan recently completed her third season with the Huskies' women's basketball team, and is the Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
As a student-group, USM's SAAC, will also be honored at the USM Student Leadership Awards Gala with its Outstanding Event award for its Kick the Stigma kickball tournament. 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 NADIIIAA Community Service Merit Award, 2018 marked the 16th time that the student-group was honored with the NADIIIAA Community Service award for its Active Bystander and Peer Advocacy Training presentation. Throughout the academic year, SAAC has planned, hosted and participated in numerous community related events, including its Unified Sports Program partnership with Special Olympics Maine, the Annual Husky Halloween Party, and sponsoring its award-winning Kick The Stigma event during Mental Health Awareness month.
The 2018 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 49 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 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 177 student-athletes were recognized this past fall as William B. Wise Scholar-Athletes. Each of the Huskies' 22 intercollegiate programs has representation among the 177 student-athletes that were honored.