2018 Senior Honors Night: Weir, Heath, Smedberg, Watkins, Dias & Dundas Earn Major University of Southern Maine Athletic Department Awards

2018 Senior Honors Night: Weir, Heath, Smedberg, Watkins, Dias & Dundas Earn Major University of Southern Maine Athletic Department Awards

Story by Christina Cracolici, Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations

GORHAM, Maine  – The University of Southern Maine Department of Athletics recognized the achievements and contributions of its senior student-athletes Wednesday night with its 19th Annual Senior Honors Night Banquet presented by US Army ROTC, hosted at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland. Forty-nine departing student-athletes were recognized for their time and commitment to each of the Huskies' 22 NCAA Division III intercollegiate teams.  

In addition to recognizing its senior student-athletes, the USM Department of Athletics honored several of its outstanding student-athletes, student-athlete organizations and presented its major department awards: the Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award, the Roland Wirths Memorial Award, the Kimberly M. Turner Award, the Albert D. Bean, Jr. Leadership Award, and the SAAC's Student-Athlete of the Year.    

Initiated in 1993, the Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award is presented annually to the female student-athlete who exemplifies the qualities of Hodgdon, a former member of the faculty and field hockey coach who was a pioneer in women's athletics. The recipient must have played at least three years on an intercollegiate athletic team, been a valuable member of that team, and is a woman who displays loyalty, dedication and commitment to the team, the sport and USM.  The 2018 winner of the Hodgdon award is senior field hockey player Tayla Smedberg(Oxford, Maine/Oxford Hills). 

Completing her degree in Nursing this May, Smedberg has excelled academically and athletically during her career earning National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-Academic Squad honors for three years, and is a three-time Little East Conference and William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete.  Earning all-conference honors as a forward during her career, Smedberg was one of the Huskies' team captains in 2017, finishing her four years in a Southern Maine uniform with 21 goals and eight assists, including six game-winning goals. 

Awarded annually since 1980, the Roland Wirths Memorial Award is named of the former Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram sportswriter who was a strong supporter of USM athletics.  It is given to the deserving 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, or the true leader or inspirational-type player.  For just the fourth time in the award's history two student-athletes have been selected as Wirths' award winners: seniors Kyle Heath(Westbrook, Maine) of the baseball team and Neka Dias(San Antonio, Texas/Holmes) of the women's track & field and softball teams.

A two-time William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete, Heath is a Criminology major and a four-year member of the Huskies' perennially successful baseball team.  Named the 2018 captain, Heath is the first player to be named a baseball captain since the 2012 season.  A catcher, Heath has fulfilled his role in whatever capacity needed and has played in 76 career games and has a .280 career batting average. Enjoying his finest season as a senior, Heath is presently hitting .340 with 12 RBIs in 24 games played.  

An All-American in track & field, Dias joined the Huskies' softball program this spring, participating in the sport for the first time.  Used solely as a pinch runner, Dias' team-first attitude and work ethic easily demonstrate what led her to the coveted All-American status.  A member of multiple Little East Conference indoor and outdoor track and field championships, Dias earned her All-American honors in the 60m hurdles.  A William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete, Dias is completing her degree in Media Studies.  

"The nomination and presentation of the Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award and Roland Wirths Memorial Award continues to play a significant role within our department," said USM Director of Athletics Al Bean.  "These awards are coveted by faculty and staff and student-athletes eventually understand the people behind each of these awards and the significance they play within the department."

"The selection process for the special awards was extremely difficult.  All candidates have had great success in the classroom, in competition and have been tremendous citizens of the USM and surrounding communities.  I applaud all of the winners and extend the same admiration and respect to each of the superb nominees. Each nominee has given so much to the University, their teams and to so many others in the community.  It is always a great honor to see these awards given to such deserving student-athletes." 

Two new awards were presented as part of the Honors Night festivities: The Kimberly M. Turner Award, and the Albert D. Bean Jr. Leadership Award.  Juniors Romeo Watkins(Miami, Fla./Miami Killian), and wrestler Brendan Weir(Easthampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional) were the inaugural recipients of the Kimberly M. Turner Award and the Albert D. Bean Jr. Leadership award respectively.   

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 who has demonstrated the many positive characteristics and attributes that Turner displays each and every day while working with students, staff and colleagues across the University. 

"Kim is a wonderful person, a great colleague and a consummate professional.  She has outstanding administrative skills and possesses personal characteristics and qualities that are impeccable; I'm so pleased that she returned to be a part of our administrative staff," commented Bean.  "She makes a difference for students every day and is totally committed to helping them grow, develop and be successful.  In addition, her tireless work ethic and relentless pursuit of excellence is inspiring and makes everyone around her better."

Turner is in her second stint with the USM athletic department serving as the Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Women's Administrator.  She first came to USM in 1997 for an eight-year term as the Assistant Director of Athletics.  Turner returned to the Athletic Department in 2016 as the Associate Director of Athletics.

Watkins, a former member of the Huskies' men's basketball team, has been a valuable member of the Huskies' game management staff in each of his three years at Southern Maine.  Willing to undertake any task and fill in wherever needed, Watkins does so with a great attitude, professionalism, dedication and fair play. Whether retrieving foul balls during baseball and softball contests, or taking on the daunting task of calling lines at women's volleyball matches, or assisting with the Huskies' online broadcasts, Watkins is an essential component to Huskies' athletics and its ability to deliver a top-notch competition environment for student-athletes, coaches, and fans. 

The Bean Leadership Award will be presented annually to a junior or senior male student-athlete, who in his time at USM has demonstrated the leadership qualities of compassion, respect, guidance and worth ethic consistently displayed by Al Bean. A former USM student-athlete, Bean made his mark on the baseball program while serving as a starting pitcher and team leader from 1974-1977.  His service in the athletic department continued after he left the playing field.  He has served as an Assistant Baseball Coach, Sports Information Director, Assistant Athletic Director and now Director of Athletics, a position he assumed in 1993.  He was inducted into the Husky Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. 

"It is fitting that Al have such an award named in his honor.  From his time as an athlete through his current position as Athletic Director, Al has provided leadership to his teammates, staff and most importantly students," said men's basketball head coach Karl Henrikson, a member of the group that developed the criteria for the award.  "Al is a man of high character and displays that overriding quality in all his endeavors.  The foundation for success he has built and maintained throughout his career is a direct result of the dedication he has for USM, his alma mater."

A three-year member of the Huskies' wrestling team and two-year captain, Weir has helped lead Huskies' wrestling to regional and national prominence during his career with his achievements on the mat, in the classroom and his leadership. With a team-first mentality, Brendan has competed where necessary in his career to help the team and his teammates achieve their goals, and has earned New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Honorable Mention status at both 141 and 149 pounds.

Along with his teammates, Brendan helped USM earned its highest finish at the NCAA Division III Regional Championship and its first national ranking as a program. Outstanding academically, Brendan has achieved on an off the mat, earning NEWA All-Academic team honors three times, while earning NWCA Scholar All-American distinction in 2016-17.  Also a two-time William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete, Brendan was one of five wrestlers to earn All-Region honors this season, placing fourth at the Northeast Regional Championship. 

Along with the Department awards, Huskies' athletics recognized the honors that will be upon two of its student-athletes and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at the USM Student Leadership Gala later this week.  Nationally recognized for its varied community service and outreach programs, Huskies' SAAC, one of the largest student groups on campus, and its advisor women's basketball coach and lecturer Samantha Allen were recognized for their role in creating, coordinating and organizing the SAAC Kick the Stigma Kickball tournament during Mental Health Awareness month in October.  The event will be honored by USM as its Event of the Year award winner on Friday.   

Earning numerous national and university-level awards since its creation in 1996, SAAC earned the Josten's Award for Community Service from the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA) this Fall for its efforts behind hosting and organizing its Active Bystander and Peer Advocacy Training. 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 and the Annual Husky Halloween Party.   

SAAC president, senior volleyball player Mo Raymond(Sanbornton, N.H.), and vice president, junior women's basketball player Kimberly Howrigan(Fairfield, Vt./Bellows Free Academy) were recognized for being named the University's Senior Husky Achievement Award winner, and the University's Outstanding Community Service Individual.  Earning the Husky Senior Achievement Award, Raymond is completing her degree in Nursing. An active member in SAAC all four years of her athletic eligibility, Raymond has been instrumental in aiding the administration of all of SAACs events, and meetings, and has spearheaded the student groups increased participation in legislative discussions with regards to the student-athlete experience. A four-year member of the volleyball team, Raymond is a two-time William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete and a two-time LEC All-Academic team selection.  

A three-year member of the Huskies' women's basketball team, Howrigan has quickly developed into an emerging leader on campus organizing and planning her peer student-athletes into action for SAAC's numerous community service activities, including the Husky Halloween Party, caroling at local retirement communities, and elementary schools.  Majoring in accounting, Howrigan is a two-time William B. Wise Scholar Athlete and LEC All-Academic selection.

Earning the inaugural SAAC Student-Athlete of the Year award was senior three-sport athlete Tristan Dundas (Abbotsford, B.C./Sardis).  A member of the Huskies' golf, ice hockey and lacrosse teams, Dundas is a General Management major. The Student-Athlete of the Year Award criteria is created by student-athletes for student-athletes to honor an individual who has distinguished themselves throughout the current academic year in the areas of academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership. Voted upon by his peers to earn the honor, Dundas received All-GNAC honors for golf this fall, and just one day ago scored the game-winning goal in the Huskies' men's lacrosse playoff game. 


Past Paula D. Hodgdon Leadership Award Winners


Melissa Emery, Field Hockey


Rhonda Benner, Women's Track/Cross Country


Lori Towle, Women's Basketball


Mandy King, Women's Basketball


 Heather Gilmour, Field Hockey


 Alison Drury, Field Hockey


 Michelle Cloutier, Softball


 Rachel Drury, Soccer


Tina West, Women's Soccer and Softball


Libby, Women's Basketball


Deedra Boudreau, Field Hockey and Women's Lacrosse


Meg Cressler, Women's Basketball


 Kim Brewer, Women's Track and Field


Katie Frost, Women's Basketball


Stacey LeBlanc, Women's Soccer


Lindsey Welch, Women's Basketball


Shannon Kynoch, Women's Basketball and Women's Lacrosse


Brandi Alton, Field Hockey


Mary Vaughan, Women's Ice Hockey and Women's Lacrosse


Sarah Deroche, Softball


Courtney Cochran, Women's Basketball


Nicole Garland, Women's Basketball


Stefanie Stockwell, Softball, Women's Soccer and Women's Track and Field


Peyton Dostie, Field Hockey, Women's Track and Field


Demi Ruder, Volleyball


Mary Caron, Softball


Lauren Lessard, Women's Lacrosse


Tayla Smedberg, Field Hockey


Roland Wirths Memorial Award Past Winners


Steve DeBree, Soccer and Men's Basketball


John Jordan, Men's Basketball


 Mike Stockwell, Physician


Joe Doane, Men's Basketball


 Greg Jordan, Statistician


Maureen Burchill, Women's Basketball


 Brad Wise, Soccer and Baseball


 Peter Story, Men's Basketball


 Doug Ouellette, Baseball


Jeff Bowers, Men's Basketball


 Pat Moody, Men's Basketball


Bonny Brown, Field Hockey and Softball


Jim Broughton, Baseball


Richard York, Baseball


Robert LaPrise, Men's Basketball


Jeff Ireland, Soccer


Jamie Wood, Women's Basketball


Ken Reed, Baseball


Mandy King, Women's Basketball


Michael Ellerbrook, Men's Basketball


Penny Osborne, Women's Cross Country


Andy Higgins, Men's Soccer


Kevin Faria, Men's Track and Field


 Niki Dominiczak, Women's Basketball


Jason Tuck, Men's Cross Country/Track and Field


Greg Dolbec, Men's Cross Country/Track and Field


Jay Casterella, Men's Basketball


Jon Lounsbury, Men's Ice Hockey


Mike Bunker, Men's Cross Country/Track and Field


Donna Cowing, Women's Basketball


Mark Carragher, Men's Ice Hockey


Adam Ross, Baseball


Megan Irving, Women's Ice Hockey


Justin Richardson, Men's Cross Country/Track and Field


Jennifer Masessa, Field Hockey


Jeremy Jackson, Men's Basketball


 Mike Poulin, Men's Basketball


Stephanie Gallagher, Women's Basketball


Nate Veilleux, Baseball


Andrew Richards, Baseball


Ryan Browner, Baseball


Dan Del Gallo, Wrestling


Kyle Heath, Baseball

Neka Dias, Women's Cross Country, Indoor Track & Field, Outdoor Track & Field, Softball


Kimberly M. Turner Award


Romeo Watkins




Albert D. Bean, Jr. Leadership Award


Brendan Weir, Wrestling




SAAC Student-Athlete of the Year Award (voted upon by current student-athletes)


Tristan Dundas, Golf, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse