The Erie Community College Athletics Department held its annual awards evening at South Campus May 10 with the top male and female athlete of the year awards (Lawrence Spring Award) recipients being Tarik Johnson and Abbey Lombard, respectively. In addition, the most valuable athletes from each sports were also recognized.
Johnson shared the football MVP as its top offensive player with top defensive player Christian Cheatom. Women's soccer MVP was Kallie Smith, while men's soccer MVP (Larry Katzman Award) was Aaron Crane. Volleyball MVP was Karly Kurkowiak, while cheerleading MVP was Kylie Homberger. The men's and women's bowling MVPs (Kerm Helmer Awards) were Dan Streer and Abigail Smith, respectively. The men's basketball MVP (Richard R. Dry Award) was Bri'an Brown, while the women's basketball MVP (Helen DiPota Award) was Aaron Shabazz. Hockey's MVP (Ralph J. Galanti, Jr Award) was SUNY Chancelor Scholar Athlete winner Michael Krause. The men's and women's swimming and diving team MVPs were Brad Zifra and Allie DeBiase, respectively. For the women's spring sports, Chelsea Davis took the softball MVP, while Courtney Guzda was awarded the lacrosse MVP.
The Kats also recognized administrative and community individuals, as well as other students for their achievements. Appreciation awards were presented to Mike Pietkiewicz, ECC Executive Vice President of Operations, and Bill Reuter, ECC Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance. The George Killian Award was presented to Charles Giglia of the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission.
The Galanti Awards (Ralph Sr. and Grace) were presented to Brian Losel (hockey) and Kalee Martin (volleyball), respectively. The Helmer Scholarship went to Amy Feldman, while the Cornell Award was presented to Hannah Olds.
Eight ECC NJCAA All-Americans were also recognized and included: Johnson, Lombard, Cheatom, Krause, Streer, John Pope, Alex Suchan and hockey's Region III Player-of-the-Year Anthony Cybulski.
Region III honored 22 Kats to various teams. At the All-Region level the women's soccer team and hockey team combined for 10 of the 22 awards with five apiece. The national runner-up women's soccer team's all-region players include: Lombard, Carissa Perkins, Kallie Smith, Chrissy Alonge and Brea Borynski. The national runner-up hockey team's all-region players were Suchan, Krause, Cybulski, Joshua Dake and Ryan Piniewski, with the latter selected only to the All-Rookie team.
Of the remaining dozen all-region selections, the women's swimming and diving team had the most with three that included: Tabby Smith, DeBiase and Jessica Raymond. Four other Kat teams had a pair of selections each. The men's soccer team's all-region players were Maj Mohamed and Colin O'Keefe. The women's volleyball team's all-region players were Lynn Cleversley and Martin. The men's basketball team's all-region players were Brown and Jonathan Pozo. The women's basketball team's all-region players were Chmicka Kennedy and Shabazz. Completing the all-region list for the fall and winter sports was Zifra from the men's swimming and diving team.
In addition, up to Week 33 (first week of May) the Kats had a region athlete of the week 21 times, as well as five national player-of-the-week selections (26 overall). Of the 19 Region III college teams that had at least one player selected as a region top athlete over the 2016-17 season, Erie led all schools in both male and female selections, as well as having the most overall.
Ten Kat teams were represented 26 times overall in player-of-the-week or athlete-of-the-week honors. One the national level, Lombard was chosen three separate times, while her teammate Alex Zentz received national accolades once. Football's Pope also was also selected by the NJCAA as a national player-of-the week recipient.
To demonstrate how fierce competition for region athlete of the week really was, consider that Lombard was a national winner three times, but could only crack the region's top athlete of the week recognition only once. Below is a chronological list of all ECC NJCAA Region Athletes of the Week for 2016-17 with the week number selected in parenthesis, followed by the student-athlete's respective sport he or she competed in: Jon Saeli (1- Men's Soccer), Brandon Horton (4-Men's Soccer), Jamilah McBryde (6-Women's Soccer), Pope (7-Football), Terrel Bolden (8-Football), Martin (8-Volleyball), Sam Castronova (9-Football), Horton (10-Men's Soccer), Lombard (10-Women's Soccer), Castronova (11-Football), Cybulski (12-Hockey), Hannah Clarkson (12-Women's Soccer), Brendan McFall (13-Hockey), McFall (14-Hockey), Dake (16-Hockey), DeBiase (17-Women's Swimming & Diving), Jessica Raymond (22-Women's Swimming & Diving), Streer (25-Men's Bowling), Guzda (31-Women's Lacrosse), Julia Swanson (32-Softball), Ken Ruggiero (33-Baseball).