DANBURY, CT - Western Connecticut State University honored several student-athletes at its 17th annual Athletics Awards Banquet at the William A. O'Neill Athletic and Convocation Center on Tuesday evening.
Nearly 500 students and their parents, coaches, administrators and faculty and staff members attended the gala event to celebrate the collegiate careers on nearly 60 seniors. Several major award winners were honored with beautiful oak plagues, designed by Crown Trophy of Brookfield, CT.
Below are the major award winners as well as a group of juniors and seniors which will be the first inductees into Chi Alpha Sigma, which recognizes college students who receive a varsity letter in their sport while maintaining a 3.40 or higher grade-point average throughout their junior and/or senior years.
COLONIAL OF THE YEAR - CAROLE ALLERS
Two years ago, Carole Allers enrolled at WestConn. A woman in her 40's, a mother of three, studying sports psychology and with a passion for competition.
In her first season, she earned All-Little East Conference honors in singles and doubles competition and gained instant respect of her coaches, teammates and also from her opponents.
This past fall, once again, Carole earned All-LEC honors for her singles and doubles play. She and her playing partner, Emma Chapman, lost only one match in doubles, going 12-1 for the season.
Opposing coaches would shake their head in disbelief upon learning Carole's age, while watching her have her way with her opponents, out-hitting, out-hustling and out-smarting them.
Carole is the captain of the team, but she's also a mentor, a role model, a fellow sister to her teammates, and a team mom. She embraces each role willingly and confidently. Carole is a volunteer member of SAAC and contributes in making the experience of being a student-athlete here at WestConn the best it can be.
Additionally, during the fall, if you don't see Carole competing on the tennis courts representing WestConn, then you will see her and her husband, Andrew, sitting in the stands at the WestConn soccer field cheering on their sons, Chauncey and Harrison.
Speaking of soccer, Carole is one of the highest rated soccer officials in the nation, during her "free" time.
Carole's accomplishments and contributions to women's tennis, as well as to our university embodies what this award represents.
Congratulations to Carole Allers, tennis star, team captain, team mom, soccer mom and this year's winner of the prestigious Colonial of the Year award.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR - AUTUMN SORICE
Autumn Sorice is a senior from Bethel, CT and is a Communication major. She was a unanimous selection for Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.
This past fall, she was selected for the most accolades she has ever won in a single season.
Autumn scored 16 goals in the fall and assisted nine in a 21 games, which put her second in career points and goals in WCSU Women's Soccer history with 143 points and 56 goals.
She was awarded Little East Conference Player of the Year for the third straight year and she also received First-Team United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III Women's All-New England. For the first time in her stellar career, she was named a Second-Team NCAA Division III Women's All-American.
Recently, Autumn was named, for first time in school history, the Female Athlete of the Year by Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance.
This past fall, she earned sixteen credits with a semester grade point average of 3.73.
She helped lead the team to a 17-2-2 record and a 6-0-1 conference record. Once again, Autumn helped the team to the Little East Co-Regular-Season and Tournament Championships and guided WestConn to its 13th appearance in the NCAA National Women's Soccer Tournament, this year against Middlebury in the first round at MIT.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR - SHANE BIERFELDT
Shane Bierfeldt, a senior from Torrington, CT, has been named Male Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.
He has been a four-year starter for the men's soccer program and returned to the mound for our baseball team after a shortened season last spring due to an arm injury
On the pitch, he was a two-year captain and helped lead his team to the Little East Conference regular-season and tournament championships and ultimately the program's ninth NCAA Tournament appearance.
Shane was a First-Team All-LEC selection and named the LEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
This past fall, he was named to the 2017 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III Men's All-New England Third Team and was selected to play in the 2017 New England Intercollegiate Soccer League All Star game at Brandeis University.
This spring, he went into the baseball season as Head Coach Johnny Susi's projected ace of the pitching staff. He went 3-3 with a 4.95 ERA and struck out a team-high 42 batters in 36 and 1/3 innings.
Bierfeldt is a Business Administration major.
MALE AND FEMALE SCHOLAR ATHLETES - JOHN WARD AND ERICA BOWER
The 2018 male winner is John Ward, from the men's lacrosse team.
John is a sophomore midfielder and a Finance major with a 3.84 cumulative grade-point average.
In 14 games this past spring, John scored 13 goals and assisted on five others, collected seven ground balls and took 52 shots.
He was named Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Week once this season.
John is the ideal definition of a student-athlete. On the field he is a great teammate and leader. Off the field his dedication in the classroom has earned him the highest GPA on the team and in the athletic department.
John currently holds a 3.84 GPA and is a Finance Major. This fall John secured an internship with Alumni Relations Department where he has helped forge relationships with past WestConn Lacrosse Alumni.
In the community John has helped spearhead several programs that directly affect our Danbury Community. John organized the Men's Lacrosse Trick or Can campaign, where on Halloween the Men's Lacrosse team went door to door to collect hundreds of canned goods for the Interfaith Aids Ministry.
John also helped organize the Festival of Tree's fundraising event sponsored by Ann's Place which provides services comfort, support, and resources to people living with cancer and their loved ones in greater Danbury Area.
John also took part in the Western Day of Service and the Field of Flags.
John has and continues to put the necessary work in to help build our lacrosse program into the national spotlight. His leadership continues to help turn the culture of the team in the right direction. John has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches through his hard work and drive to push himself on the field and in the classroom
The female winner was senior softball player Erica Bower.
Erica is a Meteorology major and completed 41 total credits this past academic year. She came into the spring with a 3.97 grade-point average.
She is the SAAC Co-President, a member of the Honors Program and Honors Students of Compassion Club Treasurer.
Erica is a Science National Honor Society faculty advisor and the Science department coordinator at Ethan Allen Preparatory School at the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield.
She is a Math Clinic tutor as well as a private tutor, a member of the Meteorology Club and National Society of Leadership and Success.
Her volunteer work includes being the Immaculata High School Pink Out coordinator and countless hours at the Steeplechase Cancer Center.
Erica is a Dean's Circle representative for the departments of Physics, Astronomy, and Meteorology.
This summer, she will intern for the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma research fellowship intern, at WTNH News 8 in New Haven and is a WCSU Severe Weather Researcher.
This year's male nominees were: Adam Wilson (Baseball), Michael D'Arcy (Soccer), John Ward (Lacrosse) and Aaron Campos (Tennis)
The female nominees were: Jenna Pisano (Volleyball), Shannon Lynch (Field Hockey), Jancy Sherwood (Basketball), Andrea Devoe (Soccer), Erica Bower (Softball), Rachel Peet (Swimming and Diving), Lauren Bradshaw (Lacrosse) and Carol Allers (Tennis).
FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - FRANCES SNYDER
Frances Snyder, a freshman from Pine Plains, NY and Stissing Mountain High School, finished third on the women's basketball team with a 9.3 scoring average. She buried 45 three-pointers and 70% of her free-throw attempts. She also averaged 1.2 assists and 1.3 steals a game in her first collegiate campaign.
Frankie was named to the Little East Conference All-Rookie Team, which is voted on by the league head coaches.
Coach Kimberley Rybczyk stated that in a close game, I put the ball in her hands to make something happen.
MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Perry Cassidy is a product of Ward Melville High School.
He came to Western Connecticut after leading his high school team to a Class A New York State Championship.
As a freshmen, Perry started all 15 games in the cage for the Men's Lacrosse program.
He finished third in the conference in total saves, third in save percentage and second in the conference with the lowest goals-against average.
Perry also finished the 2018 season second in the league in total minutes played.
Out of the 242 Division III men's lacrosse programs around the nation, Perry was ranked 84th in the country for saves per game and 75th for save percentage.
HIGHEST TEAM GRADE-POINT AVERAGE AWARD - WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
The Colonials' women's basketball team were honored as the program with the highest cumulative grade-point average, for the second straight year. Head Coach Kimberley Rybczyk's team posted a 3.41 team GPA. The field hockey program, headed by Dani McDonnell followed closely behind with a 3.34 GPA while the women's soccer team, under the guidance of head coach Alex Harrison, clocked in with a 3.21 grade-point average.
CHI ALPHA SIGMA