NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack College celebrated another sensational academic and athletic year on Wednesday night, as the College and Athletic Department announced their annual award winners at the 2015 Leadership, Education, Athletic and Development (LEAD) Awards held at Cascia Hall on campus.
One of the many highlights of the night came in the form of the honoring of Merrimack’s Team IMPACT members who were in attendance. Merrimack has 10 partnerships through Team IMPACT, the most of any single college or university nationwide, and nearly all were on hand to accept gifts from their teams as a special “thank you” for their dedication to being a Warrior over the past year and beyond.
Various members of the College administration and the Athletic Department were on hand to announce the Department’s annual awards: Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Male and Female Rafferty Award; Male and Female Rookie of the Year, in addition to others.
Female Athlete of the Year: Carly Muscaro (Women’s Track & Field)
In only two years, Carly Muscaro has become one of the best stories on campus. She arrived when the track & field team was just in its third season and instantly rose to national prominence.
This year, during the indoor season, she was the national runner-up in the 400-meter dash and won the same event at the conference championships, while competing against Olympians at the USA Indoor Championships in February. This spring, she has already qualified for outdoor nationals, where she’ll look to become the first-ever national champion in program history later on in May.
Male Athlete of the Year: Jose Silva (Men’s Soccer)
Jose Silva led the Merrimack men’s soccer team to the East Region Final of the NCAA Tournament, the furthest the program has ever gone in the postseason. The Northeast-10 Goalkeeper of the Year for the third consecutive season, Silva was named an All-American for the second time in his career, to go along with all-region and all-conference selections. Silva finished the season with program records for shutouts and goals against average, and is second in career victories.
Rafferty Award Winner: Vince Bellino (Men’s Tennis); Ali Reed (Women’s Golf)
David A. Rafferty III Memorial Award Awarded to a graduating senior in recognition of athletic and academic achievement, and leadership within the College community. A plaque will be presented at the Honors Convocation.
Vince Bellino of the men’s tennis team has maintained a 3.97 cumulative GPA at Merrimack as finance major and a political philosophy minor. This past season, the senior went 17-2 in Northeast-10 matches as the captain of the Warriors. Bellino guided Merrimack to their fifth straight regular-season title, their third conference tournament title in the past four years and eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. He is active all across the campus community, including involvement in the College Mentoring Program and the Beacon.
One of the first four-year members of the women’s golf team, Ali Reed has been one of the most consistent student-athletes on the links and in the classroom since arriving on campus. She has participated in every tournament this season and averages one of the lowest scores per round on the team, leading the Warriors to the first-ever Northeast-10 Championship. Furthermore, her cumulative GPA of 3.916 is one of the highest among all Merrimack student-athletes.
Male Rookie of the Year: Brett Seney (Men’s Ice Hockey)
Brett Seney broke on to the scene with a phenomenal freshman season in which he led the men’s ice hockey team in scoring. He was named Hockey East Rookie of the Week once, and was among the league’s leaders in game-winning goals and freshman scoring. Leading Merrimack to twice as many wins as a year ago, he ranked 14th nationally in points per game among rookies. He scored some dramatic goals at home, including the tying goal with less than a minute left on Homecoming Weekend.
Female Rookie of the Year: Taylor Simpson (Field Hockey)
Taylor Simpson was one of several young stars for the field hockey team this year. She was named the NE-10 Rookie of the Year and earned a spot on the all-conference rookie team. A two-time league rookie of the week, she led the Warrior offense in scoring and total goals, highlighted by a nine-point game.
Athletic Director’s Award: Owen Jarem (Men’s Lacrosse); Michael Rincon (Men’s Soccer); Becca Armstrong (Softball); Katie Bishop (Field Hockey)
This award is given to graduating student-athletes who have been successful on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community. They have provided leadership and guidance to not just Merrimack’s student-athletes but also to the student body as a whole, and I felt it was important that they were honored tonight.
Becca Armstrong has been one of the most dedicated members of the softball team over her four years. She had to battle through injuries that cost her most of her first two seasons before breaking through last year. Those leadership qualities earned the respect of her peers and led to her being named a team captain this spring. She will graduate this May with a degree in business with a GPA over 3.0.
Katie Bishop was a three-year member of the field hockey team and served as captain this past year. She was a two-time All-American and All-Conference selection. While at Merrimack, she helped the team reach back-to-back national semifinal appearances, as well as the league’s regular-season trophy. Although her playing days have concluded, she’ll be returning to finish her degree in Athletic Training next fall and has a GPA of 3.75 to date.
Owen Jarem has been one of the backbones of the men’s lacrosse team over his four years on campus. He was named a team captain prior to the start of this season and has the Warriors on the brink of one of their most memorable seasons in recent history. Merrimack finished as the #2 seed in the NE-10 and will host the league semifinal on Friday and is in great shape to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history. He will graduate in May with a GPA over 3.30 as an Accounting major.
Michael Rincon was a four-year starting midfielder for the men’s soccer team. Ranking 19th in program history in assists, Rincon finished his career with over 30 points. The senior collected all-region honors this past year and was a four-time all-conference selection. A business major, Rincon was very active with Team IMPACT and teammate Brady Antaya and is a leader across campus.
Strength & Conditioning Award: Justin Mansfield (Men’s Ice Hockey); Ashley Weissmann (Women’s Basketball)
This award recognizes varsity student-athletes whose athletic accomplishments reflect their dedication to strength training and conditioning. These athletes are also recognized for their academic and personal accomplishments and their integrity as student-athletes.
Justin Mansfield is the prototype for everything you look for in a leader, setting the standard of excellence on the ice and in the weight room. His commitment to physical preparation has evolved his capacity for performance throughout his collegiate career. He has reaped the benefits of Strength and Conditioning by way of a work ethic that is second to none.
Ashley Weissmann has proven to be one of the hardest working, most dedicated, and committed student-athletes ever. She is relentless in her pursuit of excellence on the court and in the weight room. Her development has been enhanced greatly by her individual commitment to her physical preparation. She continues to set the standard of what it means to be a great teammate and team leader.
Community Service Award: Field Hockey
The field hockey team has been an active member of the community throughout the past academic year. The team makes consistent visits to local elementary schools to participate in various activities with the students. The field hockey team also has partaken in The Wish Project, which provides people who are in need in the Merrimack Valley with basic furniture, home and baby goods primarily through re-use and recycling, as well as Relay for Life and Mack Gives Back.
Unsung Hero Award: Mary McHugh
In her 21st year at Merrimack College, Mary McHugh is the most valuable resource on campus for Merrimack’s student-athletes. Mary is the Faculty Athletic Representative for the athletic department, and is instrumental in guiding and assisting any student-athlete with registration, orientation, strategies for working with Professors and any other academic issues where needed.
Club Sport Team of the Year: Ultimate Frisbee
Led by captains Mark McNall, Collin McLaughlin, Zachariah Blomerth, and Vincent Calomagno, the Merrimack Ultimate Frisbee team saw one of its most successful seasons placing fourth in the Conference tournament to qualify for the regional tournament at Amherst College. This past year, Ultimate Frisbee has seen its biggest growth in the program and now has over 80 active members.
Ultimate Warrior Award: Freshman Alison Tobin is the winner of this year’s Merrimack Ultimate Warrior program. The most dedicated student on campus in support of Merrimack’s athletic program, Alison attended nearly 50 designated Ultimate Warrior sporting events and supported the Warriors at home and on the road, whether it was at a playoff soccer or volleyball match or a home hockey game. A communication studies major, Alison’s favorite memory from this season was the men’s hockey team’s comeback win in overtime during Homecoming Weekend.