HAMDEN, Conn. – Quinnipiac University seniors Eric Hartzell (White Bear Lake, Minn.) and Nicole Lewis (East Amherst, N.Y.) were named the Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively, at the 2012-13 Quinnipiac University Athletics and Recreation Awards banquet at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.
Selected upon by administrators of the Quinnipiac Department of Athletics and Recreation, the Athlete of the Year award recognizes two student-athletes, one male and one female, who had outstanding seasons with their respective programs. Only athletes who are voted as their team’s Most Valuable Player are eligible for the award.
Hartzell was the driving force behind the success of the men’s ice hockey program this season, helping the Bobcats to 30 wins and a Frozen Four appearance – the first in program history. Hartzell posted a 30-7-5 record, a 1.57 goals against average and a .933 save percentage, which also included an 8-1 record against teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament.
He completed his time at Quinnipiac with a 58-27-17 (.652) record which is good enough for the second most wins in program history. He also posted a .924 save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average, both serving as Quinnipiac career records. Upon the completion of Quinnipiac's season, Hartzell signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League – only the fourth player in Quinnipiac history to sign with a professional franchise.
On the women’s side, it was Nicole Lewis who received the most votes to claim Quinnipiac’s top female athlete. Lewis was named the 2012 NEC Goalkeeper of the Year after leading the conference with a .812 save percentage and four shutouts. She also ranked third in goals against average (1.59) and finished with 11 wins on the year for the Bobcats, who qualified for their fifth consecutive NEC Tournament and 12th overall.
Lewis, who hails from East Amherst, NY, was tabbed to the NEC All-Tournament team after stopping a program-record 13 shots in Quinnipiac's NEC semifinal game against Rider. She was also named to the Longstreth/NFHCA All-Mideast Region second team and honored with the NEC’s Field Hockey Scholar-Athlete of the Year award at the end of the season.
In addition to the evening’s top honor, the ceremony also included presentations of all 21 Quinnipiac varsity athletic teams’ respective Most Valuable Player awards. In addition, members of Quinnipiac Athletic Training, Sports Information, Recreation & Fitness and Intramurals and all spirit groups also announced their MVP's of the 2012-13 academic calendar. Senior Associate Athletic Director Billy Mecca and the Voice of the Bobcats Bill Schweizer served as the Masters of Ceremonies for the evening.
The banquet also included several complementary recognitions and awards distributed to other groups within the Department of Athletics and Recreation. Admissions and Financial Aid were the recipients of the Behind the Scenes Award, an honor given to a group of individuals who has gone above and beyond for the Department of Athletics and Recreation in the past year. For the third straight year, the women’s lacrosse team earned the Positive Play Award, an accolade given to the Quinnipiac University athletic team that earned the most points in the Bobcats' Positive Play initiative, designed to encourage community involvement by the University's student-athletes. Associate Director of Athletics/Recreation Center Tami Reilly and Associate Director of Intramurals Michael Medina concluded the segment with the presentation of their Student Employees of the Year (Anthony Forlini and Amanda LaFalce), Athletes of the Years (Jessica Schmid and Ben Fan) and Official of the Year (Dan Zinkus).
In addition to the award winners and most valuable players, the Department of Athletics & Recreation also honored the student-athletes who had the highest grade-point average by class. Baseball pitcher Spencer Kane and women’s tennis standout Sarah Viebrock were the Senior Class recipients after posting GPA’s of 3.80 and 3.75, respectively. Ashley Kopacki of the women’s volleyball team posted a 3.98 GPA and men’s soccer’s Jason Vancura chimed in with a GPA of 3.84, to earn the top slots among all juniors; while the sophomores consisted of men’s lacrosse defender Greg Pendergast and women’s soccer midfielder Angela Ellison, who posted a 4.0 and 3.93, respectively. Pendergast was honored with the award for the second straight year. Rounding out the awards was the freshmen class who garnered four student-athletes with a perfect 4.0 GPA: Jennifer Mears (Women’s Soccer), Matthew Mensher (Men’s Cross Country), Chandler Thornton (Women’s Volleyball) and Kristen Ulrich (Women’s Track & Field).
Quinnipiac Athletics also honored over 160 student-athletes for their academic prowess as part of the Scholar-Athlete Recognition portion of the evening. Individuals were honored by school and recognized by the deans of the respective departments. The School of Business and Dean Matthew O'Connor recognized 40 scholar-athletes, Dean Lee Kamlet of the School of Communications recognized 21 scholar-athletes, the School of Health Sciences and Dean Edward O'Connor recognized 57 scholar-athletes, Dean Hans Bergman of the School of Arts and Sciences recognized 33 scholar-athletes and Dean Jean Lange of the School of Nursing recognized 10 scholar-athletes.