FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2015
Winners to be announced at NE-10 Annual Banquet
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Northeast-10 Conference has announced the finalists for its 2015 Man and Woman of the Year Awards, which will be revealed at the league’s annual banquet on Monday, June 1 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
The three finalists for the 2015 Northeast-10 Man of the Year Award are Bentley University’s Danny Guadagnoli (football), Le Moyne College’s Keleenna Onyeaka (soccer) and Southern New Hampshire University’s Kyle Thomas (baseball).
The NE-10 Woman of the Year finalists are Bentley University’s Gina Lirange (field hockey), University of New Haven’s Ivy Watts (track & field) and the College of Saint Rose’s Jourdan Thompson (soccer).
Guadagnoli, the starting quarterback for the Falcons, is an economics-finance major with a 3.74 GPA who also played a major role as a leader for Team Impact with Bentley. The senior led the NE-10 in passing yards per game (312.5) and touchdown passes (31).
“My collegiate experience has been instrumental in shaping my values, inspiring me to pursue a purpose of selflessness and gratitude in life,” said Guadagnoli. “Developing as a leader on my football team and within the community has cultivated this passion. As a leader for Team Impact, I was awestruck by the compassion and courage of a family in a never-ending fight for health, our most basic blessing that so many people take for granted. The young boy we embraced into our team and his family have become close friends of mine, and they continue to amaze me. They treasure every second, expressing love and gratitude over the simplest things.
“After spending so much time with them, it became clear to me that appreciating every little thing in life is the key,” Guadagnoli added. “I’ve learned that there is nothing besides the present moment, and one’s ability to make this moment meaningful is what defines a person’s “success” in life. My goal has been to carry this purpose in everything— class, practice, social interactions, community service events, everything. I strive to cherish every moment and everyone, to make the most of all the wonderful blessings in my life and positively impact the world around me.”
Onyeaka, an economics major and volunteer for numerous service projects including Team Impact, graduated with a GPA of 3.812. He was an all-conference first team selection as a defender, anchoring a Dolphin defense that gave up just 0.81 goals per game.
“In England the term student-athlete is rarely used, and so before I came to the United States I could never have imagined the impact it would have on my life,” explained Onyeaka. “More important than the awards and grades I have attained, being a Student-Athlete has helped me develop so many fundamental life skills: discipline, empathy and commutation to name a few. But above all improving these skills on a yearly basis have enabled me to increase my influence within the classroom, office, community, field and household. Development in one leads to the bar being raised in the other and this has ultimately helped me become a more well-rounded individual.
“To list the stories of all that I have gained from my experience as an NE-10 Student-Athlete would take a life time, because I am sure it will continue to benefit me throughout my life,” continued Onyeaka. “However I can confidently say that the leader, scholar-athlete, and the man that I am today would struggle to be half as successful had it not been for my Student-Athlete experiences, and for that I am beyond thankful to God, Le Moyne, the NE-10, NCAA and America.”
Thomas, a justice studies/psychology major with a 3.865 GPA, spent much of his time off the baseball field volunteering for projects such as Team Impact, in addition to being Studen Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President. On the field, Thomas appeared in a pair of contests on the mound for the Penmen without giving up a run.
“I never thought that four years ago I would be in the position I am today,” stated Thomas. “My college experience has completely changed my life and set me on a path destined for success. As an athlete, my playing time has been extremely limited. That limitation has become a catalyst for my passion to help others succeed. My goal over the past four years has been to demonstrate that your impact does not need to be measured by statistics or grade point averages. Impact is defined by the commitment and dedication to your own personal goals and the change you can create in others by achieving those goals.
“Being involved with athletics in conjunction with other academic organizations has taught me that being a member allows for learning and development, but becoming a leader is a privilege that must be earned and respected,” Thomas added. “No one has taught me how influential my commitment and dedication to a person or goal can be more than Ian Price. Ian has been a three-year member of Team Impact and the Penmen baseball program. He has taught me that adversity is a part of life and even walking just one step forward can define success.”
A forward on Bentley’s field hockey team, Lirange posted a 3.86 GPA while working with SAAC and Team Impact among many other groups. She was a first team all-conference selection and second team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) on the field.
“For the past four years at Bentley University, I have been incredibly fortunate to participate on campus as a student-athlete,” stated Lirange. “The field hockey team, an extremely involved group of young women, certainly kept me busy with the sport, but also granted me the opportunity and taught me the value of giving back to the community. Through my team’s connection, I was able to work with the Team Impact organization and lead in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
“Working with our Team Impact player, Sasha, we were able to positively influence the life of a young girl who faces a chronic illness every day,” continued Lirange. “SAAC frequently organizes events to benefit the local community and takes part in fundraisers that benefit health causes. Seeing the difference that even a small group of individuals can make has truly shown me the value of leadership and community involvement. Furthermore, the ability to take a lead role in making positive contributions for those who face tough circumstances is not only an amazing and rewarding feeling, but encourages me to take the experiences and lessons I have gained at Bentley and move forward with a community-oriented mindset in my life after school.”
Watts, who has regularly aided a number of community service projects, is a psychology major with a 3.97 GPA. The Chargers’ sprinter has set multiple school records and previously earned All-America honors in the 4x400-meter relay.
“I believe that our daily experiences are truly what mold us into the people that we become,” explained Watts. “I entered college unsure of myself and afraid to take risks, but I can truly say that my experiences over the four years through being a student, an athlete, and an active person in the community, have made me a more confident person.
“I have learned the true meaning of time-management, the importance of taking chances, and what it means to work hard,” added Watts. “I have learned that with hard work, anything is possible, and I can proudly say that I have a cumulative GPA of 3.97 from that hard work. I have learned passion and dedication from seeing the positive results after spending countless hours working hard at practice or on an assignment. As easy as it may have seemed to quit, I continued to work hard every day in order to accomplish my goals. I often felt confused and defeated, but I learned how important it was to overcome hardships and to continue to be the best version of me. My experiences have allowed me to grow as a person and ultimately helped me to find myself.”
Thompson, a team captain for the Golden Knights, posted a GPA of 3.45 while also spending a large amount of time working with SAAC. A two-time Daktronics/D2CCA All-American, Thompson was tabbed NE-10 Women’s Soccer Championship MVP after guiding Saint Rose to the league title in the fall.
“My academic and athletic devotion have undoubtedly shaped me into the woman I am today,” said Thompson. “Coming from a predominantly Caucasian town, as an interracial female, soccer has always been my savor, providing me with a platform in which I can cope. I believe that through soccer anything is possible. My parents have always sacrificed to give me every opportunity imaginable. However, when it came to the expenses of college it was financially unfeasible for them. My passion for the game pushed me to work and save towards my dream of becoming a student-athlete.
“After two years I proved hard work pays off,” Thompson added. “I have been able to meet the high demands of the classroom while having the opportunity to represent my college and the Northeast-10 on a national level. As a three-year captain and Vice President of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, I have made it a personal mission to break down barriers and create a sense of community through my sport. My internship at Corning Place Communications has provided me with the opportunity to devote my time advocating for those in need. I plan to continue on this career path, with ambitions of becoming a children’s advocate attorney.”
ABOUT THE NORTHEAST-10
The Northeast-10 Conference is an association of 15 NCAA Division II colleges and universities located in New England and New York that is committed to supporting balanced academic and athletic opportunities for more than 6,500 student-athletes.
Each year, 4,500 of those student-athletes compete in conference championships in 24 sports, making the NE-10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the Northeast-10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.