Memorable 2017-18 Athletic Season Celebrated At Awards Convocation Friday; Moore And Pope Take Home Top Honors

Memorable 2017-18 Athletic Season Celebrated At Awards Convocation Friday; Moore And Pope Take Home Top Honors

Photo Gallery

KINGS POINT, N.Y. (June 15, 2018) – The United States Merchant Marine Academy held its 2018 Awards Convocation on Friday morning at the Ackerman Auditorium as part of Kings Point Weekend festivities, which culminates with commencement exercises on Saturday. Four major athletic award winners were announced during the ceremony – the Male and Female Athletes of the Year as well as the two Coaches of the Year – along with a number of other athletic awards and honors.

A photo gallery of the Athletics Awards presented during the convocation can be viewed at this link.

The Admiral Giles C. Stedman Trophy, the highest athletic award bestowed upon a graduating male Midshipman went to Brice Moore (Pace, Fla.) of the football team, while Dominique Pope (Silver Spring, Md.) of women's volleyball/track & field earned the Julie A. Berke Trophy for the top senior Female Athlete of the Year. 

Moore, a senior captain of the USMMA football team, was the starting quarterback each of the past two seasons as well as a starting running back his first two campaigns. He helped lead the Mariners to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 15 years. He was a two-time All-Conference selection, earning All-Liberty First Team honors in 2016 before landing on the All-NEWMAC Second Team in 2017. Moore led the Mariners to the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl Championship this past November and was named the bowl game's Most Valuable Player. The Pace, Fla., native was the Mariners' leading rusher and scorer in 2017, ranking high in the nation in both categories as well. He finished his career with 2,478 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns to go along with 1,832 passing yards and 11 passing TDs. 

Pope, a senior captain of the Merchant Marine volleyball team, was a four-year starting outside hitter for Mariners. She was an All-Skyline First Team selection each of the past two seasons and helped lead the squad to the 2017 Skyline Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA National Tournament, the program's first in 16 years. Pope has 799 career kills to her name, as well as 859 digs, 139 service aces, 71 assists and 56 total blocks. She finished her career at Kings Point with the women's track & field team this past 2018 Outdoor Season, in which she wasted no time etching her name into the program record book as a member of the Academy's best 4x100 meter relay team. 

The Dr. Stephen "Bill" Omeltchenko ("Coach O") Coach of the Year Award, voted on by all USMMA head coaches and presented to the top head coach of a men's team went to Tom Gill of men's lacrosse for the second straight season. 

Gill led the USMMA men's lacrosse team to its best season in program history. The Mariners finished the year with a 14-3 overall record, including a perfect 6-0 mark in Skyline Conference action. They captured the 2018 Skyline Championship and earned the program's third trip to the NCAA National Tournament. The Mariners went on to capture their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory with a 22-15 opening round win over Johnson & Wales. This is the fifth time that Coach Gill has been chosen as the Coach of the Year in his 28 years at the Academy. 

In its fourth year, the Sue Petersen Lubow Coach of the Year Award, honoring former Mariner Coach and Athletic Director Sue Petersen Lubow, was awarded to the top head coach of a women's team as voted on by all head coaches. The 2018 recipient of the Lubow Coach of the Year Award was women's lacrosse head coach Kyle Simensky

Simensky is taking home the Lubow Award for the second time in the past three seasons. His 2018 Mariner women's lacrosse squad boasted a program-best 14-3 overall record and went a perfect 7-0 in Skyline Conference action, earning the program's first postseason berth en route to the Skyline Championship and first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Simensky was named the 2018 Skyline Conference Women's Lacrosse Coach of the Year, which was also his second conference coach of the year award in the past three seasons. 

2017-18 will go down as one of the best athletic seasons in Academy history. USMMA boasted a conference-high five Skyline Championship teams (women's volleyball, men's and women's swimming & diving and men's and women's lacrosse), three of which competed in the National Tournament. Five other teams were Skyline runners up and one was a Skyline semifinalist. After the extraordinary seasons came to an end, the Skyline Conference announced that USMMA captured the coveted Skyline Presidents Cup which measures all-sports excellence in conference competition. 

The Cup was presented towards the end of the Convocation to USMMA Superintendent RADM Admiral James A. Helis, Athletic Director Mo White and all the Skyline coaches and student-athletes present at the event. 

Our non-Skyline programs also enjoyed tremendous success in 2017-18 as well. The football team earned a berth to a bowl game for the first time in 15 seasons and captured the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl, finishing the season with a winning record for the second-consecutive year, including retaining the Secretaries' Cup over arch-rival Coast Guard for the third-straight season. Meanwhile, the wrestling team finished as the Centennial Conference runner up and boasted one individual conference champion. The Mariners had one wrestler qualify to compete at the NCAA National Championship meet. 

Two other significant awards presented during the Convocation were the Captain James Liebertz Memorial Award, which is awarded to someone who exemplifies the same traits of dedication, perseverance, enthusiasm and love for USMMA Athletics as Captain James Liebertz – Admiral Helis was selected as this year's recipient of the Liebertz Award – and the 2017-18 Power of Inspiration Awards, which go to individuals who inspire not only through the use of words but actions. The award represents those who are very enthusiastic and passionate about their work and are able to translate it to others. The 2017-18 Power of Inspiration Awards were presented to seniors Brice Moore (Football), Dominique Pope (Women's Volleyball), Tichina Carmon (Greenville, N.C.) (Women's Basketball/Volleyball/Track & Field), Austin Haire (Ignacio, Colo.) (Men's Track & Field), Liz Grove (Winchester, Va.) (Women's Swimming & Diving), Zachary Mullins (Houston, Texas) (Men's Lacrosse), Emily Gramer (Denver, Colo.) (Women's Volleyball) and Katherine Mason (Knoxville, Tenn.) (Tennis). 

Also announced by USMMA Athletics on Friday were the Julie A. Berke Rookie of the Year Awards. This year's winners were James Walsh (Huntington, N.Y.) of the men's basketball team and Victoria Kirshner (Santa Clarita, Calif.) of the women's swimming & diving team. 

Walsh was selected by the conference head coaches as the 2017-18 Skyline Men's Basketball Rookie of the Year and also earned the Mariners' Team MVP Award after his phenomenal freshman campaign where he led Merchant Marine in scoring and was tied for 12th in the Skyline with 13.2 points per game. He was selected the Skyline Player of the Week a conference-best five times and also doubled-up as ECAC Regional Rookie of the Week three separate times throughout the season. 

Kirshner proved to be the best female swimmer in the entire Skyline Conference after her first year of collegiate swimming. She took home both the Skyline Most Outstanding Performer and Rookie of the Year trophies from the championship meet in January. Kirshner was the Skyline Individual Champion in five events (100 freestyle, 200 free, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay) and set numerous Academy, Conference and Skyline Championship Meet records throughout the year. 

Below is a list of all other 2017-18 athletic award winners and a description of each award.

The George S. Zacharkow Award - Pat Coll (Men's Lacrosse)
Presented to a Midshipman who is in the top 25% of the Admiralty Law and Chartering/Brokerage class, a varsity letter award winner for three or more years and a starter or significant contributor for a varsity team.

Thomas LeBlanc Achievement Award – Austin MacElrevey (Cross Country/Track & Field)
Presented to the outstanding male scholar-athlete in the senior class. Established in 1987 as the Captain Leo V. Berger Award, it was revised in 2003 as the LeBlanc Award.

Julie A. Berke Achievement Award – Sarah Milafsky (Women's Lacrosse)
Presented to the outstanding female scholar-athlete in the senior class.

The J.A. "Red" Wagner Memorial Award - DeVar Jones (Football)
A Marine Engineering football player, who is an "unsung hero" – dedicated, devoted, and loves the game.

Herman Berke Athletic Leadership Award – Liz Grove (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Established in 1999 by Julie A. Berke in memory of her husband, Herman Berke '45, this award is presented annually to the Midshipman who made significant contributions to both the athletics and regimental programs during their first class year at USMMA.

Robert G. Domini Memorial Award – Chris Giordano (Men's Lacrosse)
Established in 2008, the Robert G. Domini Memorial Award will be presented annually to the Midshipman who received at least three letters in the sport of either men's or women's basketball, men's or women's lacrosse (if added), baseball or softball and who best exemplifies the traits of Robert Domini, Class of 1954. While not being the most athletically gifted athlete on his teams, Domini was known for being a team leader through drive, determination and hard work. He was also known for being a fierce and intelligent competitor who rose to a far higher level than expected through talent alone, and lived by the motto "Acta Non Verba."

Kenneth Graff Memorial Award – Justus Martin (Baseball)
Established in 2002-03, this award in presented in the memory of Second Lieutenant Kenneth Graff, Class of 2001, who passed away in the fall of 2003, while in attendance at the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida. The Graff Award is presented annually to a member of the Soccer Team and a member of the Baseball Team. The recipients of this award exemplify the same characteristics of fierce competitiveness, regimental honor and integrity, and family pride that Kenneth consistently exhibited during his time as a Midshipman at the Academy.

Hanley-Naegele Award – Charles Deegan (Football) / Blake Bunce (Wrestling)
The Hanley-Neagele Award is presented annually to the outstanding defensive football player and outstanding wrestler. The honor is given in the memory of Midshipman Paul Hanley and Douglas Neagele, who participated in the two sports. This award is contributed by the Kings Point Maritime Association.

Andrew E. Gibson Award – The O-Line: Bob Heyward, William Marino, Joe Castellano, Kyle Carmody, Jake Murphy, Matthew Dudo, Phillip Espinoza (Football)
The Andrew E. Gibson Award is presented annually to the outstanding offensive football player. The trophy was donated by Mr. Andrew Gibson. Gibson maintained many credentials including, former Ship Master, senior executive with the Grace Line, Maritime Administrator and Assistant Secretary of Commerce, President of Delta Line, and most recently as a Professor at the Naval War College.

Steven Wickboldt Memorial Award – David Collins (Men's Track & Field)
This award is presented in the memory of Steven Wickboldt, Class of 1979, and is presented to a member of the Track & Field Team who exemplifies the same traits of dedication, leadership, and sportsmanship which Stevens displaying as Midshipman at the Academy.

Charles C. Rackett Memorial Award – Matthew Nardone & Mark Hayton (Men's Rowing)
The Charles C. Rackett Memorial Award is presented to the Most Valuable Oarsman on the USMMA crew team who contributed the most to the success of the team through steadfast dedication, outstanding performance and superior leadership.

Captain Dan Buckley Memorial Award – George Hatzioannides (Men's Basketball)
The Captain Dan Buckley Memorial Award is given to a basketball player who exemplifies Coach Buckley's work ethic and dedication. The recipient also possesses the qualities of an exceptional leader who has strong character and has been a good teammate.

Academic Dean's Award – Tennis (Small Team) / Baseball (Large Team) / Women's Indoor Track & Field (Most Improved)
The Academic Dean's Award is presented the varsity team with the highest combined grade point average among its members.  In 2008, the Academic Dean's Award was split into two separate awards. One award will be given to a small athletic team of less than 18 members, and the other award will be presented to a large athletic team.  A most improved award is also presented to the team that showed the largest improvement in team grade point average from one academic year to the next.

USMMA Scholar-Athlete Award – Michael Barnes (Baseball) / Sarah Milafsky (Women's Lacrosse)
The USMMA Scholar-Athlete Award is presented annually to a male and female scholar-athlete. The minimum requirements for the award are a 3.2 cumulative GPA, and the athlete must have played a significant role on his or her team. This award is presented to the Midshipmen who have demonstrated excellence in the classroom while contributing to their chosen sport team. The recipient of this award is the institutional winner and will be forwarded on to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) for consideration for its ECAC Scholar-Athlete Award.

ECAC Merit Award – William Marino (Football) / Kayla Gleason (Women's Volleyball)
The ECAC Merit Award presented by the USMMA Employee's Association in memory of deceased member, Robert Brazeil to the outstanding male and female senior scholar-athletes. This award is presented to the midshipmen who have demonstrated excellence in the athletic arena, while maintaining high academic standards.

Captain Perry Walter Team Mentor Award – CDR Paul Acquaro (Women's Basketball Team Mentor)
Established in 1999, this award is presented annually to the team mentor who best exemplifies the traits exhibited by Captain Perry Walter. Captain Walter was known for his guidance and dedication in academics, athletics, and regimental affairs for Midshipmen-Athletes.

Mark J. Paradiso Memorial Service Award – Jan Helis (USMMA First Lady)
Inaugurated in 1984 as the Mariner Service Award, the honor is presented annually by the SAAC in memory of Mark J. Paradiso, Class of 1983. It is bestowed upon a member of the Academy family who best exemplifies the traits of Mark, a Midshipman unequaled in his dedication and service to the USMMA Athletic Program.

Listed below are all the team individual award winners:


Team MVP

Captain Award Winners

Men's Cross Country

Austin MacElrevey

Austin MacElrevey

Women's Cross Country

Anna Lewis

Erica Lawlor
Monica Keeley


Brice Moore

Brice Moore
Jake Murphy
Justin Sydlowski

Women's Volleyball

Dominique Pope

Kayla Gleason
Emily Gramer
Dominique Pope

Men's Basketball

James Walsh

George Hatzioannides
Christian Wittendorf

Women's Basketball

Kaleigh D'Arcy

Tichina Carmon
Gabrielle Salazar

Men's Swimming & Diving

Nolan Monahan

Austin Butt
Adam Fisher
Jordan Weaver

Women's Swimming & Diving

Victoria Kirshner

Liz Grove
Rebecca Slezak


Blake Bunce

Travis Ahrens
Victor Raigoza


Joe Raab
Andrew Spinnenweber

Michael Barnes
Justus Martin

Men's Lacrosse

Nick Treon

Pat Coll
Tucker Dodson
Nick Treon

Women's Lacrosse

Jessica Reilly

Rebecca Bessler
Hannah Gizzi
Maura Malone

Men's Tennis

Barry Booth


Men's Track & Field

Austin MacElrevey

Austin MacElrevey

Women's Track & Field

Kitara Smolinsky

Alex Miller

Men's Crew

Matthew Nardone
Mark Hayton   

Matthew Nardone
Mark Hayton

Women's Crew


Alexis Lytle
Gianna Mique

Dinghy Sailing

Charles W. Lomax

Vincent Storino

Offshore Sailing

Brendan Wright

Scott Johnston

Follow USMMA Athletics On Social Media!
Be sure to follow USMMA Athletics on social media to get up-to-the-minute updates on your favorite teams! Start following today on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!