BOSTON, Mass. – The Simmons University Department of Athletics honored its athletics programs, student-athletes, coaches and staff at the annual Evening of Champions awards banquet on May 7 at the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center on the Simmons University campus.
The Department of Athletics recognized and honored its senior athletes, while also handing out five major honors and honoring team academic excellence during the evening.
The Chair of the Undergraduate Nursing Program and Associate Professor of Nutrition , Charlene Berube, bestowed the Student-Athlete of the Year Award to senior rower Peizhu Pam Qian (Beijing, China / Developing Virtue Secondary Girls School (Calif.)). The native of China has excelled academically, both in the classroom and throughout the United States. She has been named to the Dean's List every semester at Simmons, while posting a 4.0 grade point average in all but one semester at the Fenway School. The Mathematics and Computer Science major has also been named to the prestigious Honor Academy at Simmons. She was part of a four-person group chosen from universities throughout the world, that won the top prize in the Computing4Change competition hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on High Performance Computing at The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC18) in Dallas, Texas in mid-November. Qian was also named the runner-up for the Castellan Award for the best student presentation with special recognition at the 48th Annual Meeting of The Society for Computers in Psychology in New Orleans. The Society had never bestowed a runner-up award prior to the conference. For the crew team, Qian has worked hard to gain a spot with the first varsity eight, pulling from the middle seats and helped the Sharks to a victory in the WPI Invitational Petite Final as well as a number of top-three finishes during the season.
Director of Athletics, Ali Kantor, presented the Athlete of the Year Award to junior swimmer Aine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.). The West Coast native was named the GNAC Female Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row in addition to becoming the first swimmer in school history to compete in three different events at the NCAA Championship. In addition, Scholand earn All-America Honorable Mention honors for the second straight year after placing ninth in the 1650-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championship in March. The Neuroscience and Behavior major was the top scorer at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship after winning all four of her individual events, including three in conference-record time and two weeks later became the first swimmer in school annals to win all three of her individual races at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship for the second straight season, while helping Simmons break a meet record in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Dean for Student Life, Susan Antonelli, gave out the Athletic Director's Senior Award to senior soccer and lacrosse player Mallory Cottam (Hope, R.I.). The senior earned All-Conference honors in both of her sports, being named to the GNAC Third Team for soccer and the Second Team for lacrosse. Cottam established herself as one of the best all-around lacrosse players in the conference and was one of just three GNAC players to rank among the top 18 in points (58/13th), goals (44/12th), assists (14/18th) ground balls (54/7th), draw controls (85/4th) and caused turnovers (25/12th). The Physical Therapy major finishes her career as the school's career games played leader with 71, while ranking sixth in points with 141, fifth in goals with 117, second in ground balls (140) and draw controls (197) and seventh with 61 caused turnovers.
Associate Professor for Nutrition, Lisa Brown, presented the Coaches' Award to senior soccer player Cíara Forde (Quincy, Mass.). The midfielder was named to the GNAC All-Conference Second Team and was also selected to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District® Women's Soccer Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The Physical Therapy major was among the league's point and goal leaders throughout the season and ranked fourth among conference players with 28 points and 13 goals. Her goal and point totals both rank as the seventh-most in school history. She finished her tenure with the Sharks among Simmons' all-time scoring leaders, ranking sixth with 75 career points and fourth with 32 goals and is also 10th with 11 lifetime assists. She stands seventh in games played with 73 and her eight game-winning goals rank as the second-most for a Shark in the last 15 years.
Professor and Chair of Chemistry, Jennifer Roecklein-Canfield, handed out the Rookie of the Year Award to first year cross country runner Alice Najimy (East Hampstead, N.H.). The newcomer was named the GNAC All-Conference First Team in addition to being tabbed the Rookie of the Year to become the first Simmons harrier to earn the accolade. She placed sixth in their first-ever race at the collegiate level and turned in a sub-20 minute time in her next race to become the first rookie to go under 20 minutes since the program was reinstated eight years ago at Simmons. The Nursing major was the top finisher on the team in every race this season and posted four top-six finishes during the year, including a fifth-place showing at the conference championship, which marked the highest of any rookie Shark since 2011.
Simmons College President, Helen Drinan, presented the President's Cup to the Cross Country team for compiling a 3.75 grade point average for the 2017-18 academic year.
The department's 34 senior student-athletes were also recognized with stoles to be worn during the commencement ceremony, while four-year student-athletes were also honored with Simmons University blankets.
The Student-Athlete Speaker, Cassie Vietas, spoke about the love she has for her sport and the comfort and feeling of home that it provides her. She also spoke about how being a student-athlete has helped shape who she is as a person and prepared her for her life after Simmons.