Different from previous years, Plattsburgh State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation broadcasted it’s annual Student-Athlete Recognition & Awards Ceremony, to honor student-athletes’ achievements and to celebrate the graduating seniors May 4.
“We have enjoyed another spectacular year. As again, this year we have watched Cardinals succeed in and out of the classroom while at the same time being outstanding leaders both on campus and in the greater Plattsburgh community,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Mike Howard said. “So thank you all and I look forward to sharing many, many great years with so many of you.”
The ceremony was hosted by Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications Brian Savard and started with a warm welcome by Howard, followed by opening remarks from PSU President Alexander Enyedi, wearing a Cardinal hockey jersey and Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Bryan Hartman.
“I want you to know that we are immensely proud of the success of Cardinals Athletics on this campus. Tonight, we celebrate your excellence. Your excellence as students and your excellence as a student-athlete. We celebrate your ethical values. We celebrate your life-long learning and we celebrate that you’re responsible citizens in a global community,” Enyedi said.
Enyedi also expressed that he was particularly proud of student-athletes’ academic success, where the cumulative grade-point averages of women and men athletes was 3.28 and 3.06 respectively, totaling an average cumulative GPA across 334 student-athletes of 3.16.
Hartman also acknowledged the coaches and athletics administrators for their effort in providing a positive experience for student-athletes.
The award ceremony was then kicked off with congratulating sophomore Abdousabour Tidjani for his SUNYAC Elite 20 award. Savard continued with the introductions of the newest class of Chi Alpha Sigma inductees and also recognition of the second-year and third-year Chi Alpha Sigma honorees.
The awards given for the night consisted of the Richard D. Semmler Award, Senior Achievement Awards, and Athletes of the Year.
Richard D. Semmler Award, named in honor of 1968 PSU graduate and philanthropist Richard D. Semmler, is awarded to the senior student-athletes with the highest cumulative GPA through the fall semester of their senior year. The recipient of the award is Katie Matott from the women’s soccer team, 3.96 GPA, and Jimmy Poreda from the men’s ice hockey team, 3.91GPA.
“We were all so thrilled for Matott. We watched [the broadcast] together as a team,” women’s soccer head coach Tania Armellino said. “Knowing Matott for four years, she’s an incredible student and has tremendous performance on and off the field. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving.”
Armellino said Matott is always striving for excellence while also being funny, which makes her great to be around with. She also said she will miss Matott, especially during training time, after she graduates.
“Poreda is a tremendous student-athlete. He’s always the first and last on ice,” men’s ice hockey head coach Stephen Moffat said. “We never have to worry about him. He’s always consistent with his work ethic and his academics.”
Poreda was surprised to receive the award as he is actually graduating as a junior. He also said he will remain in PSU for graduate school.
“I’m not just a hockey player but a well-rounded person. [Receiving the award] puts pressure on me. It doesn’t necessarily motivate me because I’m pretty highly motivated now to do better,” Poreda said.
The Senior Achievement Awards was then awarded to a senior or junior who has completed academic requirements and is graduating in May. A student-athlete’s entire career is considered toward their athletics accomplishment for the award.
Hannah Kiraly from the women’s ice hockey team, Elisabeth Plympton from the women’s track and field team and Kyle Smith from men’s lacrosse are the award winners.
In Kiraly’s career, she was able to lead the Cardinals to two national championships and was the fifth player in the program history to have earned three All-America honors. She was also selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Team in 2019.
Kiraly became NEWHL’s first three-time First-Team All-Conference honoree and has assisted the Cards in winning four conference championships. Kiraly earned a total of 82 career points on nine goals and 73 assists and ranked fourth in program history for career points for a defenseman.
After four years in track and field, Plympton qualified a total of five times for NCAA Championships between the indoor and outdoor seasons and earned All-America honors in the 60-meter dash in the 2018 NCAA Championships. Plympton also owns five program records—the indoor 60-meter dash, the indoor 4×200-meter relay, the indoor 4×400-meter relay, the outdoor 4×100-meter relay and the outdoor 4×400-meter relay.
Despite his season cut short, Smith earned the award as he entered this season as the reigning SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Year. He also received an honorable mention in the 2020 Inside Lacrosse Preseason Men’s Division III All-American before the start of the season.
As one of the co-captain, Smith was named to the SUNYAC All-Tournament Team in 2018 and was able to assist the Cards to enter their first-ever SUNYAC championship in 2017.
The final award of the ceremony was Athlete of the Year, where the candidate can come from any class and only accomplishments from this year was taken into consideration to determine the award winner.
Athlete of the Year 2020 award winners are junior Annie Katonka from women’s ice hockey and senior Anthony Ciccarelli from men’s track and field.
Katonka was named the First-Team All-American, the NEWHL Player of the Year, and First-Team All-NEWHL selection. She was also a finalist for the Laura Hurd Award, sponsored by the American Hockey Coaches Association to honor the top player in Division III women’s ice hockey.
Even though her season was cut short, Katonka helped lead the Cards to winning the NEWHL championship, earned the top seed in the NCAA Tournament and ended the year with an 18-win streak.
Ciccarelli helped PSU in posting its best finish at the SUNYAC Indoor Championships since 2006. He was placed second in the SUNYAC Indoor Championship, finished with a score of 4,591 points, ranked the third-best performance in program history.
Ciccarelli was also named 2020 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field All-Region honoree alongside freshman Jared Davidson and senior Brianna Coon. He was also named to the All-Region Team by virtue of ranking fourth in the region in the heptathlon.
After all the award winners were revealed, Plattsburgh Athletics recognized all the graduating seniors and thanked them for their contributions. Spring athletes were addressed and appreciated for their commitment despite their season being cut short due to the pandemic. The normal ritual of handing blankets to the seniors on stage was not possible but the blankets will be mailed to all senior student-athletes in the coming weeks.
All spring sports coaches also recorded a message to thank and congratulate the graduating seniors on their sports career and their contribution to the teams.
“We want the best for them and we truly believe they can do whatever they set their mind to,” Armellino said.