2010-11 Athlete of the Year Award winner Sukhjit Athwal and Bryce Miller. (Photo: Dawn Ellerbe)
HAYWARD, Calif. – The Cal State East Bay Athletics Department took time out to honor its student-athletes on their many accomplishments this year at the annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet on May 26 at the New Student Union. The event closed out the 2010-11 campaign that saw the Pioneers earn eight all-conference selections, collect four all-district awards and have seven named conference player of the week during their second year in NCAA Division II and the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). Among the student-athletes and student athletic trainers honored were Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Bryce Miller and Sukhjit Athwal.
A junior pitcher on the baseball team, Miller finished his first season as a Pioneer second on the team with five wins. The Pleasanton native made a start every week of the season, pitching the most innings of any pitcher on the team and posting the best earned run average among the starters at 3.01.
Athwal, a senior outside hitter, was second on the team in kills per game, played in 26 of the squad's 27 games and finished fifth in blocks. Hailing from Milpitas, Athwal was a key leader on and off the court, helping guide the Pioneers to a tie for second place in the CCAA and to a pair of victories over ranked opponents in 2010. For her efforts, Athwal was also named to the All-CCAA Second Team.
Each of the other candidates for Male Athlete of the Year also found plenty of success during the 2010-11 season. Freshman goalkeeper Bryce Bookhamer was among the nation's leaders between the pipes, earning NSCAA All-West Region Third Team honors after leading the CCAA in saves and saves per game and ranking third in Division II in both of those categories. Brandyn Bell, also a starting pitcher for the baseball team, led the squad and tied for sixth in the CCAA with six wins on the year and tossed a pair of shutouts for the Pioneers.
A group of talented and successful young women made up the rest of the Female Athlete of the Year candidates as well. In her first year on the Pioneer softball team, Taylor Neumann anchored a team that finished near .500, hitting .311 with 28 RBI and seven homeruns and playing every inning of every game in 2011. Last year's Female Athlete of the Year, Claire Pierce had yet another impressive season, collecting All-WWPA First Team honors and leading the conference in goals and steals and leading the team to its best-ever finish at the WWPA Tournament.
Senior cross country and track captain Nancy Velazquez ran a 35-second personal record at CCAA Championships in the fall and ranked 11th in the CCAA in the 1500 in 2011. Rounding out the female nominees, swimmer Murphy Wimer broke six school records in her first season as a Pioneer, collecting three medals and helping the team to its best-ever finish at PCSC Championships in February.
Senior baseball player Johnny Volk was honored for his dedication to the athletics program with the Pioneer Spirit Award, created and voted on by the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) representatives from each Cal State East Bay team. A vocal and regular attendee at all Pioneer sporting events, Volk was also a key organizer for SAAC's Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraising efforts and an important leader in organization, completing his second year as SAAC President in 2010-11.
Senior volleyball players Lauren Massa and Roxanne Neely were announced as the Cal State East Bay winners of the CCAA's Hal Charnofsky Memorial Award for their academic and athletic achievements. The award recognizes two CCAA student-athletes from each member school who have distinguished themselves in the classroom and in their sport.
Each team and the Pioneer sports medicine staff also honored their top students with the Scholar-Athlete Award. Winners of the award included soccer's Tyler Andersen and Tenaya Davis, water polo's Julia Charlesworth, golf's Mark DeWitt and Deanna Tyndall, basketball's Kenneth Farr II and Kristina Lin, softball's Dani Foster, Massa, athletic training's Kendra Mason, cross country's Megan McDaniel and Erik Rodriguez, swimming's Heidi Reddig and baseball's Zachary Wong.
Our 49 seniors were also recognized for their contributions to the program, in particular the 15 student-athletes who were four-year letterwinners for their teams. Athena Bell, Wes Davis, John Erlandson, Will Freedman, Michelle Garcia, Jenna Gelet, Sean Lynum-Young, Massa, Neely, Francisco Pulido, Steven Shutler, Velazquez, Volk, Christina Walker and Liz Warren each played a key role in helping the Cal State East Bay teams make the difficult transition to Division II during their time in the Pioneer uniform.
Other honorees at the banquet included Athletics Marketing and Promotions Intern Kenya Broadnax, who was recently named the 2011 Administrator of Tomorrow by the National Association of Collegiate Woman Athletic Administrators. The national award is given annually to an athletics department student, graduate assistant, intern or volunteer whose dedication and hard work show promise as a future athletics administrator.
Head Volleyball Coach Jim Spagle was also recognized for his selection as CCAA Coach of the Year, while outgoing President Mohammad Qayoumi and Vice President of Administration and Finance Shawn Bibb were honored and thanked for their ardent support of the Athletics Department throughout their time at the university.
Along with student-athletes and coaches representing every Pioneer team, athletics department and university staff members were on hand to help celebrate a successful second season in Division II and the CCAA. Among those in attendance were Qayoumi, Bibb, Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis and Associated Students, Inc., President Mohammed Shahid Beig, who each spoke to congratulate the student-athletes on their accomplishments this school year.