Athletic Awards Ceremony Celebrates 2018-2019 Student Athletes

President Tim Gibson and Athletic Director Bryan Finley honor student athletes for their risk-taking and high achievement both on and off the field.

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On Thursday, March 28, The King’s College Athletics honored the students that participated in athletics during the 2018-2019 academic year. Through various athletic offerings, young men and women at King’s have the opportunity to practice leadership and genuine involvement in teamwork while also developing character as committed, disciplined, and competitive athletes.

Athletic Director Bryan Finley said, “We feel the Athletics Awards Dinner is the finale of the athletics year. It’s a time when we can celebrate the hard work of our athletes. It’s important for camaraderie to bring the all the different teams together, and to recognize individual awards in front of the athletic community.”

Before the ceremony, President Tim Gibson congratulated the athletes specifically for their risk-taking, as part of a generation that is not known for making risky choices. “College athletics is the one activity in which you actively and purposefully choose to risk. You risk disappointing your teammates. You risk the score at the end of the period not being in your favor. You learn how to win graciously and lose graciously. You are actively risking, and it distinguishes you as student athletes apart from the rest of the student body.” While King’s values competition in many ways, Gibson said, the students in the room choose to risk even more than their peers and their generation by choosing to participate in college athletics. “The studies are bearing it out: student athletes are going to be more successful down the line than those who choose not to risk.” Gibson encouraged the student athletes, “You choose to risk to grow in your grit, your commitment, your dependability, and we are happy to honor that this evening.”

The banquet hosted featured guest Ken Akselsen, the area representative for Athletes in Action. With his wife Stephanie, he oversees the Church Partnership Camp ministry in the New Jersey Area. He also serves as the chaplain for the Philadelphia Professional Union soccer team. He shared about the different ways his organization seeks to support college athletes as they connect their faith with their sports. Akselsen encouraged the students that the lessons they learn as athletes—the early mornings, the hours of practice, their commitment to their teammates—will help them succeed in their future endeavors.

Coaches presented awards to each athlete signifying how many years they participated in their respective sports. During this time Finley thanked two coaches who wrapped up their last seasons with King’s athletics this year. Coach Alex Rollis, King’s alumna and previous member of the Women’s Volleyball team, will be handing her team over to Grace Croley, also an alumna of King’s and Women’s Volleyball. Coach Bill Mangarelli will be stepping down from his position as head coach of the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Under Mangarelli’s lead, the Women’s Basketball team made the playoffs for the first time.

This year, King’s athletes earned over 80 awards, the highest number the program has ever received. Six King’s athletes were specially recognized for athletic and academic achievement, receiving the National All-Academic Team award from the United States College Athletic Association. This award celebrates the achievements of student athletes in their sophomore, junior, or senior years who achieved a 3.5 or higher GPA while competing in their sport. The athletes from King’s who received this distinction are Savannah White (Women’s Volleyball, ’19), Hannah Hagadorn (Women’s Soccer, ’19), Kiana Watkins (Women’s Soccer, ’20), Catie Shoemaker (Women’s Basketball, Summer ’20), Justin Cox (Men’s Basketball, ’19), and Benjamin “Luke” Borchelt (Men’s Soccer and Basketball, ’19).

The evening ended with the recognition of 10 senior athletes: Tom Champlin (Men’s Soccer, ’19), Nick Beckman (Men’s Soccer, Fall ’18), Benjamin “Luke” Borchelt (Men’s Soccer and Basketball, ’19), Nolan Wolfe (Men’s Soccer, ’19), Justin Cox (Men’s Basketball, ’19), Jonathan Pressley (Track & Field, ’19), Megan LeBlanc (Women’s Soccer and Basketball, ’19), Hannah Hagadorn (Women’s Soccer, ’19), Isabelle Sandmeyer (Women’s Volleyball, Fall ’18), and Savannah White (Women’s Volleyball, ’19).

After the event, Ashur Longdon, head coach of Cross Country and Track & Field, spoke highly of King’s students that choose to participate in athletics: “The academic rigor these kids go through and still commit to doing a sport that they love is amazing.” Longdon praised the way that King’s athletes graciously receive constructive criticism and then take the initiative to implement it.

Coach Mangarelli shared a similar sentiment. “Working at King’s,” he said, “was a different experience. It’s not your typical athletic school. These kids take five or six classes, work hard, keep their grades up, and show up at six o’clock in the morning for their practices. I’m proud I was able to be here for five years.”

The full list of awards is available on The King’s College Athletics webpage.

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