The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) is delighted to announce its 2015-16 winners of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Male and Female Members of the Year awards, with Penn State Abington senior Alex Kane (Doylestown, Pa.) and Penn College senior Nicole LoFurno (Glen Mills, Pa.) each garnering the honor.
The annual awards, which began in 2014-15, were established to recognize the multiple contributions of the SAAC members across the conference. Each school was allowed to nominate one male and one female SAAC member from their institution based on criteria such as their leadership roles within the group, their dedication to community service and their involvement on campus. All nominations were then reviewed and voted on by the SAAC advisors from each of the NEAC’s 14 full-member schools.
NEAC SAAC Male Member of the Year
Alex Kane (Doylestown, Pa.), an accounting major at Penn State Abington, took home the SAAC Male Member of the Year award.
“Alex is not only highly accomplished academically as well as in his respective sport, but he truly has the heart of a lion,” said Abington SAAC Advisor Noelle Powell. “It's with this heart and dedication that he helped navigate outings and events and generate new ideas for our SAAC group that helped bring teams together. It's wonderful that this aspect of Alex's commitment to Penn State Abington and the entire athletics department is also being rewarded.”
An influential member of Abington’s SAAC for three years, Kane (left) took on leadership responsibilities within the group while serving as Co-President this year, with his voice helping lead to more opportunities for student-athletes to engage in service activities. Kane organized an on-campus sneaker/shoe drive for the “Back On My Feet” organization, while also personally raising over $100 for Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Kane was also an integral member of the campus community, serving as a free tutor for fellow student-athletes, while also being an orientation leader and a student-facilitator for the diversity leadership retreat. Academically, Kane was a four-time NEAC Scholar-Athlete award recipient, which is annually granted to student-athletes that have a two-semester grade-point average of 3.4 or higher.
Athletically, Kane was the most highly decorated cross country runner in program history for the Nittany Lions. A team captain the past three years, Kane was both the NEAC Rookie and Runner of the Year in 2012-13 after being the top individual finisher at the NEAC Championships as a freshman, before again being the NEAC Runner of the Year in 2014-15 with another individual conference championship title. He also lent his skills to the local community, serving as a volunteer coach for a local high school track and field program.
Kane capped his remarkable collegiate career by being this year’s co-recipient of Abington’s prestigious Fred Striet Memorial Award. The honor is presented annually to a student-athlete who demonstrates leadership and character, pride in academics, and growth and perfection through sport.
"Alex is an amazing young man who is very passionate about helping others without asking anything in return,” said Jose Rodriguez, head coach of Abington’s cross country team. “He is always looking for ways to support and be there for anyone in need, whether it be academically, athletically or personally. His athleticism speaks for itself being the most decorated runner not only in our college’s history but as well as in NEAC. He is a great leader and demonstrates sportsmanship at every single race he participated in. I cannot think of a better person for us to honor with such a prestigious award."
NEAC SAAC Female Member of the Year
Nicole LoFurno (Glen Mills, Pa.), a member of the Wildcat softball team who was in high academic standing as a business management major with a concentration in baking and pastry arts at Penn College, garnered this year’s SAAC Female Member of the Year award. As SAAC President, LoFurno initiated and worked on every single community service project for Penn College, which led to over 2,000 volunteer hours served by Wildcat student-athletes.
“Nicole was very instrumental in not only the success of our young softball program but also as the President of our SAAC,” said Penn College SAAC Advisor and head softball coach Jackie Klahold. “She was very proactive all year with her leadership at meetings and by having that ‘take-charge’ approach to community service on and off campus at Penn College. She definitely set the bar high for future Penn College SAAC representatives to be a positive role model on and off the field.”
LoFurno’s community service initiatives delivered a wealth of events that provided support both locally and nationally. Along with her softball teammates, LoFurno (right) helped organize two cancer awareness games, including a Lace-Up Game for Pediatric Cancer Awareness and a Pink Game in conjunction with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Strikeout Cancer initiative. LoFurno and her squad also oversaw the campus’ participation in the National Buddy Walk for Down syndrome awareness, in addition to organizing a mini sports clinic during National Girls and Women in Sports Day. She also assisted with the FireTree Place Community Center Outreach Program and the Penn College Giving Tree, as well other events to help the local community that included the Stuff the Truck Food Drive and the Community 5K Challenge.
Those projects ramped up during the National NCAA Division III Week held this past April, where LoFurno oversaw a Pie the Staff Fundraiser to kick off the week, with proceeds going to the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital for Children’s Miracle Network. She also helped organize the FireTree Place Community Center Cleanup later that week, with members of various Wildcat teams spending five hours at the center to help organize files, build shelves and clean out all old materials. LoFurno, a tri-captain for the softball team, also joined those student-athletes to assist with the center’s After School Program, as they cleaned and prepped game rooms for the after school club while assisting kids with their homework.
“Nicole has demonstrated the key characteristic that I believe it takes to be successful in life,” said Penn College Athletics Director Scott Kennell. “She has shown leadership characteristics towards her teammates, especially when it comes to their success both on the field and in the classroom.”
Below is an Honorable Mention list of fellow NEAC SAAC members nominated for each award.
Dakota Kalis, Jr., Gallaudet University
As Gallaudet's SAAC President, Kalis took the lead on several important projects. Kalis, a government major and a member of the Bison men’s basketball team, initiated the updating of the campus’ SAAC constitution and bylaws, which are now available electronically with many new additions. He also succeeded in leading Gallaudet's very first SAAC 5K to fundraise for deaf youth sports, which will now become an annual event. Kalis actively pushed for SAAC to become part of SBG's recognized organizations, while also meeting with the school’s provost to address concerns with scheduling conflicts for student-athletes. The Gallaudet SAAC became more vocal and recognized on campus and enjoyed success this year largely due to Kalis' leadership and commitment to the Gallaudet community.
Stephen Armstrong, Sr., Wells College
Armstrong, a psychology major and member of the Express cross country team, served as the Wells SAAC Vice Chair in addition to being the Vice President of the Collegiate Senate. Within SAAC, he led Wells’ NCAA Division III Week campaign for bottle and can donations, with all proceeds going towards the central New York chapter of Special Olympics. Additionally, Armstrong managed the Wells College SAAC Incentive Point Program, which encourages all Express student-athletes to become more engaged in campus events.
Kyle Magdziuk, So., SUNY Cobleskill
Magdziuk, a wildlife management major and member of the Fighting Tiger men’s lacrosse team, was chosen as the squad’s representative for SAAC based on his outstanding character and success in the classroom. Magdziuk was very active in the local community, serving as a volunteer for the past two years at the Patriot Highlander Challenge, a race that draws participants from across the country with the goal to raise and donate funds to benefit wounded veterans and selected support networks located in the New York Capital District Region and Northeast, specifically Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF). He has also volunteered several hours working at the New York Wildlife Rescue Center and the on-campus fish hatchery at SUNY Cobleskill, while being an active member of both the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Student Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Magdziuk has also thrived athletically, serving as a team captain and being named to the NEAC All-Conference Second Team after leading the conference in both groundballs and face-off wins.
Cailin Dunphy, Sr., Morrisville State College
Dunphy, a business administration major and member of both the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams for the Mustangs, served as the President for both the NEAC SAAC and Morrisville SAAC this past year. Dunphy spearheaded several community service events over the past year, including Christian's Cancer Crusade Days, where she organized multiple events such as Pie a Coach, Wear Red, and information table setups to help raise money for the family of a local nine year old courageously battling brain cancer. Dunphy also served as the speaker at Founder’s Day, which stresses the importance of community service, in addition to helping collect school supplies for the local elementary school. As a team captain for both squads she competed on, Dunphy also took the lead role in the "Go for the Goal" and "Veterans" games held by both field hockey and lacrosse.
Rebecca Nutt, Sr., Penn State Abington
Nutt, a corporate communications major and member of the Nittany Lion women’s lacrosse team, has been an integral member of the campus community and the department of athletics. Nutt served as a team captain for the past two years, as well as the SAAC Co-President this past year and an Orientation Leader on campus for two years. An influential member of SAAC for three years, Nutt helped lead changes within the organization that included the institution of additional student-athlete support and opportunities for student-athletes to become more engaged in service activities. She has been at the helm of helping feed the local community by servicing local food banks, food donation projects, and serving hot meals at food kitchens. Nutt was also the co-recipient for Abington’s prestigious Fred Striet Memorial Award, which is presented annually to a student-athlete who demonstrates leadership and character, pride in academics, and growth and perfection through sport. Additionally, Nutt is trained in Abington’s "Stand for State" Bystander Intervention training program.
Lindsay Achzet, Sr., Wells College
Achzet, a biochemistry and molecular biology major and a member of both the Express women’s basketball and lacrosse teams, was integrally involved on the Wells campus and surrounding local community that is sure to leave a lasting impact. Achzet served on the Collegiate Senate and Community Court while being the Chair of both SAAC and the Wells 4-H Club. Achzet, who has also served as a resident advisor and teacher assistant, was the recipient of the John D. Wilson-Ralph H. Poole Jr. Award, which is awarded annually to a member of the Wells senior class who, in the spirit of liberal arts education, has made a distinguished contribution during his/her four years to the athletics program at Wells College.
Taylor Foxworth, Jr., College of Saint Elizabeth
Foxworth, a psychology major and member of the Eagles’ women’s basketball team, made an impact on the Saint Elizabeth SAAC program as a transfer student this past academic year. As a representative, she took on the role of organizing campus events during NCAA National Division III Week while encouraging students and faculty to attend every event. Foxworth took full commitment of the Campus Cleanup event, which resulted in a great turnout from the rest of campus. Foxworth’s commitment this year resulted in her being elected by her peers as the campus’ SAAC President heading into 2016-17.
Tracy Anderson, So., SUNY Cobleskill
Tracy Anderson, a BT animal science major and integral member of both the women’s basketball and women’s golf teams for the Fighting Tigers, was very active on campus and in the community. Anderson, a two-year member of SAAC while being in high academic standing at Cobleskill, helped run a basketball clinic for local youth while also volunteering at the Cobleskill Golf and Country Club. She was also the recipient of a National Student-Athlete Award for achieving excellence in academics and athletics, while making significant contributions to the community.