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Student-athletes honored at fourth annual 'Purple Eagle Award Show'


NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The Niagara University Department of Athletics staff, coaches and student-athletes hosted the Fourth Annual Purple Eagles Award Show on Thursday evening at the Rapids Theatre.
The event combines the traditional student-athlete banquet with an ESPY-style format where student-athletes receive accolades for their performances during the season.
The hosts for the evening were Joel Gerberich (Men's Soccer) and Adila Gathers (Women's Basketball). The duo was joined by a variety of student-athletes, who helped deliver 25 awards during the evening's festivities.

Former Niagara baseball player and current strength and conditioning coach Matt Wietlispach won the first award of the evening as the 2018 Coach of the Year. Director of Athletics Simon Gray handed out the final award of the evening, "The Believe NU Award", to head hockey coach Jason Lammers, who accepted it on the behalf of hockey senior Derian Plouffe.
The complete list of award winners is below:
Coach of the Year – Matt Wietlispach (Strength & Conditioning)
Community Athlete of the Year – Morgan Genovese (Softball)
Best Play of the Year – Sean King (Game-winning overtime goal vs. RPI with one second remaining)
Male Scholar Athlete Award – Daniel Ronen (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Female Scholar Athlete Award – Eva Bachmann (Women's Soccer)
Male Team with Highest GPA – Men's Cross Country
Female Team with Highest GPA – Women's Basketball
Newcomer of the Year – Brian Wilson (Hockey)
Team of the Year – Women's Volleyball
Individual Performance of the Year –  Victoria Rampado (Women's Basketball)
Most Improved Performance (Men) – Tanner Lomsnes (Hockey)
Most Improved Performance (Women) – Jai Moore (Women's Basketball)
Purple Pride (Women) –  Jerri Orfano (Softball)
Purple Pride (Men) – Joel Gerberich (Men's Soccer)
Comeback Athlete of the Year – Derian Plouffe (Hockey)
Unsung Hero – Cody Eckerson (Baseball); Marvin Prochet (Men's Basketball); Victoria Rampado (Women's Basketball); Spencer Swoboda (Men's Cross Country); Nora Klinowski (Women's Cross     Country); Ben Conroy (Men's Golf); Sydney Shaw (Women's Golf); Joe O'Brien (Hockey); Lauren Paul (Women's Lacrosse); Drew Francisco (Men's Soccer); Sophie Connor (Women's Soccer); Sarah Trifoso (Softball); Nick Rogers (Men's Swimming & Diving); Hannah Charlton (Women's Swimming & Diving); Jason Wisely (Men's Tennis); Ali Hutchinson (Women's Tennis); Maggie Rogers (Women's Track & Field); Nicole Matheis (Women's Volleyball)
Upset Of the Year – Women's Basketball over Buffalo
Best Season Start (Spring Sports) – Women's Tennis
Best Moment in NU Athletics – Hockey earning first national ranking since 2013
Community Team of the Year – Softball
Best Team Player – Kaylee Stroemple (Women's Basketball)
Athletes 4 Athletes – Men's and Women's Swimming & Diving
Purple Eagle Award – Josh Dumbleton (Game Operations/Women's Basketball Team Manager)
Comeback Win of the Year – Women's Soccer vs. Canisius at MAAC Championships
Taps Gallagher Award – Pete Battaglia (Baseball); Matt Scott (Men's Basketball); Jamie Sherburne (Women's Basketball); Ben Slate (Men's Cross Country); Sarah Grubbs (Women's Cross Country); Matt Lesinski (Men's Golf); Allison Emborsky (Women's Golf); Nick Farmer (Hockey); Sam Brill (Women's Lacrosse); Moe Tshuma (Men's Soccer); Eva Bachmann (Women's Soccer); Sierra Bertrand (Softball); Thomas McManus (Men's Swimming & Diving); Brianna Smith (Women's Swimming & Diving); Taylan Ozdemir (Men's Tennis); Andreea Peteu (Women's Tennis); Maggie Doyle (Women's Track & Field); Meghan Higley (Women's Volleyball)
Men's Purple Heart Award – Tanner Morrey (Men's Swimming & Diving)
Women's Purple Heart Award – Annie Eckhardt (Women's Swimming & Diving)
Faculty Appreciation Award – Rev. Joseph G. Hubbert, C.M., Ph.D.
Vincent O'Malley Male Student-Athlete of the Year – Kahlil Dukes (Men's Basketball)
Vincent O'Malley Female Student-Athlete of the Year – Victoria Rampado (Women's Basketball)
The Believe NU Award – Derian Plouffe (Hockey)

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