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2020 Senior Athlete Awards

Photo of Le Mans Hall at Saint Mary's with text box overlay reading

Varsity Club Appreciation Award
- Mary Ann Merryman
Impact Player Award - Kendra Osinski
Leadership Award - Lily Brandt
Athletic Integrity Award - Shanan Hamilton
Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Alyssa Gutierrez
Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Katie Glenn
Donald Miller Belles Spirit Award - Kelsey Keilman
Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Athlete Award - Nicole Lukens

For a full video replay of the virtual 2020 Senior Athlete Awards ceremony, watch the event on our YouTube channel here.

Varsity Club Appreciation Award - Mary Ann Merryman

The Belles Varsity Club Appreciation Award is presented to a member of the Saint Mary's College community for extraordinary contribution to the Saint Mary's Department of Athletics.

Our student-athletes play a pretty intense game. You think all that they see is the person they are competing against across the net or the person guarding them on the court. You're wrong. They can often tell you who was in the stands and who they heard cheering for them.

Professor Mary Ann Merryman is one of those people that our student-athletes have noticed in the stands and have recognized as one of their biggest fans. She is deeply committed to our Belles in the classroom and in their competitive arenas. She has been one of our faculty members that our student-athletes regularly invite as their guest to our annual Athlete of the Week Luncheon. The student-athletes are asked to share a few words to speak to the impact their guest has had on them. These student-athletes' tributes praised her for her support and encouragement and for the interest that she took in them outside of the classroom. 2019 Basketball alumna and accounting major, Erin Maloney, stated in her athlete of the week tribute that, "Professor Merryman has been a huge supporter of athletics since I have known her. I could always count on seeing her in the stands at our home games and asking about how our season was going during our classes. I am so grateful to have had a professor like her during my four years here and want to say thank you for being such a great supporter to me in both basketball and accounting."  You would hear the same sentiment echoed by accounting majors and student-athletes alike – she has always been in their stands. 

What the student-athletes may not know is the behind-the-scenes time and commitment that Mary Ann has given to our athletic department. She has assisted us on several tennis coach searches. For at least ten years, Mary Ann has served as our Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) along with Professor Bill Svelmoe. Our FARs assist us in certifying the academic eligibility of our student-athletes prior to competition. This also requires of them to attend several league meetings each year and meet with the other FARs in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. These meetings mean full days away from the office and classroom and they are always around our finals – a pretty difficult time for a professor to be away from Saint Mary's! Between her and Professor Svelmoe, they would do some juggling and never failed to show for our 6:00 a.m. meeting departure time.

Professor Merryman has served as our faculty team representative for our tennis team since we started the faculty rep program in 2001. As a tennis player herself, the sport holds a special place in her heart. Our head coach, Dale Campbell, had this to say about her:

Before I came to Saint Mary's, I knew Mary Ann as her family was a "Tennis Family of the Year" at a local club where I worked. I was fortunate to teach all three of Mary Ann's kids and the whole family has loved the game of tennis. I landed here to coach, and was lucky to have her guidance as our faculty rep over the last 12 years. She has shared her passion for the sport with our team and has been there to support us for so many matches. She has always been there to help and encourage our student-athletes and has been very special to our program!

After teaching 35 years in the Department of Business Administration and Economics, Professor Merryman is retiring. Next year, while she may not be seen as often in the classroom, without a doubt - she will still be in the stands! It is with great honor that we present our 2020 Varsity Club Appreciation Award for extraordinary dedication and commitment to the Department of Athletics to Mary Ann Merryman.

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Impact Player Award - Kendra Osinski

Presented to the senior athlete who elevates the intensity and focus of a game beyond what statistics can measure.

For some student-athletes, the impact they have on their team is cut and dry. For others, what is needed from them to create an impact varies from year to year. And for other student-athletes still, that call of what is needed can change smack dab in the middle of the season.

While the description of this award mentions elevating the intensity and focus of a game beyond what statistics can measure, we would be remiss if we did not mention the career Kendra Osinski put together on the lacrosse field over the past four years. A two-time All-MIAA selection, Kendra is listed in the top four in program history in career goals, assists, and points. A team captain this spring, she was the first member of Saint Mary's lacrosse to win at least half of their games – or usually more – each of her four seasons as a Belle.

Beyond those personal accolades, however, is the student-athlete who stepped in to be the team's goalie when an injury to a teammate created a void. Kendra played eight games in goal during her sophomore season. Although she will be the first to admit that it was a difficult time for her personally, it was a choice that she did not hesitate to make. Her team needed her to step away from being a scoring threat on the offensive end and do her best to bring her same intensity to defending the 6-foot by 6-foot goal 100 yards on the other side of the field. While her statistics may not show up in the all-time record book, Kendra's goals-against average and save percentage would be in the top two single-season efforts among goalies with at least eight games played in a year. More importantly, that time in goal did more to galvanize her team as a whole. Kendra's willingness to step up drove everyone around her to step up their focus and effort. After finding their rhythm, the Belles put together the longest winning streak in program history with Kendra as the starting goalie in five of those six games. 

The sixth game of that winning streak, however, should not go unmentioned. In her first start as a field player in a month, Kendra drew a free position opportunity late in overtime on a windy and eventful game against Hope. Her other two shots of the game prior to that point were either saved or went high. As they say though, the third time's the charm as she scored the sudden-victory goal to keep the Belles undefeated in conference play to that point. It was the only game-winning goal of the 2018 season she scored.

One of the biggest ways Kendra impacted the lacrosse team these past four years is the intensity of her celebration of success - from pointing at the person who passed her the ball before she scored, to accidently dropping her own stick when a teammate scored because she was so excited to hug them. She celebrates the big moments - a teammate's first collegiate goal, a big save from our goalie, or her own goal to win a game in overtime - but she also celebrates the little moments. Her constant focus on the team success helped elevate the lacrosse program to a level beyond what just her statistics ever could. 

A native of Orange, Connecticut, Kendra is the daughter of Mark and the late Joan Osinski. She will earn her degree with a major in nursing and minors in biology and Spanish. After passing her certification test, she will work in a cardio-thoracic unit at Yale University Medical Center. We are proud to present the 2020 Impact Award to Kendra Osinski.

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Leadership Award - Lily Brandt

Presented for outstanding leadership, commitment, and dedication.

Having a distinction of being a leader is not a mantle that is merely passed on from person to person, nor is it a role that is bestowed purely based on what year you are or the magnitude of your statistics. Rather, leaders earn that title by the way they communicate, the awareness they show for both their own role and the importance of others' roles, and how they are able to build relationships within their team while working to clear their own personal hurdles day in and day out.

For Lily Brandt, her development into a team leader for the tennis program has been a labor of love over the past three years. After overcoming injuries and personal challenges, she transferred to Saint Mary's for a fresh start. While she did not play tennis right away, the sport she loved came back to her as a way to regain her inner strength.

Joining a team as a sophomore might be an intimidating concept for some, but the essence of what makes Lily a leader – those same qualities of communication, awareness, and relationship-building previously mentioned – allowed her to immediately become a valued member of the Belles tennis program. She worked hard on and off the court, in and out of the athletic training room, and was selected as the Most Improved Player by her teammates in 2018. The next year, she was the recipient of the Spirit Award as her level of play continued to grow. As a senior, Lily will be the first to share that she considered walking away – but her commitment to her team and to her own journey ensured her return to the tennis court. Elected a team captain by her fellow Belles, she shared that her focus was more on helping the team than whether or not she was in the lineup. Time and time again, her teammates saw and recognized what Lily brought to the tennis program. They believed in her, and she believed in them right back.

When Lily did take to the court, she always fought. No matter how her body cooperated, no matter who the opponent was on the other side of the net, and no matter what level of honesty with which that opponent did or did not make calls – Lily strived to play the sport the way it was meant to be played. The voice of the team, she was the "Brand" of glue that the Belles needed – a leader who was committed to her teammates every day. She has proven that being a leader is not a title given, it is an honor earned. Career stats and wins and losses do not define leadership – commitment, dedication, and contributing to something larger than yourself do. 

A native of Stevensville, Michigan, Lily is the daughter of Robert Brandt and Tami Brandt. She will earn her degree in communication studies. She then plans to go to cosmetology school. We are proud to present the Leadership Award to Lily Brandt.

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Athletic Integrity Award - Shanan Hamilton

Presented to the senior athlete who best exemplifies honesty and respect for herself, her teammates and opponents, and the competition itself.

Oftentimes, the idea of integrity includes the concept of what someone does when no one is watching – whether a moral compass will guide that person in the right direction when there is no external influence. This year, however, our recipient of the Athletic Integrity Award exemplified her true colors exactly when EVERYONE was watching. But for those who know Shanan Hamilton, her very visible act of integrity did not come as a surprise.

On a hot, humid, and blindingly bright Friday afternoon this past fall, the Saint Mary's cross country team competed in the University of Notre Dame's National Catholic Invitational. More than 20 women's teams from NCAA Division I, II, III, and NAIA Catholic colleges and universities from across the country took to the running paths that day. Shanan was one of seven Belles who competed in the championship 5k race. One mile into that event, teammate Angela Bannan had a 15-second lead on Shanan. At the 4k mark, that gap grew to nearly 30 seconds. And then something happened. Angela began struggling – to anyone present at the race, it was evident that the heat and humidity had affected her in the worst possible way. Struggling to continue forward and keep on her feet, Angela kept staggering ahead with less than a quarter of a kilometer to go. Somewhere between that 4k mark and the end of the race, more than 30 runners passed Angela – some well before that visible challenge of the final quarter of a kilometer, and some while the next event transpired.

Shanan caught up to Angela. She knew something was wrong, and she did not hesitate to help. Instead of going into a final kick to close out a physically challenging 5k on an incredibly hot day, Shanan came to her teammate’s aid. She wrapped her arm around Angela and worked to guide her ahead. There were stumbles and near-falls. Shanan adjusted how she was helping Angela as she grabbed ahold of her left hand and secured her arm more fully around her teammate. There were moments when both Belles likely doubted that the finish line would ever come within reach. With hundreds of spectators lining the chute – some shouting encouragement to the pair, others failing to hold back tears at the sheer emotion of the moment – the pair made it, and Angela was quickly tended to by the awaiting medical staff. To make that moment perhaps even more powerful is the fact that in the official results, Angela was listed with a finish one place ahead of Shanan. The results, however, did not matter. The need of a teammate was more important than any race result could ever mean for Shanan.

A native of Quechee, Vermont, Shanan is the daughter of Julie and Mark Hamilton. She will graduate with a degree in biology with a pre-veterinary focus and a minor in environmental studies. Her future plans include attending veterinary school. We are proud to present the 2020 Athletic Integrity Award to Shanan Hamilton.

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Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Alyssa Gutierrez

Presented for outstanding academic and athletic achievement and future promise as a Saint Mary's graduate.

Mary Ellen Smith served as our Dean of Students from 1986 – 1992. She was a dedicated leader, educator and avid supporter of all students during her tenure at Saint Mary's. She was especially supportive of the athletic department and of all student-athletes. Every student-athlete knew Mary Ellen. She was at our home events, award banquets, fundraisers, and would even assist in driving our teams to away contests. Through Mary Ellen's leadership and commitment to improving the athletic experience, she advocated for and oversaw the transition to our move from NAIA to NCAA Division III. Mary Ellen Smith passed away suddenly on June 1, 2015. To ensure that her contributions to Saint Mary's College Athletics will not be forgotten, we have re-named our academic and athletic achievement award in her honor.

Alyssa Gutierrez is one of the toughest third basemen our program has ever seen. A four-year starter played a big role in the record-shattering 2018 softball season which saw the Belles win their first regular season MIAA title, make the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance, and set records for most wins (36) and fewest losses (7) in a season. Alyssa has an uncanny ability to read her opponents and anticipate their next moves. She thinks nothing of creeping up on every batter, even sometimes when her coaches don't necessarily want her to do so! Third base can be a scary position for a lot of people – you are closer to the batter than almost anyone else on the field. Alyssa played fearlessly - with some swagger and confidence to boot!

Alyssa played in 131 games with 127 starts. Her fielding percentage improved each year and was never below a .900. She made fewer than 30 errors in nearly 390 opportunities. She is in the top ten in the past 15 years in sacrifice hits, which is impressive considering she often times was the number nine batter in the lineup. She has more putouts at third base than anyone else at that position in the past 15 years, and that includes a season well short of its potential this year.

Although not measured through statistics, the value of good leadership is priceless. This year, Alyssa and her fellow seniors on the softball team served as tri-captains – each bringing their very different leadership gifts to the table. Alyssa was the vocal leader. Her chatter on the field brought unity, intensity, and confidence to her teammates. Her energy helped to build momentum and hype on the routine plays as well as the big plays to spark and ignite her team.

The same intensity and focus that Alyssa has shown on the field was also applied in the classroom. Alyssa has never earned anything less than a 3.9 GPA. In fact, four of her last seven semesters have been perfect 4.0s. She has been named to the Dean's List every semester and will be a four-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll honoree. Alyssa has also been an NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete for three years. Her leadership and scholarship have served her department well in her roles as a Teacher's Assistant in both Clinical Psychology and Social Psychology.

While Alyssa is recognized amongst our Belles as "the student-athlete that lives the closest to campus", it should also be noted that she commuted to school every day, balanced a job, played softball and earned phenomenal grades! Alyssa is a shining example of how determination and drive not only make it all possible, but make it possible to excel.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Alyssa is the daughter of Jesus Gutierrez and Melissa Quimby. She will graduate from Saint Mary's with a major in psychology and minors in sociology and social work. Her goal is to become a clinical psychologist with a focus in developmental psychopathology. We are proud to present the 2020 Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award to Alyssa Gutierrez.

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Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award - Katie Glenn

Presented for outstanding academic and athletic achievement and future promise as a Saint Mary's graduate.

As a runner, you know the course will not always be easy. When you encounter obstacles in your path, you work around them. You may fall. You get back up. There will be hills. You dig in and climb. Once you have committed to the race, you run it.

This is Katie Glenn's mentality, and it is what drives her to succeed. Katie has managed through chronic injuries each season of her running career – painful injuries that would result in most people just calling it quits. To Katie, these are nothing more than obstacles in the path that she must find a way around. Her journey to her goals meant more rehab and treatment sessions with our athletic trainers. It also required her to rely on her own inner strength and determination to push herself through many hours of solo workouts on the stationary bike before she could fully train outside with her fellow cross country Belles; but, her hard work paid off!

Katie has consistently been one of the strongest performers on our cross country team. She has earned Athlete of the Week honors on multiple occasions. At Oberlin College during her senior season, she achieved a personal best time of 23:15 in the 6K (or, equivalent to running 6:14 pace for 3.73 miles!). Katie was a top two finisher on our team every time she competed during her junior and senior years; and, she earned a spot each of her four years to represent the Belles at the NCAA Regional meet.

Her academic successes are equally impressive! Katie carries a 3.9 cumulative GPA. Her last three semesters, she has earned a perfect 4.0. She has been named to the Dean's List every semester and will be a four-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll honoree. She has broadened her academic experience by studying abroad in Rome her sophomore year; and, last spring, she participated in the Washington, D.C. Program. While studying at American University in D.C., Katie was presented with the Outstanding Student Award in American Politics.

Katie has been a positive and involved campus leader. She has served as the cross country team captain for the past two years. She was an active member of the Sustainability Club and Friends with Sisters. Katie has been a four-year member of the Belles for Life Club; and, she has also served as their vice president since her junior year. Recognizing her leadership and character, she was selected to serve as a peer mentor as a senior by her professors.

This level of involvement and success takes incredible energy and drive. Katie’s accomplishments are all the more remarkable when you take into account that she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder last spring. Another hill to climb. And Katie does, what she does best: face the challenge, dig in, and climb.

A native of Avondale Estates, Georgia, Katie is the daughter of Robert Glenn and Susan Glenn. She will graduate with a double major in political science and philosophy and a minor in economics. After graduation, Katie will serve as a case worker with Catholic Charities in the Gabriel Life Project Center in Austin, Texas. We are proud to present the 2020 Mary Ellen Smith Academic and Athletic Achievement Award to Katie Glenn.

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Donald Miller Belles Spirit Award - Kelsey Keilman

Presented to the person who best exemplifies the winning spirit of the College's athletic programs.

In 2008, the Belles Varsity Club Award was re-named the Don Miller Belles Spirit Award in his honor as a longtime math professor and assistant softball coach for the Belles. His life was taken by pancreatic cancer, but his legacy lives on through the many lives he touched both in the classroom and on the softball field. Coach Miller displayed true dedication and passion for Saint Mary's College and her Belles. This award is presented each year at the Senior Athlete Awards Reception to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the winning spirit of the athletic program.

Sometimes, a person has to completely step away from something to fully realize their passion for it. That passion for softball is what brought Kelsey Keilman back home and helped her find her way to Saint Mary's. Since that homecoming, she has brought an undeniable spirit to the softball program that Coach Miller would have absolutely loved.

It did not take Kelsey long to make up for lost time in her year away from the game while attending Indiana University. She immediately stepped into a starting role as an outfielder and was the second hitter in a lineup full of talent. She was a big contributor to the success of the team each year, which included a massively record-breaking 2018 season for the Belles. Being surrounded by all-region and all-American talent for her first two years on the field, she emerged as a strong leader of her own right as a junior and carried that leadership forward through this season. Kelsey's statistics are remarkable – including a top ten all-time listing for career triples and a batting average that continued to climb throughout her career – but her contributions go far beyond the number of hits or diving catches in games. In fact, it is the things that will never find their way into a record book that are why Kelsey is deserving of this award.

For anyone who has watched Kelsey, she is always striving to give 100 percent – whether it is diving, sliding, running, catching for a pitcher – whatever her team needed to make them better collectively. Putting one's body on the line day in and day out takes that idea of exemplifying a winning spirit to a whole different level. For Kelsey, that meant never second-guessing the effort to make a play on the fieldhouse court or slicing her own forehead open while making a diving catch into the fence during a practice. For her, it is just instinctual. For her team, it is an injection of energy and effort that inspires them to want to achieve more. Unanimously, Kelsey was chosen as a team leader. Her fellow Belles have described her using phrases like "a model of servant leadership" and "puts the team before herself" and "supportive, friendly, and always willing to help". Quite simply, her winning spirit is reflected in her love of the game, her love of her team, and her love of seeing her teammates' success.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Kelsey is the daughter of Steve and Trish Keilman. She will graduate from Saint Mary's with major in nursing and minors in biology and Spanish. She plans on returning to Saint Mary's to enroll in our Doctor of Nursing Practice program while working full-time as a registered nurse. We are proud to present the 2020 Don Miller Belles Spirit Award to Kelsey Keilman.

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Marvin Wood Oustanding Senior Athlete Award - Nicole Lukens

Presented to the outstanding senior athlete.

In 2000, the athletic department named the Outstanding Senior Athlete Award in honor of Coach Marvin Wood. Coach Wood was an outstanding former basketball coach who finished out his career at Saint Mary’s College. His commitment, passion, and love for his athletes through the years inspired the nationally acclaimed movie, "Hoosiers" which highlighted the Cinderella basketball success story early in his coaching career. Coach Wood's former athletes say his passion, faith, dedication and commitment to his players made their athletic experience at Saint Mary’s a truly fulfilling and lifelong treasure for each of them. This year's recipient is the type of athlete that he would have been proud of!

From the time we are children, we are captivated by big numbers. Counting to 100 is a rite of passage; and any time we see 100, 500, 1000 of anything, we have an automatic response of awe. In sports, the mesmerizing nature of numbers is merely amplified. We look at those markers as milestones in a career, and whenever anyone – student-athlete or coach alike – reaches and surpasses big milestones, we celebrate. So when Nicole Lukens achieved that impressive 1000 in two categories in just three competitive seasons, we honor her as this year's outstanding senior athlete.

After one season at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, Nicole made the choice to transfer to Saint Mary's. While she rehabilitated from an injury in the spring of her freshman year, she attended the team’s non-traditional practices and got a glimpse of what the program and team were all about. When it came time for her to step back onto the court, she took full advantage of the chance to compete again. With one of the most balanced lineups in recent history, she was third on the team in kills behind a pair of First Team All-MIAA teammates. She set a then-program record for kills in a three-set match in the rally scoring era with 23 in a win over Franklin and was named MIAA Player of the Week.

In the 2018 season, Nicole exploded in both the kills and digs statistical columns. She became the third player all-time in program history to amass over 400 kills in a single season, and her 541 digs were the second-highest total by a non-defensive specialist player. She set both the Saint Mary's record and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association record for kills in a three-set match with 25 against Olivet.   

In her third and final season with the Belles, Nicole hit two impressive milestones. In just her 68th match, she reached the 1000-career dig plateau while averaging almost 15 digs per match. A little over a month later on Senior Night in a must-win match against Trine, Nicole put away a remarkable 20 kills in four sets to surpass 1000 career kills, and the Belles clinched a spot in the MIAA Tournament with a win. She became the seventh player in Saint Mary's volleyball history to amass 1000 career kills and 1000 career digs, and she was only the second player to accomplish the feat in just three years. She garnered MIAA Player of the Week honors and was an All-MIAA selection. For her career, she averaged 12 kills and 15 digs per match.

A native of South Bend, Indiana, Nicole is the daughter of Kim and Todd Lukens. She will earn her degree in business administration with concentrations in marketing and management. She plans to work in marketing management. We are proud to present the 2020 Marvin Wood Outstanding Senior Athlete Award to Nicole Lukens.

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