Dr. Jolene Koester Praises Cal State Northridge Scholar-Athletes

Dr. Jolene Koester Praises Cal State Northridge Scholar-Athletes

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Nearly 100 family and friends, faculty members, coaches, and University and athletic department personnel honored 39 outstanding Cal State University Northridge scholar-athletes for their success in the classroom in a ceremony on Monday evening at the home of University President Dr. Jolene Koester.

"These student-athletes do such an extraordinary job of maintaining the discipline necessary to practice, compete in games, and do great work in the classroom," said Dr. Koester. "We are honoring you today for your great work in the classroom. It gives me great pleasure to know of your commitment to the student part of the student-athlete equation."

The large gathering included Provost Harry Hillenbrand, Vice-President of Student Affairs Terry Piper, Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Aki Hirota, Vice-President for Administration and Finance Randy Harris, and Matador Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto.

"This group of student-athletes represents an ideal combination of excellence in the classroom and athletic competition," said Mazzuto. "In many ways, they present the best we have to offer, and serve as role models for other CSUN student-athletes and prospective students."

The scholar-athletes, who have completed a minimum of one season of varsity competition and have a minimum 3.2 grade point average for the previous two semesters, have been named to the 2007 Varsity 'N Academic Athletics Honor Roll.

The Cal State Northridge Athletic Department has held this annual event since 1982 to honor the academic excellence of their student-athletes. While the athletes participated in intercollegiate athletics, their ability to balance athletics and demonstrated academic excellence is highly regarded at Cal State Northridge.


The Varsity 'N Honor Roll recipients are student-athletes who have completed a minimum of one season of varsity competition and have a minimum 3.2 grade point average for the previous two semesters. The following comments were made by their coaches.

Before each student-athlete was honored by Dr. Koester and other University dignitaries, a short statement was read by master of ceremonies Bill Courtland on the high character of each recipient. Below is the text of their introduction. Because of prior commitments, Jessica Borges, Jackie Kecskes, Julie Flores, Isaac Kneubuhl, Mary Ortega, Kristin Smith and Jonathan Tan were unable to attend.


Alex Bardegeuz - Baseball, Senior, Coram, NY

Major: Marketing
"Out next inductee is special and as quoted by his coach is a true "gentleman" in the traditional sense. His demeanor goes beyond politeness and good manners. His "considerateness" emits from Alex in all that he does. He listens to others with an intent that makes the speaker feel as though their words and thoughts are of value and importance. He prioritizes the needs of those around him before his own."

Jessica Borges - Women's Soccer, Senior, San Jose, Ca
Major: Philosophy

Hillary Brinkman - Women's Volleyball, Senior, Camarillo, Ca
Major: Multimedia Productions
"Hillary is a two-year player for Cal State Northridge and a starter both seasons."

Taylor Canel - Men's Soccer, Senior, Sherman Oaks, Ca
Major: Communication Studies
"Taylor loves challenges and sets high standards for himself. He told our staff he would help take Cal State Northridge soccer to a place it has never been before and he did. He set a goal to be invited into the Varsity 'N which he also achieved. Taylor is an incredible role model for all of the student-athletes on the soccer team. He has big dreams for his career after Cal State Northridge to play in the MLS (Major League Soccer), the Olympics, overseas and eventually coaching at a high level. His hard work and determination are sure to get him there."

Chris Goodwin - Men's Swimming, Senior, Oakdale, Ca
Major: Cinema Television Arts
"Our next honoree enjoys writing and playing music. He is a sprinter in freestyle and butterfly on the men's swim team. He was also the swim team captain. He is a member of two record setting relay teams. He is a graduating senior."

Kevin Guppy - Men's Soccer, Sophomore, Chino Hills, Ca
Major: Criminal Justice
Kevin is a diverse student-athlete who excels in academics, music and athletics. In addition to all of his talents he is very loyal to his faith and family. These qualities have been a benefit to his teammates and the local community for which he serves as a high school soccer coach. After graduation and the completion of his soccer career he plans to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and become a fireman."

Crystal Hahs - Women's Basketball, Sophomore, San Clemente, Ca
Major: Deaf Studies
"This team player can be counted on for a tension breaker at the most opportune moment. She is a sophomore and a first year All Big West Conference Academic team member."

Kelley Hanson - Women's Volleyball, Sophomore, Moorpark, Ca
Major: Kinesiology
"A recipient of all Big West honors as a player this past season, Kelley has a bright future ahead of her."

Sarah Kahn-Shamout - Softball, Sophomore, Quartz Hill, Ca
Major: Biology
"Our next inductee is headed to the NCAA Regional Softball Tournament. She is the first person in her family to go to college, and she credits her parents goal-oriented approach to academics for her success."

Jackie Kecskes - Women's Soccer, Junior, Granada Hills, Ca
Major: English

Kathryn Kerr - Women's Swimming, Sophomore, San Diego, Ca
Major: Kinesiology
"Kathryn Kerr is a hard-working student-athlete who has been one of the leaders on the women's swimming team. She is a young woman with a bright future."

Simone Luker - Women's Swimming, Sophomore, Adelaide SA, Australia
Major: Broadcast Journalism/Political Science
"Although only a sophomore, Simone has etched her way into the school record book with Top 10 tops in several events including the 200 breast and 400 individual medley."

Kevin Nious - Men's Track & Field, Junior, Alameda, Ca
Major: Television Production
"Out next inductee has been identified as the most inspirational on his team. With his great work ethic, the coaching staff would like to fill an entire team with student-athletes like this student-athlete."

Kayli Sanders - Women's Track & Field, Baytown, Tx
Major: Business Administration
Kayli is a two-year member of the track & field team. She works as a mentor and tutor for other student-athletes. She is a member of the Business Honors program, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars."

Caren Sperry - Women's Track & Field, Simi Valley, Ca
Major: Kinesiology
"With the longest "Hiiiiii" on the team, her teammates know when she has arrived on the scene. Her bubbly and energetic personality keep her and those around her motivated to excel."

Jonathan Tan - Men's Track & Field, Junior, Granada Hills, Ca
Major: Kinesiology

Colleen Tobin - Women's Volleyball, Senior, Forest Park, Il
Major: Kinesiology
"After spending much of her first two years finding her way, this student-athlete had an exceptional year in the classroom and on the volleyball court."

Sandra Velarde - Women's Track & Field, Freshman, San Fernando, Ca
Major: Spanish Language and Culture
"Sandra originally grew up speaking Spanish in her home. She is using this expertise in her major."

Erica Walemade - Women's Water Polo, Freshman, Westminster, Ca
Major: Undeclared
"When I think of "Walty," I think of the ultimate team player, a player who sacrifices daily for her teammates, and will do whatever it is we need her to do to make the team better. She is one of the most coachable, easy-going players we've ever had and always has a smile on her face. We always say we wish we had ten more "Walties" on the team because of her laid-back unselfish nature."


Jessica Beach - Women's Track & Field, Junior, Olympia, Wa

Major: Pre-Med/Biology

"Our next inductee is the track & field's resident "team mom." Always willing to help others, whether in the classroom or on the track, this inductee has been mentor and tutor to many of her teammates."

Megan Ching - Women's Basketball, Senior, Basketball, Honolulu, Hw
Major: Biology

"Four consecutive years of being an academic and athletic dream for her team, this student-athlete earned back-to-back Big West Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors and is again on the All Big West Conference Academic team. She is planning on a career in pharmacology."

Diana Daltorio - Women's Swimming, Senior, Monterey Park, Ca

Major: History
"According to her coach, this honoree doesn't say much but her actions speak very loudly. Her desire to constantly improve is quite evident by her work ethic in the classroom and in the pool. Being a member of the season-best 200 freestyle relay team is an example of her commitment toe the team. Her future plans include pursuing her teaching credential."

Lucy Davies - Women's Golf, Junior, Northridge, Ca
Major: Journalism/Broadcasting
"Lucy is a team leader and team representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. This student manages to keep herself extremely busy. Somehow she has still managed to find time to accept an internship at Fox Sports Radio this summer."

Sarah Freitag - Women's Swimming, Junior, Manhattan Beach, Ca
Major: Communicative Disorders
"Our next inductee has always planned ahead and will be graduating in just three years. She is an individual who always places the needs and interests of others before her own. She makes a great teammate and is a very balanced person. She also spends time volunteering through her church. She has won the Dean's Award from the College of Health and Human Development."

Julia Flores - Women's Track & Field, Senior, Reseda, Ca
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Mallory Gonzalez - Women's Golf, Sophomore, Granada Hills, Ca
Major: Kinesiology

Brett Grunert - Men's Swimming, Senior, Menomonee Falls, Wi
Major: Civil Engineering
"Brett is a member of the University's civil engineering club. He is leading the team that is hosting this month's National Steel Bridge competition involving teams from 43 different schools."

Katie Holloway - Women's Basketball, Junior, Lake Stevens, Wa
Major: Sociology
"An All Big West Conference Academic team member, our next inductee was also named the 2006 Big West Conference Sixth Woman of the Year. Basketball is not her only expertise. She is also a member of the USA Para-Olympic Volleyball team. Between practice, class and student time, she finds time to be a mentor and tutor and if that is not enough she is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and will represent Cal State Northridge at the NCAA Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida, later this summer."

Isaac Kneubuhl - Men's Volleyball, Junior, Pukalani, Hi
Major: Kinesiology

Katarzyna Krasinka - Women's Tennis, Senior, Otwock, Poland
Major: Psychology
"Katarzyna is co-captain of the tennis team. This inductee constantly puts the team first. She understands the seriousness of her roll and Coach Victor says she always tries to do what's right not what's popular. With her parents in Poland where her father is a doctor, she is grateful not only for the opportunity to play tennis, but also for the opportunity to be pursuing a college degree in the U.S."

Sonya Kumar - Women's Tennis, Senior, Amber Gardens, Singapore
Major: Kinesiology
"Her coach says he's never heard a bad word and when asked, she said her parents wouldn't appreciate it. Her nickname is 4.0 which should give you an idea of the kinnd of overachiever we are talking about."

Suzanne Mischenko - Women's Soccer, Junior, Arcadia, Ca
Major: Kinesiology
"In the summer of 2004 this inductee went to Thailand to spend three weeks building a water system and then went back for an additional three weeks over the holiday break to help complete the project. She is a captain on the women's soccer team and is well respected by her teammates."

Devon Nizich - Women's Soccer, Senior, San Pedro, Ca
Major: Apparel Merchandising
"Playing hard and living hard does not keep this student-athlete from stepping forward to help others. She is a volunteer at the boys and girls club, and she also mentors and tutors other student-athletes. She works hard during the academic year to make time for her travel ventures that fill her summers. This summer she will be a part of a group of Cal State Northridge soccer alumni who will visit Europe and Asia to conduct soccer camps for the U.S. Navy."

Mary Ortega - Women's Soccer, Junior, Saugus, Ca
Major: Liberal Studies

Cody Pearce - Men's Track & Field, Sophomore, Folsom, Ca
Major: Kinesiology
"Our next inductee is called "Dad" by his teammates. He is the guy you want to see hanging around when you need help. He brings discipline of his Martial Arts background to the track and the classroom, and continues to excel in both areas."

Diana Rosete - Women's Track & Field, Senior, Costa Mesa, Ca
Major: Sociology
"Our next inductee is a three-year member of the track & field team, and she means it when she says family comes first. Helping her family in Orange County as much as possible, this student-athlete deals with her younger brother's debilitating illness on a daily basis. She is described as one of the most dedicated members of the team. She is a first generation college student with a genuine appreciation for the opportunity to pursue her college education."

Manuel Ruiz - Men's Track & Field, Senior, North Hills, Ca
Major: Spanish Language and Culture
"Perseverance and a great attitude will guarantee our next inductee continuous life success. He loves anything that goes fast, which is why he has his eyes set on becoming a fighter pilot."

Kristin Smith - Women's Golf, Senior, Moorpark, Ca
Major: Business Finance
"Our next inductee exhibited excellence in leadership and community. She is a volunteer for the SPCA. She trains and cares for animals at the shelter. She is also involved in the foster care program - she brings sick animals home and nurses them back to health so they can be adopted. She also volunteers at the Oxnard Mission - feeding the homeless, stocking food shelves and whatever needs to be done."

Eric Vance - Men's Volleyball, Sophomore, Camarillo, Ca
Major: Undeclared
"Our next inductee helps his family raise and train dogs for the Guide Dogs of America. In his spare time he likes to play video games, watch tv, and wakeboard."

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