The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) celebrated the accomplishments of its student-athletes during the 2020-2021 year at the college’s annual athletic banquet, which was held virtually and aired last month.
The student-athletes were commended for the flexibility and extra effort they exemplified as they worked to succeed during a pandemic year with all its additional challenges.
“We truly appreciate the effort and work that you athletes and coaches have put into this year,” said CSM Vice President of Student Equity and Success Dr. Tracy Harris. “This is a year where we want to celebrate you for all the hard work and all the effort that you put into making this season a success.”
“It’s been a very challenging year on so many levels,” said CSM Dean of Student Development Michelle Ruble.
Three major program awards were announced during the event. The title of Female Athlete of the Year was awarded to Rachel Polk of Great Mills, a member of CSM’s Women’s Softball team. During her career with CSM, Polk started at shortstop for all of her 44 games, and she held down the defense with a fielding percentage of .916 percent. She tallied a career total of 61 putouts and 81 assists, and her career batting average is .370.
Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to pitcher Dylan Bell of Waldorf. Bell led the Hawks Baseball team in several pitching categories – wins, completed games, innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA. He accumulated the most wins by a CSM pitcher in any given season over the last 10 years.
Justin Miller of Huntingtown, a sophomore midfield/striker on the Men’s Soccer team, was honored as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earning a 3.85 GPA at CSM.
“He was extremely hard working and was an outstanding role model for his team,” said CSM Assistant Director of Student Life and Athletics Sarah Williams.
In addition, individual awards were given to other standout athletes on each of the six CSM teams participating in the banquet.
CSM’s Men Soccer team “struggled a bit,” according to Head Coach Gary Knight. The team sometimes had trouble getting enough healthy players on the field, Knight said. The situation required some athletes to play out of their regular position to fill out the team. It was this kind of sacrifice and flexibility, along with notable commitment and responsible attitudes, that caused two players to be particularly honored this year.
The MVP Award went to freshman Lorenzo Cappa of West Lawn, Pa., who played midfield/defense for the Hawks. Cappa, a captain on the team, “worked hard every day both on and off the field,” Knight said. Cappa moved to center/defense when the team needed it and helped run practices and set up drills with Knight and ran warm-ups for the team.
Sophomore Joseph Walsh of La Plata, a goalkeeper, was honored as the team’s Defense Player of the Year. “One of the more consistent players on the field,” Knight said, Walsh was quiet and “let his actions speak louder than his words.” Walsh was always one of the first at practice and one of the last to leave, his coach said.
The team was also led this season by Assistant Coach Rob Romero. The Hawks ended with a 2-8 record.
CSM’s Women’s Soccer team was coached by Charlie Raphael in his first year with the team. The pandemic played havoc with the team’s schedule, with only five games surviving a slew of cancellations.
The team ended with a winning 3-2 record, however, signaling a “positive and bright future” for the team, Raphael said.
The team’s Offensive Player of the Year went to Kaleigh Venis of Prince Frederick, a freshman midfielder. Her performance off and on the field, Raphael said, won her a full-ride scholarship to Catawba College, a Division II school in North Carolina. “She signifies everything we are trying to do,” Raphael said of Venis.
The Most Outstanding Player Award went to Micaiah Lloyd of Waldorf, a freshman who played midfield for the Hawks.
Venis was also named to All MD JUCO First Team and All-Region XX DII First Team. And Lloyd was named to the All MD JUCO Second Team. In addition, Karsyn Dodson of Waldorf, who played midfield, was named an All-Region XX DII Honorable Mention.
The CSM Hawks Baseball team earned its way to the Region XX DII Tournament this year, the first time the team made it to the regional playoffs since 2014. Head Coach Aaron Michael, in his first year in the position, noted that each of his players “had a dedication to improving every day.”
That attitude took the team far this year and bodes well for the next. “The players have left behind a legacy of hard work for our 2022 team to carry on next year,” Michael said.
In team awards, Jordan McKenzie of Waldorf was honored as Outstanding Offensive Player. “He led the team in several offensive categories,” Michael said, “including runs scored, runs batted in, home runs, slugging percentage, and second in stolen bases. … He accumulated the most home runs of any CSM player on any given season over the last 10 years, despite the team playing a shortened season.” McKenzie will play Div. I ball at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore next year.
The Outstanding Pitcher award went to Dylan Bell. “He was the ace of the pitching staff,” Michael said of Bell. “He accumulated the most wins by a CSM pitcher in any given season over the past 10 years,” leading the team this year in wins, complete games, strikeouts, innings pitched, and ERA among starting pitchers.
Player Eli Wilhelm of Waldorf was also noted as an All MD JUCO Honorable Mention.
Michael was assisted in coaching by Todd Snell and Brad Sullivan. The team’s final season record was 13-20.
The Women’s Softball team finished fourth in the region this year, dealing with the season’s unusual challenges that included a limited playing schedule and the switch to online learning with a great deal of grace, according to Head Coach Rebecca Collins.
Freshman Gabriella Cross of Bryantown, who played second base and pitched for the Hawks, was named this season’s MVP.
“Taking on the transition full force was Gaby Cross,” Collins said. “Gaby ended her freshman year on the dean’s list; led our offense this year with a batting average of 449, with 18 stolen bases which she was never caught … 20 runs scored; a perfect fielding percentage that consisted of 31 putouts and 21 assists.
“She is a leader on and off the field,” Collins said.
Most Improved honors went to freshman first baseman Aleah Davis of Brandywine. “She ended the season with a perfect fielding percentage, and she transitioned from an infielder to an outfielder with style and grace,” Collins said. “I have had the privilege of coaching this selfless athlete for two years and there is no one like her. Her unwavering support of her teammates and her spirit keep this team alive in its darkest moments.”
Other individual honors from softball include Cross, Devin Ruble of Cobb Island, and Kaela Gilligan of Bryans Road being named to All MD JUCO First Team, and Ruble being named to All-Region XX DII First Team, and Cross earning an Honorable Mention. Both Emily Sloskey of Chesapeake Beach and Jaden Vermillion of Huntingtown was named to All MD JUCO Second Team.
The Hawks’ final season record was 7-10. Amber Whelan is the team’s assistant coach.
CSM’s Golf team celebrated an undefeated season this year. Player of the Year honors went to freshman Jack Koch of Issue, whose achievement reflected his unwavering commitment to the game, according to Head Coach Erik Koch.
“He led the team in scoring average for the entire year, and he also finished second in the final standings of the JUCO championship,” Erik Koch said. Jack Koch also competed at the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament.
Most Improved honors went to freshman Jack Gleason of La Plata. “His personality is contagious on and off the field,” Erik Koch said. “He had the most improved scoring average for the team this year.”
Golf team member Ryan Graves of Waldorf finished third in the MD JUCO season standings.
The CSM Golf team is also led by Assistant Coach Layne Ponder.
CSM’s Men’s Lacrosse was led by Head Coach Stephen Campbell, who commended his players for their perseverance during a tough season. “COVID beat us up … These guys stuck with the program. They came to practice. I think the effort they showed is something I will always remember,” Campbell said.
Members of the lacrosse team voted for their team award winners, naming freshman James Sulhoff of Huntingtown the Offensive Player of the Year for his work playing midfield. “He was the team’s leading scorer, with 18 goals,” Campbell said, noting that eight of those goals were in a single game.
Freshman DeTron Dancy of Indian Head was voted Defensive Player of the Year. “He was usually paired up against the top attackmen of the opposing team,” Campbell said.
Most Improved honors went to freshman Angel Aponte of Prince Frederick, who played midfield. This season was Aponte’s first experience playing team lacrosse, and Campbell said his teammates took note of his desire to learn the game and to get better every time he stepped on the field.
The team voted to award Overall MVP honors to freshman goalkeeper Ian Campbell of Prince Frederick, who had double-digit saves in all six of the team’s games, including 25 saves in a single game against Harford Community College. “Just an incredible effort,” Campbell said.
The team ended the season with a 1-5 record. Robert Cusack served as an assistant coach, along with volunteer assistant coaches Billy Edge and Joseph Purcell.