2018 Fall Varsity Athletic Awards

Dec 07 2018

On November 30, the fall varsity athletics programs gathered to honor the athletes of the fall season. Awards were given for most committed, most improved, and most valuable athletes on each team.

The Most Improved Player Award is awarded to the athlete who displayed the greatest amount of improvement and growth in their skills which contributed to the success of their team.

The Bernie Ward Commitment Award is named after our beloved former faculty member, coach and colleague Bernie Ward is for the athlete who has displayed the most passion and commitment towards bettering themselves and their teammates during the season.

The Most Valuable Player Award is awarded to the athlete whose contribution to the team contributed most towards that team’s success during the season.

The Bernie Ward Commitment Award

Varsity Cheerleading

Kristen Erker

The Bernie Ward Commitment award goes to a young lady who has worked effortlessly to improve herself in all aspects of cheerleading. Kristen has a great work ethic and a positive attitude at each and every practice. She is one of the strongest backspots on the team and is always pushing herself and others to be better. She’s always ready to work with a smile on her face and we commend her for commitment to the betterment of herself and the team at practice each day. The Varsity cheerleading Bernie Ward Commitment Award goes to Kristen Erker. 


Boys Varsity Cross Country

Matthew Gornstein

Matthew Gornstein has always been a hard worker, fierce competitor, and driven. I have never seen a runner who has so dramatically changed over a four-year period. He has made me a believer that anything is possible with hard work. He is a great example of what we want all of our runners to be. He was a unanimous choice to be one this year’s Team Captains and to win this award. The Bernie Ward Commitment Award goes to Matthew Gornstein.


Girls Varsity Cross Country

Maya Richardson

This young lady knows long distance!

For four years and almost 12 seasons, this young lady has committed herself to a “passion of purpose” which has not only produced championship results and All-State accolades for her team and herself but has also won her the respect and admiration of fellow athletes all over the Metropolitan area. She commutes in from the east end of Long Island, and has not been late or missed a practice or meet in four years and nearly 12 seasons. We are honored to award the “Bernie Ward Commitment Award” to Maya Richardson.


Varsity Dance Team

Alyssa Ruggiero

This year’s Most Committed Award goes to a dancer who is an integral and influential part of the team, not only on the Varsity level. Even with injuries a few times this season, she has been invested in making our team better throughout the season. Her commitment to the team was most apparent not only on the dance floor, but in practice sessions as well. She was always willing and ready to try new dances and worked well with others to perfect her skills. When her coaches or teammates needed her, she was always there without hesitation. We are proud to have her as a member and captain of the Varsity Dance Team. This year’s Bernie Ward Commitment Award goes to Senior and Captain, Alyssa Ruggiero.


Varsity Football

Dan Wilson

The commitment of a player on your team can be seen in various ways.  One way is to see how much off season work for your sport that player puts in.  The other way is to see how much personnel sacrifice he will make for the good of the team.  This young man did both of those things to the extreme.  He came into camp in the best shape of his life.  He led by example through the tough conditioning and drill sessions. He played multiple positions for us as the need arose. One week we needed an offensive lineman, the next week we needed a blocking “H” back, another week we needed a flanker, all the while he was a standout middle linebacker.  This player was the most committed player I have seen in a long time. The winner of the Bernie Ward Commitment Award is Dan Wilson.



Boys Varsity Soccer

Charles Deaton

Chuck epitomizes what it means to be a “team player.” This season as Chuck had the expectations to continue his starting role in goal as a senior, the coaching staff chose to go with another goalkeeper for most of the season.  However, Chuck continued to work hard at practice, and the staff finally decided to start him vs. St. Anthony’s.  Chuck rose to the occasion to help the team win this crucial victory for playoff seeding.  This was to no surprise to the staff because Chuck is mature way beyond his age.  The coaching staff feels that it has been a privilege to work with such a fine young man. 


Girls Varsity Soccer

Caitlin McDonough

There is never a day that she does not show up with a smile on her face ready to work.  She has an endless amount of positive energy that she transmits throughout her entire team.  Over the past two seasons, Caitlin has been a key player for our varsity soccer team.  Each preseason she shows up in great shape and with her skills polished.  She always finds a way to push her teammates through her own exceptional play.  Caitlin has been a huge part of our defensive line and has helped our team become successful.  Her presence will be missed on the field and the team next year as she is graduating.  This year’s Bernie Ward Commitment Award goes to Caitlin McDonough.


Varsity Swimming

Shannon Pepe

Throughout the season, Shannon Pepe truly embodied the commitment that Bernie Ward showed during his time at Kellenberg. She not only came to every practice this year but also was the hardest working swimmer at every single one.  Shannon led her lane at practice, pushing herself to keep up with the swimmers in the faster lanes.  She never complained and swam any event we needed her to, even when it was not her best stroke.  Shannon was a pleasure to coach every single day because she wanted to improve her times and approached everything with a positive attitude.  Her dedication helped her to improve her times across the board and made her an essential member of the team this year.


Varsity Tennis “A”

Katherine Stewart

The Girls’ Varsity Tennis Team has been incredibly lucky to have this young lady since she was a freshman.  During the past three years, she has grown as a competitor and has led the team with exuberance and laughter unlike no other.

Junior Katherine Stewart has demonstrated a high level of play, good sportsmanship, a commitment to the team and sport throughout her three years as a Varsity level player!  She is a talented doubles/singles player who has played with different partners and has always provided positive encouragement and strategic advice.  Katherine’s talent and competitive edge helped earn her All-League Honors for the past two years and the 2018 State Doubles Champion title.  Off the court, Katherine has maintained academic successes, consistently maintaining Honor Roll status and representing the National Honor Society. But most importantly, Katherine always displayed an enthusiasm that was admired by her teammates and coaches.  On and off the court, her dedication to the team was unmatched.  Katherine Stewart is our choice for the Bernie Ward Commitment Award and there is no doubt she will continue to lead and dominate the courts throughout her senior year. 


Varsity Tennis “B”

Riley Martin

The most committed player for the Varsity B Tennis team was new to this sport yet incredibly driven. She intended not only to improve her game but to find ways to outsmart her opponents as well. This dynamic athlete looked forward to the challenges she faced in match play. She and her partner’s court was always an exciting match to watch. If her partner was frustrated, she cheered her on. Other coaches complemented her drive and determination. As her coach, I loved her enthusiasm. She always wanted to challenge herself in practice. She truly exhibits all the characteristics you could hope for in a Kellenberg athlete. This year’s Bernie Ward Commitment Award goes to Riley Martin. Congratulations on a job more than well done Riley!!


Varsity Volleyball

Krista Handler

The first step in grooming championship habits is preparation and training.  Of all of our players on the roster, Krista Handler stood out as one who put so much of herself into all aspects of preparation.  If the team held an off-season lifting session or an open gym workout, Krista was there.  If you scrolled down to see who watched the most game film throughout the season, Krista’s name was at the top.  If you needed someone to help at a youth clinic or CYO demonstration, Krista was the first to volunteer.  Indeed, when she injured her ankle mid-season at the Lindenhurst tournament, Krista arranged her PT schedule so that she wouldn’t miss any practice time, and even though she was hobbled during those practices, she was right there alongside the ball cart, feeding and shagging balls, encouraging teammates, and lending her energy in any way that she could.  For these reasons and for many more that go unseen and unmentioned, Krista Handler is the recipient of our Most Committed Player award.


Most Improved Player

Varsity Cheerleading


Gabby Quinones

The most improved Varsity cheerleader is a girl that has worked extremely hard in improving herself in all aspects of cheerleading. She has become one of the best flyers on our team and we are very confident in her stunting abilities. We have seen great improvement in her jumps as well as her tumbling. We are very happy to have this opportunity to recognize how far she has come as a cheerleader and how enjoyable she is to coach. This season’s most improved award goes to Gabby Quinones.


Boys Varsity Cross Country

Rolando Ramos

Rolando Ramos transformed himself this year from a good JV level runner to an All-League level runner. Thru hard work and determination Rolando improve his time by over a minute this year. This improvement led to him being our 2nd best runner for the entire season, except for the NSCHSAA Championship Meet where he was our top runner. This year’s Most Improved Runner Award goes to Rolando Ramos.


Girls Varsity Cross Country

Ceili Donnelly

Most Improved: This young lady “bought in” to the long-term approach for success in cross country running. She started her preparation in the heat of early July. Her longtime dedication resulted in going from not even making the JV “A” squad as a sophomore, to earning a berth on the Varsity Championship top seven squads this season. We are honored to award the “MIP Award to Ceili Donnelly.


Varsity Dance Team

Kelly McCutchan

This year’s Most Improved Player Award goes to a dancer who continually developed her technique and performance skills throughout the season. She is a valuable asset and incredible addition to the Varsity team. As the season progressed, she perfected her moves and adjusted her own dancing style to dance as one with her team members. She is always looking to improve and seeking the advice of coaches and captains in order to do so. We have seen her become a developed and gifted dancer. With her hard work ethic and practice, she excels in anything she does. This year’s Most Improved Player Award goes to Senior Kelly McCutchan.


Varsity Football

Zac Estrella

As a junior, this young man played a minimal role on our defense during the season.  Through his hard work in the offseason that included the weight room, 7 on 7 competitions, conditioning workout and film study, he transformed himself into a talented and skilled defensive back.  He started every game and played on most of our special teams.  The coaching staff was so impressed by his improvement that he was a unanimous choice for this award.  The Most Improved Player is Zac Estrella.


Boys Varsity Soccer

John Carroll

When you finish your junior campaign ranked twenty-second in the league in points and this season be ranked ninth, I would assume we all would think that this is an improvement?  John was a force to be reckoned with this year, as teams would have to plan defensively around his strong presence in the attacking third of the field.  John’s attacking ability was crucial in some of our key victories to secure another playoff run this year.  


Girls Varsity Soccer

Grace Cooper

Every successful athlete knows that speed, strength, and skill do not come from big games, but from the hard work at the practices beforehand.  Over the course of the season, this player has grown in nearly every aspect of her play.  At practice, she constantly pushed herself and her teammates in drills and her willingness to ask questions, work extra-hard at every practice, and learn from both her coaches and teammates has allowed her to develop into an excellent player. This year’s Most Improved Award goes to Grace Cooper.


Varsity Swimming

Colleen Hawkins

From the first day of tryouts to the last day of champs, Colleen Hawkins dedicated herself to becoming a faster swimmer.  She honed her skills and pushed herself at every practice to try to become faster.  Her motivation and hard work enabled her to improve in every event, however, her most impressive improvements have been in the 50 Breast, where she dropped 5 seconds, and the 100 Free, where she dropped an amazing 11 seconds!  We are so proud of what Colleen has been able to accomplish this year and look forward to many more years with her on the team!


Varsity Tennis “A”

Lydia Mercante

So many girls of the Varsity A Tennis team improved their skills during the 2018 season, but one young lady stood out.  Junior Lydia Mercante is our choice for Most Improved Player.  Throughout the past 3 years, Lydia has always been a top competitor playing singles and doubles, but this year she rose to the challenge.  Earning her spot as third singles in the lineup, she was undefeated through 4 matches.  When asked to move up, because of an unexpected injury of a teammate, she was ready.  Lydia played number one singles for Varsity A throughout the second half of the season, where she competed against the top singles players of AA & A League Divisions.  A very difficult achievement, that took great focus and athleticism.  With a league record of 4-1 and an overall record of 6-3, Lydia was awarded All-League Honors.  Her commitment to the sport and team were obvious, as she competed in outside tournaments, practiced with fellow teammates on weekends and gave positive instruction when asked.  Lydia also went on to compete in the NSCHSAA League Championships earning a spot in the semifinals where she battled the number one seed in a close contest only to lose by several points.  We look forward to watching Lydia continue to improve and dominate the courts during her senior year.


Varsity Tennis “B”

AnnaMaria Vargas

The level of play this team exhibited from the beginning of the season to the end was dramatically different. One player, however, continued to improve her game and was always ready and willing to play. At practice, we could put her with any partner without any complaints and she always had a smile on her face. She welcomed constructive criticism and wanted only what was best for the team. This athlete had a tremendous role on the team and played in many matches. Not only did she play doubles, but she played singles as well. She emerged victoriously in 2 doubles and 1 singles match. Her calm demeanor and determination is what set her apart from the rest. This award goes to AnnaMaria Vargas. Congratulations!!


Varsity Volleyball

Stephanie Conrade

There is no player on our roster who made greater strides this season than senior middle hitter, Stephanie Conrade.  A rookie to the game of volleyball, Steph went from asking about why the boundary lines on the court didn’t matter in pursuit of the ball to a starter who had to match up against the best hitter in the conference.  Her enthusiasm for the game, her competitive spirit, and her “team first” mentality added so much to our 2018 squad.  Our only regret is that we had a mere 12 weeks to work with this stellar athlete and person.  We wish her well as she continues her athletic career in softball at Molloy College.


Varsity Cheerleading

Olivia Binder

This season’s most valuable cheerleader is a young lady who is a true asset to the Varsity team. Her strength, positive attitude, and sense of humor make her a leader and role model for every girl on our team. She is an all-around cheerleader, with strong stunting skills, impressive tumbling, and beautiful jumps. We have watched this cheerleader work effortlessly throughout the season and we are extremely impressed with how far she has come. We look forward to watching her succeed and shine throughout our competitive season. This season’s most valuable cheerleader is Olivia Binder. 


Boys Varsity Cross Country

Liam O’Reilly

It is incredible to think that at the start of last year’s cross-country season Liam O’Reilly was one of the worst runners on the entire team. What a difference one year makes. Through hard work and determination, Liam has improved himself so much that without argument he is the best cross-country runner on the team. Liam received All-League Honors and narrowly missed qualifying for the New York State Championship Meet. This year’s Cross Country Most Valuable Runner goes to Liam O’Reilly. 


Girls Varsity Cross Country

Maureen Lewin

This young woman came off an outstanding junior year of track and field competition and led the effort of summer training and the path of persistence to a championship cross country season. As one observer eloquently put at the sight of her at the front of the path at the CHSAA Intersectional Championship Meet, “she was like the mother deer leading her blue, gold and white pack of determined Firebirds into the woods- all with one thing in mind- to be the very best they all could be.” Maureen Lewin was our team leader this season in the woods, in all races, and in the hearts of her teammates.


Varsity Dance Team

Nicole Baillie

This dancer has been on the dance team since her freshman year and we knew she would be a special young woman. From the start of her dance career, it was clear that she would be one of our most dedicated and strongest dancers. She possesses excellent leadership skills and is always willing to assist her teammates with learning new choreography for each dance. Her commitment to the dance program is unwavering. She is at every practice and is always willing to go above and beyond, especially to help her team and coaches. Her personality, demeanor, and sense of humor have made it a pleasure to have her on the team. This year’s Most Valuable Player Award goes to Senior and Captain, Nicole Baillie.


Varsity Football

Matt Sluka

This player is the returning MVP for the Varsity football team. He led the Firebirds to a second perfect 11- 0 record and a second straight CHSFL “AA” Championship.  He was an offensive machine, rushing for 1,131 yards with 22 touchdowns.  In the passing game, he was 74 for 101 for 1,203 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. He is a two-time CHSFL “AA” Offensive Player of the Year and a two-time first-team All-Long Island selection.  The Most Valuable Player for the 2018 Varsity football team is Matt Sluka.


Boys Varsity Soccer

Shane Salmon

Shane was the “cornerstone” of this team for the last two seasons.  He is the first two time MVP in the last ten years, earned both all-league and all-state recognition by the NSCHSAA, and he will be taking his talents next season to play for the Hofstra Pride.  Shane is the “complete package” and we as a coaching staff are proud of everything Shane has accomplished within his high school career. 


Girls Varsity Soccer

Paulina Valentine

This year’s most valuable player truly understands how one reliable, positive, and mature player can have an amazing impact on the entire team.  As a captain, this player is a leader both on and off the field. She has taken a personal interest in the improvement and success of the team and consistently leads by example.  The combination of her individual talent and her unselfish play has been instrumental in the team’s success. During the season, she repeatedly demonstrated her willingness to put the team’s interests before her own.  It is with great pleasure that the coaches name Paulina Valentine, as this year’s Most Valuable Player.


Carolyn DeFranco

Carolyn DeFranco is an exceptional swimmer who is the epitome of a Most Valuable Player.  She worked hard at every practice and supported her teammates throughout the season. Each meet, Carolyn earned valuable points that helped bring us to victory.  She was our go-to person any time we needed a swimmer to go head to head with the best people on the other teams, and she always came through.  At champs she truly excelled, finishing with top 5 times in the 200 IM and 100 Fly. Carolyn is dedicated, hardworking, and leads by action both inside and outside the pool. She has been an essential part of the team over the past two years and we will miss this talented swimmer greatly as she heads off to college next year!


Varsity Tennis “A”

Maggie Kutner

The success of Kellenberg Varsity Tennis was attributed to the overall fierce competitiveness and talent the team displayed during the season.  But, one young lady led the way, bringing a focus and determination, unlike any other athlete.  Sophomore Maggie Kutner is our choice for Most Valuable Player of 2018.  This is Maggie’s second year on the team, playing second singles since Freshmen year.  Soft-spoken, friendly and polite are what initially comes to mind when you meet her.  Talented and fierce soon come after.  Maggie is an exceptional tennis player, whose talent ranked amongst the top 4 singles players of the NSCHSAA.  With an undefeated league record of 5-0 and non-league record 7-2, Maggie has also been awarded All-League Honors.


She brings a genuine joy to the game and has embraced her position as a talented role model to all on the team.  Pairing up with a fellow friend and teammate, Maggie also competed in the NSCHSAA State Tournament, where they became the 2018 State Doubles Champions.  Her talent is obvious but the dedication she gives to Kellenberg and the sport go above and beyond.  There is no doubt we will witness many more great achievements from Maggie on and off the courts.   


Varsity Tennis “B”

Clarissa Perez-Pecchio

Selecting our most valuable player this season was very easy. On a team, you rely on the most valuable player to consistently come up with a win. This athlete went undefeated this season and she faced some very skilled opponents. She was incredibly sweet and humble and displayed excellent sportsmanship at all times. She was so encouraging of her teammates and always had a smile on her face. What I will remember most about her is that during our finals match, her neck was bothering her. She was choking back tears but insisted on finishing her match. She lost the 1st set narrowly after being down but came back to win the 2nd set and the super tie-break. She showed incredible strength and perseverance when her team was relying on her, you never let us down!!! Congratulations! You certainly earned this award!


Varsity Volleyball

Colleen Moulder

“Ambassador” is a word that is tossed about in government circles, denoting that person who promotes or champions a certain country, group, or ideology.  If I may, for a moment, shift the focus of that term away from diplomacy and to the world of athletics, I can think of no better ambassador for what is right about sports than senior Colleen Moulder.  Colleen plays with character, integrity, and honor at the forefront.  Never a self-promoter, she is always about “team” and the greater good.  Like the Parson in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Colleen adheres to the adage: “If gold rusts, what will iron do?”   Serving as our captain, Colleen was our number one compiler in blocks and our second-most generator in kills.  Her love for the game, her willingness to train outside of the season, and her ability to get along with her teammates are just three of the many gifts she brings to our program.  Without a doubt, Colleen Moulder is the best ambassador a coach could ask for.  Her teachers, her coaches, and her teammates love her because she inspires all of us to greatness.  We may be mere iron most times, but just being in her presence is purely golden.




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