Holy Cross Varsity Club Holds Annual Banquet
WORCESTER, Mass. – The Holy Cross Varsity Club announced its yearly awards at its 62nd annual banquet, held on Saturday, May 6, at the Hogan Campus Center. Leading the way was senior Mandy Sifferlen of the volleyball team, who was selected as the 2016-2017 Crusader of the Year. In addition to presenting its annual student-athlete awards, the club also inducted seven new members into the Hall of Fame: Maureen Flanagan (Class of 1988, tennis), Maggie Fontana (Class of 2005, basketball), Jack O'Connor (Class of 1963, track and field), Kate O'Shaughnessy (Class of 2002, soccer, basketball), Keith Simmons (Class of 2007, basketball), James Sixsmith (Class of 2007, ice hockey) and the Rev. Anthony J. Kuzniewski, S.J. (athletic chaplain, honorary).
Senior outside hitter Mandy Sifferlen, a member of the volleyball team, has been selected as the 2016-2017 Crusader of the Year. Sifferlen earned first team All-Patriot League honors during the 2016 season, after previously being a second team selection in 2014 and 2015. As a senior, she led the team with a school-record 497 kills, 305 digs and 40 blocks, to go along with a .244 hitting percentage. Sifferlen finished her career with 1,344 kills, 866 digs and 144 blocks, ranking second all-time at Holy Cross in career kills. She was also a three-time selection to the Academic All-Patriot League team, while being named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll four times. The vice president of Holy Cross' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a three-year member of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, Sifferlen was also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Students for Responsible Choices and the Campus Advisory Board on Alcohol.
Senior Isabela Bagi from the women's ice hockey and tennis teams is the recipient of the John A. Meegan Athletic Achievement Award. A two-sport team captain, Bagi earned All-Conference honors in ice hockey three times (2014, 2016 and 2017), in addition to being a two-time All-New England selection. She was also chosen to the New England Hockey Conference All-Academic team and the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. As a senior, Bagi ranked sixth on the ice hockey team in scoring with 14 points on four goals and 10 assists, despite missing half the season due to injury. She also led a defense which allowed 1.44 goals per game on the season, and finished her career with 80 points on 26 goals and 54 assists. In tennis, she posted career records of 18-30 in singles and 23-44 in doubles.
Senior wide receiver Jake Wieczorek, a member of the football team, received the John P. Cooney Memorial Award, which is presented to a senior letterwinner who has performed beyond all expectations with courage, loyalty and dedication. During his junior season, Wieczorek was well on his way to earning All-Patriot League honors before suffering a separated shoulder against Fordham. Instead of having surgery, he was back on the field three weeks later to help the team succeed. His individual statistics may have suffered, but he played a key role in helping the Crusaders win their final two games of the year to finish with a 6-5 overall record. Wieczorek came back as a senior to earn third team All-America and second team All-Patriot League honors. He caught 55 passes for 705 yards and five touchdowns, in addition to averaging 22.1 yards on 35 kickoff returns and 13.7 yards on 23 punt returns. Over the course of his collegiate career, Wieczorek caught 148 passes for 2,029 yards and 16 touchdowns, while totaling 3,629 all-purpose yards. He finished his career ranked sixth all-time at Holy Cross in receiving yards, seventh in all-purpose yards, eighth in receptions and 10th in touchdown receptions. Also a standout in the classroom, Wieczorek was selected as the 2016 Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, in addition to earning Academic All-Patriot League and CoSIDA Academic All-District honors three years in a row.
Senior forward Madelyn Ganser, a member of the women's basketball team, has been selected as the recipient of the Daniel Allen Sportsmanship Award. The Allen Award was established in 2005, and is presented to the Holy Cross varsity athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship that coach Allen exhibited throughout his life. Ganser, who was the only senior on the women's basketball team, spent countless hours in the gym working on her game over the last four years. She fought through a nagging back injury throughout her senior season to stay on the court and do all she could to help the team succeed. Ganser also served as the team's community service coordinator, and has been involved with Working for Worcester, the UMass Memorial Cancer Walk, Action for Education, Team Impact, the Mercy Centre, Sherry's House, the Lahey Clinic and the Parsons Hill Nursing Home. On the court, she played in all 30 of the team's games with 26 starts this year. Ganser ranked second on the team with 140 rebounds, in addition to scoring 88 points. She finished her four-year career with 225 points and 289 rebounds in 102 games played. Ganser was also a two-time selection to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.
HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
Maureen Flanagan was a four-year starter on some of the best women's tennis teams Holy Cross has ever produced, during the mid to late 1980s. She led the team to an overall record of 44-8 during her four years, with the Crusaders winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in 1986 and finishing second in 1984, 1985 and 1987. Flanagan finished her four-year career with an overall singles record of 45-6, and an 18-9 mark in doubles. She won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title at No. 3 singles as a freshman, and finished as the conference runner-up five other times – twice in singles and three times in doubles.
Maggie Fontana was an outstanding player for the Crusaders from 2001-2005. She was named first team All-Patriot League in 2003 and 2005, while being a second team All-Conference selection in 2004. Fontana was also selected as the Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2003, and the Patriot League Rookie of the Year in 2002. She totaled 1,575 points, 768 rebounds, 420 assists and 251 steals while playing in 119 career games, and ranked third all-time at Holy Cross in steals, fourth in rebounding, fifth in scoring and seventh in assists at the time of her graduation. Over the course of her four-year career, Fontana led the Crusaders to an overall record of 80-42 with the team winning the Patriot League regular season title three times (2002, 2003, 2005) and the Patriot League Tournament championship twice (2003 and 2005). She also guided the Crusaders to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2005 and the school's first and only Women's National Invitational Tournament appearance in 2002.
Jack O'Connor was a star member of the track and field squad for the Crusaders during the early 1960s. He specialized in the distances of 440 yards and 880 yards, and was also a key member of several outstanding relay teams. During his senior year, O'Connor ran a leg on teams which set school records in the indoor one-mile relay (3:18.0) and the outdoor one-mile relay (3:12.6). He also ran a leg on the indoor two-mile relay team, which broke the school record in 1963 (7:32.6), and was part of the two-mile relay team which won both the AAU and IC4A titles during his sophomore season in 1961. As a senior in 1963, O'Connor was a key part of the Holy Cross team which won the New England outdoor championship.
Kate O'Shaughnessy was a four-year starter on the Holy Cross women's soccer team from 1998-2001. She is the only player in school history to be named All-Patriot League four times, as she earned second team accolades in 1999 and first team honors in 1998, 2000 and 2001. A selection to the Patriot League 25th Anniversary team, O'Shaughnessy guided the Crusaders to three consecutive 10-win seasons and Patriot League Tournament appearances in 1998, 1999 and 2000. She was named third team All-New England during her senior season, and also led Holy Cross to its only NCAA Tournament appearance and Patriot League Championship in 2000. O'Shaughnessy finished her career with the most assists in program history (20) and ranks third in career goals (30) and career points (80). She also walked on to the women's basketball team for one season in 1998-1999, playing in 20 games on the hardwood.
Keith Simmons was a star player for the Crusader men's basketball team from 2003-2007, and was selected to the Patriot League 25th Anniversary team. He was named the Patriot League Player of the Year and the Patriot League Tournament MVP in 2007, while leading Holy Cross to the 2007 Patriot League championship. Simmons was also selected to the All-Patriot League first team three times (2005, 2006, 2007) and to the All-Patriot League Tournament team twice (2006, 2007). An NABC first team All-District and Associated Press honorable mention All-America selection in 2007, he ranked among the school's all-time career leaders in seven different statistical categories at the time of his graduation: first in games played (126); second in three-point field goals made (194) and three-point field goals attempted (463); fifth in three-point field goal percentage (41.9 percent), steals (191) and minutes played (3,539); and ninth in points scored (1,654). Following his graduation, Simmons went on to play professionally in Turkey and Germany for several years.
James Sixsmith was a four-year member of the Holy Cross men's ice hockey team from 2003-2007. He ranked as the school's all-time Division I leader points (152) and assists (104) at the time of his graduation, in addition to scoring 48 goals. Sixsmith was named first team All-Atlantic Hockey as a senior, and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament during his junior season. He led the Crusaders to two Atlantic Hockey Association championships and the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history, including a 4-3 victory over Minnesota in the 2006 NCAA West Regional. Sixsmith also received the USCHO Sportsmanship Award and the Atlantic Hockey Sportsmanship Award in 2007. Following his graduation, he went on to play professionally in both the United States and Europe for several years.
The Rev. Anthony J. Kuzniewski, S.J., served as a chaplain for Holy Cross' athletic teams for over 20 years. A beloved member of the Holy Cross community for decades, Kuzniewski was regarded for his distinguished scholarship and exceptional teaching, as well as his mentorship and ministry to Holy Cross student-athletes. His guidance and support engendered such gratitude and respect among Holy Cross alumni and student-athletes, that the rowing team named a shell after him and Kuzniewski Field was named in his honor. Kuzniewski celebrated mass each year prior to the Holy Cross Varsity Club's annual dinner and led the varsity song at the event's conclusion. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 71.
2017 HOLY CROSS VARSITY CLUB BANQUET AWARD WINNERS
Crusader of the Year: Mandy Sifferlen.
John A. Meegan Athletic Achievement Award: Isabela Bagi.
John P. Cooney Memorial Award: Jake Wieczorek.
Daniel Allen Sportsmanship Award: Madelyn Ganser.
Hall of Fame Inductees: Maureen Flanagan (Class of 1988, tennis), Maggie Fontana (Class of 2005, basketball), Jack O'Connor (Class of 1963, track and field), Kate O'Shaughnessy (Class of 2002, soccer, basketball), Keith Simmons (Class of 2007, basketball), James Sixsmith (Class of 2007, ice hockey) and the Rev. Anthony J. Kuzniewski, S.J. (athletic chaplain, honorary).