Sica and Grandison named Niagara College’s top athletes
Niagara Falls native Sydney Sica and Delroy Grandison from Nassau, Bahamas, were named Niagara College’s female and male athletes of the year at the school’s 53rd Annual Athletic Awards Banquet held Saturday at the college’s Welland campus.
Sica lead Niagara women’s soccer team to its first-ever Ontario Colleges Athletic Association championship bronze medal while earning her second consecutive OCAA West Division Player of the Year award, All-Canadian honours and West Division First Team All-Star recognition. She led the OCAA West Division in scoring during the regular season with 12 goals in 10 games. She had four multiple goal matches, including a hat trick. In the cross-over playoff victory over George Brown, she netted four goals and then added four more at the provincial championships.
Sica is Niagara’s career regular season scoring leader with 21 goals, and holds the records with 12 regular season goals and eight playoff goals. In the classroom, she is a two-time recipient of the OCAA All-Academic and Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Academic All-Canadian Awards.
Grandison, an OCAA West Second Team All-Star, led Niagara in rebounding and points per game. He is a team-first oriented player who leads by example both on and off the court. Grandison embraced Niagara College athletics with his outstanding work ethic, positive attitude and overall performance in a highly competitive conference. He is a respectful young man and has continued to excel in the classroom.
A total of 88 individual awards were handed out at the banquet.
“I’m extremely proud of all of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members,” said Michele O’Keefe, Niagara College’s director of athletics and student engagement. “Niagara College’s annual athletic banquet is a fantastic way to say thank you to our team for their hard work throughout the season and to energize everyone for the year ahead.”
Winning the top female rookie of the year award was Tori Hultink of the women’s soccer team. The Fenwick resident scored twice in the regular season and played a key role in Niagara’s 6-3-1 regular season record. In the playoffs, the Smithville Christian grad scored one goal in the playoff crossover against George Brown and then netted three goals in the provincial championship quarter-final victory over Algonquin College. She was named West Division Rookie of the Year and a West Division League Second Team All-Star.
Named Niagara’s top male rookie of the year award was Noah Vogel of Waterdown, a midfielder on the men’s soccer team. Vogel did not start the season opener but came in at the 15-minute mark and earned the spot for the rest of the season. The position is usually played by a more experienced player but Vogel showed great confidence on both sides of the ball.
Curlers swept the male and female tournament sport player of the year awards with Sault Ste. Marie’s Nick Lemieux winning on the male side and Amelia Bender from Lucan capturing the women’s award.
Lemieux was the mixed doubles curling team MVP and acted as a mentor the second team along with his partner by sharing his knowledge and strategies. He led his team to an OCAA silver medal and was named a Championship Second Team All-Star. Off the ice, he was an honours student.
Bender was the MVP of the women’s team and played lead, second and vice. She trained all summer and throughout this year and it showed on the ice. At the OCAA championship, she was part of the silver-medal winning team and was named a Second Team All-Star. Bender was a two-time athlete of the week this past season.
Local athletes grabbed the top leadership awards. Alexa Desrochers from Welland, who helped the curling team win OCAA and CCA silver medals, and Micah Nieuwets from St. Catharines, a libero on the volleyball team, were the winners.
Desrochers lead the women’s and mixed doubles teams in off-season workouts that started as soon as the previous season ended. She took on many roles during the year, skipping in the Welland women’s league play for most of the season and playing vice and second in college play. Her calm demeanour and work ethic was a big part of the team’s success and she was named an OCAA Championship First Team All-Star.
Nieuwets, an OCAA West Second Team All-Star, was willing to do whatever it took to help his team succeed. He brought energy and leadership as co-captain and pushed his teammates to be better and work harder in practice. He gave constant feedback to rookies and helped keep his teammates accountable. His contributions during timeouts, pre-and post-game discussions and team meetings made him a true leader on and off the court.
Winning the Ralph Nero Memorial Award for coaching excellence and outstanding contributions to student recruitment and retention was head curling coach Bryant Karner. He led his athletes to two OCAA silver medals and a CCAA silver medal.
A new award presented in 2023 was the Ray Sarkis Award. It has been created to honour Niagara’s long-standing intercollegiate coordinator who will be retiring this June. Sarkis provided a steady hand for more than four decades and exemplified passion, commitment and community-mindedness, the characteristics that every person who works in athletics and recreation should exude.
The inaugural recipient of the award is A.J. Scocchia, who started working with the Knights athletic department in 2021 on the game-day staff for soccer, basketball and volleyball and never missed a game. The sport management student did his placement with the athletic department in the fall of 2022 and having his voice at the front desk, answering questions for all the new students, was nice to see and hear. With young men like AJ, who share similar traits as Ray Sarkis, starting their career in sport administration, the future looks very bright.
Winning the Luciano Berardocco Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to intercollegiate athletics in the 2022-23 season was Lindsay English, the former communications and events coordinator. She was instrumental in coordinating athletic communications and home games and assisting in the coordination and hosting of three OCAA championships.
Earning Athlete of Distinction Awards by accumulating points given from their head coach over their careers, were: Kennan Larmand, men’s basketball; Amelia Bender, Alexa Desrochers and Emma Hill, women’s curling; Sierra Naccarato, Alyssa Arcand and McKenna Jackson, women’s soccer; Montanna Taylor, women’s volleyball; and, Simon Silverio, men’s soccer.
Presented with Fourth Year Recognition Awards for athletes who have given four years of dedication to their respective sports were: Rahim Bardi and Delroy Grandison, men’s basketball; Elijah Bugiardini, men’s volleyball; and, Madelyn Berg, women’s volleyball.
Women’s basketball: Molly Taylor, leadership; Janee Harrison, scholastic; Kate Roth, top rookie; Jamira Rousseau, MVP.
Men’s basketball: Khayden Stewart, leadership; Ethan Alino-Dela-Cruz, scholastic and top rookie; Delroy Grandison, MVP.
Curling: Alexa Desrochers, leadership; Nick Lemieux, scholastic; Amy Danen, top rookie; Amelia Bender and Lemieux, MVPs.
Golf: Owen Hope, leadership; Anthony Sartor, scholastic, top rookie and MVP.
Men’s soccer: Anthony Argueta, leadership; Travis Korten, scholastic; Noah Vogel, top rookie; Joel Marinas and Noah DiEgidio, MVPs.
Women’s soccer: Sydney Sica, leadership and MVP; Tori Hultink, scholastic and top rookie.
Men’s volleyball: Micah Nieuwets, leadership; Elijah Bugiardini, scholastic; Tyler Carmichael, top rookie; Carter Thurman, MVP.
Women’s volleyball: Rhea-Lee Humphrey, leadership; Natasha Desjardins, scholastic and MVP; Hope Nicholson, top rookie.
CCAA Academic All-Canadians: Alyssa Arcand, Sydney Sica and Tori Hultink, women’s soccer; Natasha Desjardins, women’s volleyball; Melissa Borowski, Alexa Desrochers, Amelia Bender, Emma Hill and Claire Randell, women’s curling.
OCAA All-Academic Awards: Ethan Alino-DelaCruz and Reggie Williams, men’s basketball; Emma Fraser, Janee Harrison and Katelyn Roth, women basketball; Anthony Sartor, men’s golf; Anthony Argueta, Christian Buccella, David Hall, Travis Korten, Neil Maharaj, Joel Marinas and Noah Vogel, men’s soccer; Valerie Andrew, Alyssa Arcand, Sierra Boone, Natasha Desjardins, Tori Hultink, Samara Samson and Sydney Sica, women’s soccer; Elijah Bugiardini, Tyler Carmichael, Tiernan Currie, Zack Reimer, Jordan Schroeder and Andrew Vandenburg, men’s volleyball; and, Lauren Alguire, Kyrah Cameron, Lindsay Felker, Rhea-Lee Humphrey and Montanna Taylor, women’s volleyball.