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May 31, 2013

Academy Announces 2012-13 Athletic Award Winners; Olsen and Tyack Receive Top Nods

Complete Description of Athletic Awards and Previous Winners

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Department of Physical Education and Athletics has announced that Kurt Olsen is the 2013 winner of the Giles C. Stedman Trophy and Jessica Tyack is the recipient of the Julie A. Berke Trophy, the highest athletic awards bestowed upon a graduating male and female Midshipman.  Skyler Stone and Kelly Allison were named the Julie A. Berke Rookies of the Year as Head Coach Mike Toop was tabbed the Dr. Stephen "Bill" Omeltchenko Coach of the Year. 

Olsen played four years on the USMMA soccer team, building a reputation as one of the top defenders to ever don a Kings Point uniform.  He was twice named the Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year as well as earning Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman.  Olsen was also a three-time All-Landmark Conference First-Team selection and team MVP.

The Mariners compiled a 46-15-6 record during Olsen's tenure, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament and a run to the "Elite 8" in 2010.  Despite being a defender he also notched two of the biggest goals in program history.  During the Mariners magical run in 2010, Olsen scored a final minute game tying goal as well as overtime goal against Brockport State to propel USMMA to the Sweet Sixteen.

"The entire soccer team, Coach Fitzgerald, Coach Banks and I are very excited to have Kurt win this most prestigious award," said Merchant Marine Head Soccer Coach Michael Smolens.  "The individual accolades he has won during his career here are a reflection of the success our program has enjoyed.  Kurt is one of the top players in the history of Kings Point soccer, and his play and his leadership will be hard to match.   He worked incredibly hard to earn this honor and we are extremely proud of all he has accomplished.  He will continue to strive for success following graduation and I look forward to hearing about his future accomplishments".

Tyack's name will be etched on the Julie A. Berke Trophy after a career in which she rewrote the USMMA Women's Track & Field record book.  She leaves the Academy holding 21 records, 13 indoor and eight outdoor marks.  This season Tyack broke a 23-year old record in the triple jump, which was previously held by former NCAA Champion, All-American, and Berke Trophy Winner Anna Maly '93.

Tyack also qualified for the ECACs in 2013, a feat that no female Mariner had accomplished in eight years.  She scored 18 points at the Landmark Conference Outdoor Championships as Merchant Marine posted its best finish at the event in program history.  Tyack was also an All-Landmark Conference Second-Team honoree in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

"Jess really had a break-out year for us," said Head Track & Field Coach Greg Lott.  "Because of her sea split, she was not able to participate in track last year.   She really went to work this fall to get in phenomenal shape and prepare for the season.  Her performances helped lead the women to their best team finish ever.  She rewrote our record books and will go down as the best all-around female track and field athlete at the Academy since Anna Maly in the early nineties."

Stone, a first-year football player, earned the nod as the Academy's male rookie of the year after leading the Liberty League in interceptions in 2013 and starting every game in the Mariners secondary.  Allison brought home the female rookie of the year honor as the goaltender took her place between the pipes in USMMA's inaugural season of women's lacrosse, ranking sixth in NCAA Division III in saves per game.

Toop claims the Dr. Stephen "Bill" Omeltchenko Coach of the Year Award after leading the USMMA football team to its most successful season in the last ten years.   Merchant Marine defeated rival Coast Guard, 43-37, in New London to win the Secretaries' Cup for the 12thtime in the last 15 years.  The team also beat SUNY Maritime for the first-time in program history, 19-14, and captured the Hoffman Cup in its victory over St. Lawrence. 

Alex Coviello of the USMMA football team will receive the Herman Berke Athletic Leadership Award after serving as the 1st Company Commander during first rotation.  He also was named a Captain of Team USA in the Division III all-star game, "The Bowl of the Stars", in Mexico.  Coviello racked up over 3,300 all-purpose yards and scored 32 touchdowns in his career.

Chris Scott and Casey Roth of the swimming & diving teams claimed the Thomas LeBlanc and Julie A. Berke Achievement Awards, respectively.  The awards are presented to the outstanding scholar-athletes in the senior class who have also contributed in the athletic arena.  As a team the tennis and dinghy squads earned the Academic Dean's Award, given to the small and large teams with the highest cumulative grade point average.  The "Most Improved" award marking the largest increase from one academic season to the next was secured by the men's track & field team.

Michael Ackerman of men's lacrosse and Lauren Seebode of women's swimming & diving and women's lacrosse will be presented with the ECAC Medal of Merit.  The Merit Medal is given to the midshipmen who have demonstrated excellence athletics while maintaining high academic standards.  Timothy Buxton of tennis and Kristina Walz of women's basketball were named the ECAC Robbins Scholar-Athlete winners.  In order to win this award, an athlete must have a 3.2 cumulative GPA and play a significant role in contributing to their chosen team.

The Captain Perry Walter Team Mentor Award, which is presented to the team mentor who best exemplifies the traits exhibited by Captain Perry Walter, will go LT Commander Ian Jones for his work with the football team.  Captain Walter was known for his guidance and dedication in academics, athletics, and regimental affairs for Midshipmen-Athletes.  Finally, Captain Bill Fell, Deputy Athletics Director is this year's recipient of the Captain James Liebertz Memorial Award.   James Liebertz served as Athletics Director from 1950-72 and this award is given by the Athletic Director to someone who exemplifies the same traits of dedication, perseverance, enthusiasm and love for USMMA Athletics.