GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Andre De Giorgi and Franziska Funke were named the male and female athletes of the year at “An Evening with the Pioneers” Tuesday night at Pioneer Arena. Over 500 student-athletes, coaches and guests were in attendance at the event, which honors Tusculum’s student-athletes for both on the field and off the field success.
One of the highlights of the night was the farewell presentations for retiring golf coach Bob Dibble, who will be stepping down at the end of this month after 28 years at Tusculum. Dibble received several honors from the College including a resolution from Tusculum’s Board of Trustees which was presented by President Dr. Nancy B. Moody. It was also announced that the men’s and women’s fall tournament hosted by the College will be renamed the “Dibble Classic” in recognition of Bob and his wife Cindy for their years of service to Tusculum and its golf program.
De Giorgi, a senior forward from Lisbon, Portugal, led the Tusculum men’s soccer team with his 16 goals in 20 matches, including five game-winners while finishing second in the South Atlantic Conference in both goals and points (33). He earned All-SAC and NSCAA All-Southeast Region first team honors. He scored at least one goal in 12 matches this year, including a pair in TC’s 2-1 double-overtime win over Lincoln Memorial in the SAC Tournament final. He was named the SAC Tournament Most Valuable Player as the Pioneers qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament
Funke, a junior on the TC women’s tennis team, earned All-Conference first team honors in both singles and doubles play while posting an 18-8 record in singles, including a sterling 9-1 league worksheet. She went a perfect 3-0 in both singles and doubles in Tusculum’s SAC Tournament run earning the program its fourth league tournament title, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for a school-record ninth time. For her efforts, she was named the SAC Tournament Most Valuable Player as Tusculum finished the season with a 20-7 overall record.
Men’s soccer coach Allen Vital is this year’s recipient of the Art Argauer Coach of the Year Award earning the award for the first time in his six seasons at his alma mater. Vital led Tusculum to a 16-4 record, a runner-up finish in the SAC regular season and captured the program a record sixth SAC Tournament championship. TC returned to the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2008 and finished the year ranked 24th in the country.
Senior lacrosse defender Ross Parsons is this year’s recipient of the Walter T. Dette, Jr. Memorial Spirit Award. The Dette Award is presented to the graduating senior who has excelled in several areas while attending Tusculum College. Parsons, a native of Coquitlam, British Columbia, earned All-SAC second team honors this season as the Pioneers finished with a program-best 11-4 record and earned runner-up honors in the conference. Off the field, Parsons served as president of the Pioneer Student-Athlete Advisory Council (PSAAC) where he has logged numerous hours of community service, especially in the organizations fund-raising efforts for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Five Tusculum upperclassmen boast a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point averages and are recipients of the Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Award, which is given to the top male and female student-athletes for academic achievement.
On the men’s side, senior men’s soccer standout Jonathan Spicher earns this honor for a thrid consecutive year. Last fall the Cologne, Germany native was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team for a second straight year. Joining him is sophomore men’s tennis standout Fabian Paier, who earns this honor for a first time. He and Spicher were also named recipients of the SAC Elite 18 Award for their respective sports.
Junior women’s soccer defender Calie Thornber (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) earns the award for a second straight year and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® team for a second straight season. Joining Thornber are teammate Emma MacDonald (Whitby, Ontario, Canada) and sophomore outfielder Morgan Mahaffey (Belmont, N.C.).
Academic achievement was also recognized with the Male and Female Freshman of the Year Academic Awards as three rookies were honored including: Kayli Dempster (Volleyball), Katarina Majorova (Women’s Tennis) and Ivan Andabak (Men’s Tennis).
The Paxton-Combs Fan of the Year Awards are named in honor of former Tusculum staff members and long-time Pioneer fans Mary Helen Paxton and Joyce Combs. The recipient of this year’s award is Roxanna Sauceman, a staff member in the college’s cafeteria.
The student recipient of the Paxton-Combs Fan of the Year Award goes to Fort Lauderdale, Florida junior Alex Grady.
The Play of the Year Award went to Jordon Shippy’s game-winning two-point conversion in Tusculum’s 31-30 overtime football win over arch-rival Carson-Newman.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award was presented to women’s soccer player Cheyenne Upton. The Greeneville, Tennessee native overcame ACL surgery in 2015 to return and start in every match a year leader to help Tusculum to a South Atlantic Conference Championship.
The Freshman of the Year Award went to Katarina Majorova of the TC women’s tennis team. She was named the SAC Women’s Tennis Freshman of the Year last month. Majorova, a native of Martin, Slovakia, played at No. 1 singles and finished with a 15-7 record for the Pioneers, including an 8-2 mark in conference play.
Majorova was ranked 15th in singles in the ITA Southeast Region during the season, and posted a 2-3 record against Division II regionally-ranked opponents. Majorova also had a 1-2 record against Division I opponents, including a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Western Carolina.