SAN MARCOS, CA – The University of St. Katherine held their 3rd annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet at St. Petka’s Serbian Orthodox Church in San Marcos; Army Navy Academy Wrestling Coach and former member of the USA Olympic Coaching Staff, Roye Oliver, was the guest speaker of the night, with Lolita’s providing the meal for the evening.
This event is meant to honor the athletes and coaches of the University of St. Katherine athletics programs for the hard work, determination, perseverance, and dedication they have shown to their respective fields of expertise throughout the year, with each sport presenting their own individual awards for recognition. However, being an athlete is only half the battle, and USK has continued the tradition established by Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach, Daniel Stange, of presenting the Firebird Award to a pair of outstanding individuals who embody the spirit of the athletics program and the University as a whole. The words of the University’s President, Dr. Frank Papatheofanis, shed some light as to what it takes to be a Firebird; “The character development, and everything else that comes with being on a team – the leadership qualities, the idea that you can’t always win – are very important to anyone’s growth and maturity…this is very complimentary to the education we offer.” The Firebird Award is not simply given to the best male and female athletes at the school; those who receive this award are meant to embody a total student-athlete, one who strives for excellence on the field of competition as well as in the classroom, who possess great integrity and honor, who displays excellent leadership qualities, and who does not relent in the face of tremendous adversity. It is with these qualities in mind that Cassia Ruiz (JR/Softball) and Nico Tessi (JR/Men’s Tennis) were voted by the coaching and athletic staff as this year’s Firebird Award recipients.
Congratulations to 2019’s Firebirds, Cassia Ruiz and Nico Tessi, their fellow student-athletes, and to the rest of USK Athletics for the blood, sweat, and tears they gave to the betterment of the school and the athletics program!