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Six RCC Student-Athletes Reap National All-Academic Honors

Six RCC Student-Athletes Reap National All-Academic Honors

1st row(l-r) Umberto Piccinich (Baseball), Shannon Thomas (Volleyball) and Sean McGarvey (Golf) 2nd row(l-r) Sarah Hayward (Volleyball), Eric Dollopac (Bowling) and Rachel Mesaris (Bowling)

Piccinich’s perfect 4.0 average earns first-team berth from NJCAA

DATE: July 3, 2018

RAMAPO, N.Y. – Six Rockland Community College student-athletes have been named to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-Academic team for their stellar performance in the classroom. The students attained at least a 3.60 GPA in the 2017-18 academic year to qualify for the national recognition.

RCC’s roster of Academic All-Americans is topped by freshman baseball player Umberto Piccinich, a first-team honoree. Sophomore volleyball standout Shannon Thomas captured a berth on the second team, while four other Hawks student-athletes made the third team: freshman golfer Sean McGarvey, sophomore volleyball player Sara Hayward, and freshman bowlers Eric Dollopac and Rachel Mesaris. There is no margin for error for first-team recipients: the cutoff is a perfect 4.0 GPA. The range for second-team All-Academic honors is 3.80-3.99, while 3.60-3.79 qualifies for the third team.

“We are most proud of our student-athletes’ academic achievements,” says RCC Athletic Director Dan Keeley. “Our goal for all our athletes is to move on to four-year colleges. This is how we really measure our success. Winning is a bonus, a byproduct. I would be dishonest if I told you I remembered all the teams’ records in the past. But I do remember that 38 of our past student-athletes are now coaches, and that we have sent players to colleges and universities across the country.”

Piccinich carries an unblemished 4.0 cumulative average, majoring in computer information systems. He originally was attracted to RCC to play on its heralded baseball team, but found a niche academically in computer-related fields. His two-way excellence during the 2017-18 school year earned him a pair of scholarships – the Bill Cronk Award for baseball, and a grant for computer science proficiency. Piccinich intends to transfer to a four-year institution and study computer science with an eye toward a career in computer technology.

“RCC is a great place to find what you want to do, and to help you get to the next level,” says Piccinich, a graduate of Warwick (N.Y.) Valley High School. “It has helped me find my passion for baseball and computer science.” Piccinich was a backup catcher on the baseball team, which advanced to the Region XV finals.

Thomas is considered one of the finest players ever to don an RCC volleyball uniform. She led the Hawks to their first Mid Hudson Conference title in 13 years last fall, was a two-time conference MVP and a two-time first-team All-Region XV selection. She ranked among the national leaders in several statistical categories the past two years. A North Rockland High School alumna, she graduated in May with a 3.91 GPA and a raft of academic honors, including the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, the 2016-17 SUNY Scholar-Athlete citation, and a third-team NJCAA All-Academic placement last year. She plans to transfer to SUNY New Paltz to study biology and hopes eventually to attend medical school in pursuit of her lifelong goal of becoming a doctor.

Hayward, a setter, was also a key contributor to the Hawks’ championship run, having made first-team All-Conference and All-Region honorable mention this year. A third-team repeater on the NJCAA All-Academic team, Hayward graduated in May with a 3.65 GPA and is set to enroll at Dominican College pursuing a dual major of early childhood education and mathematics.

“Shannon and Sara are two of the most talented, hardest-working and coachable players I’ve ever had,” says RCC volleyball coach Erik Ellingsen. “I will surely miss them.”

Mesaris carries a GPA of 3.75, which includes a perfect 4.0 for the spring 2018 semester. She majors in public health and hopes to become a nutritionist. Dollopac qualified for the NJCAA men’s bowling championship tournament with doubles partner Chris Kelly. The tandem finished 26th of 48 pairings. McGarvey earned a berth in the NJCAA golf tournament, where he finished tied for 46th to lead the three-man Hawks contingent.

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CONTACT: Strategic Marketing