Goshen College held the annual LEAFYs Awards this past Sunday, honoring the athletic and academic achievements of student-athletes throughout the 2022-23 seasons. The emcee for the event was Vince Turner, a former sports journalist for the Elkhart Truth and a broadcaster for 13 years who covered play-by-play for both local high school teams and Notre Dame events.The LEAFYs featured many categories of recognition for athletes and teams across GC. The Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to Nelson Kemboi for his three time All-American status: cross country, the indoor track 3K and the outdoor track 10K.
“It felt amazing to be named the male athlete of the year for the second time in a row,” Kemboi said. “It was a challenge to come back and do something for next year. I can’t do it all by myself, with my teammates they push me and I am excelling.”
Mercy Chebet earned Female Athlete of the Year for her All-American honor in the outdoor 5K and her nearly All-American performance in the outdoor 4×800 meter relay. When asked about her award she said, “I feel so excited. … All the workouts with my teammates are really working and it will help my teammates come up and race at nationals. This year I feel more confident and … fast.”
The Team Service award was won by the women’s basketball team, which served the community through the Boys and Girls Club along with Greencroft.
The next award was the Moment of the Year, earned by the men’s baseball team in their walkoff single, hit by sophomore Preston Anderson that resulted in an upset win over #21 Taylor University.
Coach of the Year was shared by softball coach Luke Wagner and cross country coach Rustin Nyce. Wagner led the softball team to a record of 24-26 and attained 16 conference wins in his first year at GC. Nyce coached the men’s cross country team to place 22nd at the national meet and sent 15 individual athletes to nationals during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
Shifting the focus to the academic accomplishments of student-athletes, the men’s team with the highest GPA was the tennis team with a cumulative GPA of 3.618. On the women’s side, the cross country team won with a cumulative GPA of 3.516.
Summer Cooper, a senior cross country runner, was awarded the Maple Leaf Character Award, which is given to an athlete that “exemplifies great support of Goshen College athletics.”
The Victory of the Year was awarded to the men’s tennis team in their upset 4-3 win against #3 Indiana Wesleyan University at home.
Jane Metzler, a supporter who can be seen at almost every home game and heard throughout the gym, was named Fan of the Year.
The Ruth Gunden and John Ingold Awards of Excellence are awarded to seniors during the 2022-23 seasons who best exemplify academic, athletic and leadership qualities in their careers at GC in honor of two prestigious alumni. The Ruth Gunden Award of Excellence was given to graduate basketball player Emily Brandeberry and the John Ingold Award of Excellence was given to graduate soccer player Lucas Bontreger.
Mady Axsom was named Female Rookie of the Year after a freshman season in which she qualified for indoor and outdoor high jump nationals. She tied for 12th both times and, in April, was named the women’s athlete of the week. Male Rookie of the Year went to volleyball player Ishmail Bangura. In his first season, he was named first-team all-conference and was the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference attacker of the week in January.