With the 2018-19 fall athletic seasons in full swing, many athletes have had the chance to get themselves noticed. Volleyball, cross country and hockey have all had several athletes accumulate awards based on their season play, but men’s basketball has an athlete earning awards even before the team has kicked off the season.
Eve Stephens, in just her freshman season at UAA, has already had more individual attention and recognition than many others on the team.
Originally from Palmer High School, Stephens joined the Seawolves as one of many middle blockers on the team. Within one month of the starting season, Stephens already had two awards, one on a conference level and one on a national level.
On Sept. 17, Stephens was name Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week after delivering a .474 and .656 attack average during two separate games against UAF.
“I think transitioning off the net, doing the little things that I needed to do, talking loud, being available to my setter and then just having the confidence to go up every time and swing no matter what [contributed to my success against UAF],” Stephens said.
Her average was the highest seen at UAA in 17 years and resulted in being the sixth best ever in GNAC.
Due to her accomplishments, it was announced a day later that Stephens was named Sports Imports/AVCA Division II National Player of the Week, as voted by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Stephens is just one of three players in UAA history to have received that national honor.
As for cross country, junior Emmah Chelimo is the only runner at UAA who has earned a conference award during the current season after racing in just two meets.
Head coach Michael Friess has been impressed with her performances and is confident in her abilities.
“Emmah Chelimo is at the top of the talent on [our team right now],” Friess said.
Chelimo ran in both the Skinny Raven Classic and the UNLV Invitational on Sep. 8 and Sep. 22, respectively, producing first place wins both times.
Then she led the women’s team to an overall first place finish at both meets.
On Oct. 8, after just two regular season hockey games, it was announced that junior Tomi Hiekkavirta was named Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defenseman of the Week.
Hiekkavirta played in both games against Colorado College on Oct. 6 and 7, making several significant accomplishments during his playing time.
In addition to solidifying the game-winning goal during the second game, he also made several successful assists.
Hiekkavirta, prior to scoring the final goal with 9:18 remaining, also helped put the puck in the net for the previous goal. Overall, during the two games, Hiekkavirta posted one goal and two assists, which ranked him at a tie for second place nationally at the time.
In contrast to the prior award winners, Tyler Brimhall has never played for the Seawolves and has yet to start the 2018-19 season, but he has already accumulated a conference award.
Brimhall is an incoming junior transfer from North Idaho College club who was awarded recognition on the GNAC Preseason All-Conference Team.
Prior to his time at NIC, Brimhall spent his first two collegiate years playing at the Idaho University Division I program.
Head coach Rusty Osborne is satisfied with the previous experience Brimhall had.
“Like our fall signees, we feel Tyler not only brings physical skills, but intangibles as well. Tyler knows how to embrace the little details that contribute to winning,” Osborne said. “He was well-coached at Idaho and continued to make strides this year under coach [Corey] Symons at North Idaho. We are confident he will represent Seawolf Nation well on the court, in the classroom and in the community.”
On both teams, Brimhall made significant accomplishments that made him initially standout after joining a GNAC team. At NIC, during his previous season, Brimhall averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, a significant improvement from his average of 2.5 points per game at Idaho.
These four athletes are the only ones to produce conference or national recognition during the current season; however, there are many weeks left for athletes to make a move. For current schedules and rosters, visit www.goseawolves.com.