The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) is proud to annually announce its Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award Winners.

The NEAC Sportsmanship Award is presented annually (if applicable) to at least one female student-athlete, male student-athlete, female team, male team, and/or one institutional winner. The winning selections have consistently demonstrated good sportsmanship and ethical behavior in his/her/their daily participation in intercollegiate athletics. They have exemplified the values of respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility, while also demonstrating good citizenship outside the sports setting.

The NEAC Inspirational Award is presented annually (if applicable) to an individual who has endured personal hardships that have led to bravery and/or dedication within athletics through participation, volunteerism, coaching, and/or administrating.

In 2006-2007, The NEAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) worked together to create and foster a new sense of sportsmanship throughout the conference. They created the NEAC sportsmanship statement and slogan which is endorsed throughout the conference:

“The student-athletes of the North Eastern Athletic Conference uphold the responsibilityof sportsmanship by demonstrating leadership, positive attitudes, and respect so that all collegiate participants will maintain the integrity and character of the conference.  We strive to achieve these ideals through a commitment to fair and honest competition.”

“Stay Classy NEAC!!!”

Past Award Winners:
2012-13 Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award Recipients (No Male Team or Institutional selection for Sportsmanship Award and no Team or Institutional selections for Inspirational Award)
2011-12 Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award Recipients (No Team or Institutional selections for either award)
2010-11 Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award Recipients
2008-09 Sportsmanship Award Recipients (No Male Team selection for Sportsmanship Award and no selection for Inspirational Award)
2006-07 Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award Recipients (No Male Team selection for Sportsmanship Award)

*No selections made for either award in 2009-10 and 2007-08


2012-13 NEAC Sportsmanship & Inspirational Award Winners

The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) is proud to announce its Sportsmanship and Inspirational Award winners for the 2012-13 academic year.

Gallaudet University senior Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.) was selected for the Individual Sportsmanship Award while the Lancaster Bible College women’s soccer team earned the Team Sportsmanship Award.  Gallaudet University freshman Ivan Alfaro (Yakima, Wash.) and SUNY Cobleskill junior Christine Ilowiecki (Warnerville, N.Y.) were each selected as Inspirational Award winners.


Tommy Barksdale, Sr., Gallaudet University, Baseball

 Tommy Barksd ale was selected to receive the NEAC Individual Sportsmanship Award for his actions following the final game of his outstanding career for the Gallaudet University baseball team.  Barksdale, who is hard of hearing, helped guide the Bison to a share of the NEAC regular season title and the right to host the NEAC Championship Tournament after being an All-Conference First Team shortstop and conference player of the year nominee following a tremendous senior season.

 The outcome from the championships was not what Barksdale was hoping for, however, as he and the Bison were ousted from the double-elimination tournament after dropping their first two contests.  Despite this, Barksdale, who was a team captain for both his play and his exemplary attitude, stuck around to watch the next game between Penn State Berks and Penn State Abington, which had just eliminated the Bison from the tournament.  After Berks won 4-3 and ended Abington’s playoff run, it was Barksdale who was walking around hugging, shaking hands and offering words of support to the Abington seniors, including NEAC Player of the Year Bill Parave.

Abington head coach Joe Pavlow took notice of the kind act and was so moved by it that he sent Gallaudet University Athletics Director Michael Weinstock an email shortly after the tournament to express his gratitude.  The email read like this:

“I just wanted to make you aware of the class and sportsmanship demonstrated this weekend by Tommy Barksdale.  At the conclusion of our game on Saturday, when we were eliminated, Tommy made his way around and shook hands with, hugged, and offered very kind words to all of my seniors who were playing their last NEAC game. I am writing this email because this show of sportsmanship is what college athletics is all about, and I didn't want this type of exemplary behavior to go unnoticed.  You have a very classy baseball program, and Tommy is a wonderful ambassador for your university.”

The kind act was one of many fine moments that can be found throughout the four-year collegiate career of Barksdale, who started off as the first recruit of Bison head coach Curtis Pride and finished as one of the most accomplished and well-decorated players in program history, both for his skills and his lead-by-example attitude.


Lancaster Bible College, Women's Soccer Team

The Lancaster Bible College women’s soccer team also showed a tremendous level of class during a conference championship event to earn the NEAC Team Sportsmanship Award.  During the NEAC women’s soccer championship match, which pitted host Penn State Berks against Lancaster Bible, a severe injury occurred to a Berks student-athlete with just under two minutes left in the contest.  From that moment until an ambulance arrived, the Lancaster Bible team conducted themselves in a very professional and caring manner and were all extremely concerned for the injured player.  

After the injured player received medical attention and was taken to the hospital, the game officials and coaches from both teams agreed to call the game, leaving Lancaster Bible as the champions with a 2-0 win and giving the Chargers an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  However, the team was in full support of the decision to not hold the standard conference championship ceremony and trophy presentation in light of what just occurred, and while there was some celebration, it was done in a brief and classy manner. 

In the days following the contest, the Lancaster Bible student-athletes, coaches, and administration remained in constant contact with Berks to track the status of the injured player, who thankfully made a full recovery.

“It was a nice gesture by the Lancaster Bible women’s soccer team to understand what had just occurred and to know how to handle the situation,” said Penn State Berks Athletics Director Lisa Deibler, who nominated the team for the award.  “They understood that at that moment there was a more important issue than the game of soccer.”




Ivan Alfaro, Fr., Gallaudet University, Men's Cross Country

  Ivan Alfaro has been selected to receive the NEAC Inspirational Award for his perseverance as a member of the Gallaudet University men’s cross country team despite his personal hardships.  Alfaro, who is deaf and legally blind, suffers from Ushers Syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that is a leading cause of deaf-blindness due to a mutation of any of 10 genes. This is an incurable disease.  Alfaro has not allowed his personal setback to stop him from excelling for the Bison, as he was one of Gallaudet’s top runners as a freshman last season. 

Alfaro helped lead the Bison to an eighth place finish at the NEAC Championships last fall, finishing 22nd overall individually with a time of 31:36 that placed him just one spot outside of the All-Conference Team.  He then went on to represent Gallaudet at the 2012 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional, where he finished 257th out of 343 runners with a time of 30:17.

“As a coach, I am often approached by coaches and student-athletes of other institutions with questions on ASL and deafness,” explained Bison head cross country coach Mikaela Hudson.  “This season, I had the opportunity to share Ivan’s triumphs as a deaf-blind student-athlete.”

Alfaro is also a member of the Bison track and field team, where he accomplished multiple career-best finishes and also set the school record in the 3,000 meter run this past season.  According to Hudson, who also coaches the track and field team, Alfaro was a big inspiration to his teammates in addition to being a strong contributor to the squad.

“He inspired three other deaf-blind student-athletes on our track teams to educate our other student-athletes on Ushers Syndrome, as well as share their experiences,” Hudson said.


Christine Ilowiecki, Jr., SUNY Cobleskill, Women's Cross Country

Christine Ilowiecki also receives the NEAC Inspirational Award for her tremendous commitments to her family, her team, her school and her community.  Nicknamed “mom” by her teammates, Christine was a co-captain on the SUNY Cobleskill women’s cross country team and excelled in her studies while also taking care of her two young kids while her husband was away serving for the United States Army overseas.  Juggling all of these responsibilities was not easy, as Ilowiecki had to skip the chance to compete at this year’s NEAC Championships held at Penn State Abington because she was unable to be away from her children for that extended period of time.

Despite this necessary sacrifice, Ilowiecki was remarkable at balancing her studies, athletics and family life while still finding time to do volunteer work, doing so for an organization that recognizes military veterans for their service abroad.  She also helped out with SUNY Cobleskill’s Freshman Move-In program and served as a tutor for the college’s Center for Academic Success and Excellence.

Additionally, Ilowiecki’s top-notch skills as a runner were matched in the classroom, as she was a NEAC Scholar-Athlete selection and member of the SUNY Cobleskill Dean’s List while majoring in applied psychology. She was also recognized as the 2012-13 SUNY Cobleskill Department of Social Studies Student of the Year.

She capped the year off by being the receipt of the 2012-13 SUNY Cobleskill Department of Sport & Exercise Steven A. Ward award for female sportsmanship, in addition to being honored with the National Consortium for Academics & Sports National Student-Athlete Day award.