Tyler Andrews and Cody Gaines Receive NEAC Inspirational Awards

Tyler Andrews and Cody Gaines Receive NEAC Inspirational Awards

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Keuka College’s Tyler Andrews and Morrisville State College’s Cody Gaines have been named the first two recipients of the 2017-18 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Inspirational Award.

Each year, the NEAC honors student-athletes within the conference that have endured personal hardships leading to bravery or dedication in athletics through participation, volunteerism, coaching or administration. Andrews and Gaines are two of four honorees to receive a NEAC Inspirational Award this year.

A native of Spencerport, N.Y., Andrews persevered through a number of setbacks in his collegiate career to emerge as a leader on the Keuka College men’s lacrosse team. Andrews, who just completed his senior season on the Wolves’ defense, had his career begin on a low note when he tore his ACL in the spring of 2014. He returned to the field in the fall of 2015 and quickly gained respect from his teammates due to his work ethic and selflessness. After the 2016 season, Andrews received the Coaches Award after playing multiple positions, providing leadership as a team mentor in the library and leading the team in the weight room.

Injuries struck again during the 2017 preseason when Andrews suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Despite the injury, he acted as a team captain and continued to travel with the team. In the fall of 2017, Andrews immediately engaged with 20 new players by acting as a peer mentor and facilitating team workouts. After bouncing back from injuries, Andrews was also faced with overcoming the loss of his father in October 2017, but he continued to serve as a team leader and push his teammates on and off the field.

After his senior season this past spring, Andrews was awarded the Rob Smets Heart of a Champion award by the Keuka College Athletics Department given annually to a student-athlete for perseverance and overcoming obstacles in life while continuing to excel on the playing field.

“Tyler’s character and devotion allowed him to excel as a student-athlete while dealing with the loss of his dad and two very serious injuries,” shared Jason Paige, Keuka College Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach. “His devotion to mental toughness has made him a student-athlete that transcends the different generations of kids that I have coached. He will always be an inspiration to everyone he worked with during his time at Keuka College.”

Gaines, a goalkeeper from Hoosick Falls, N.Y., was preparing for his senior season on the Morrisville State College men’s soccer team when he was involved in a serious car accident. During the summer of 2016, he suffered a serious injury to his shoulder when the car he was riding in was struck by a drunk driver. While undergoing a year of rehabilitation for even the possibility to return to the field, Gaines remained involved in the team by serving as a manager/student assistant to provide guidance to the freshman goalkeeper that stepped in to fill the void left by his absence.

After receiving clearance during the summer of 2017, Gaines returned to the team and worked his way back to the starting role for the Mustangs before another incident sidelined him for a short stint. In a conference contest, Gaines made a diving save but suffered trauma to his face as the attacker’s foot caught him on the follow-through. Luckily, he was able to return to the field where he helped lead the Mustangs’ defense throughout the rest of the season and in the NEAC Championship Tournament. Gaines finished his career ranking fourth all-time in the Mustangs’ record book in career goals-against average and shutouts. In single-season records, Gaines ranked sixth in goals-against average and 10th in save percentage. In addition to his efforts on the field, he has been named a NEAC Scholar-Athlete on two occasions and appeared on the Dean’s List nearly every semester.

“Cody exemplified what it meant to be a true student-athlete even before his accident and year-long recovery,” said Kyle Graves, Morrisville State College Men’s Soccer Head Coach. “His character, leadership, academic achievement and team-first mentality made him a coach’s dream. That’s why when we heard about his accident I immediately knew Cody would overcome any newly presented obstacles and come out even stronger. Cody returned to have a breakout senior season, but the bigger impact was the legacy he left that will teach players in years to come what it truly means to attack adversity head on and what can be accomplished with hard work and grit.”

The announcement of this year’s NEAC Inspirational Award winners will continue tomorrow with two more recipients to be recognized.

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has 12 NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Wells College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (W Lacrosse), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse), Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf), and Wilson College (M Volleyball). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sport of men’s tennis and with the Colonial State Athletic Conference in the sport of Field Hockey. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.