Cincinnati Announces Team and Individual Departmental Awards
Director / Strategic Brand Engagement
CINCINNATI– The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics has announced the awards for its top team and student-athletes after a dynamic 2021-22 season.
Each recipient was elected by the Athletics Leadership Team.
PRICE OF A TEAM
The women’s soccer program, along with the entire Bearcats community, faced unimaginable tragedy with the passing of Ally Sidloski on May 22, 2021. The team dedicated its season to the #WePlayFor3 movement, every UC team wearing AS3 patches on their uniforms for the year. . Childhood friend and college teammate Vanessa DiNardo wore Sidloski’s No. 3 jersey for the year, leading the team with nine goals as well. The Athletics Department’s Bearcats STRONG Award is now named after Sidloski.
The UC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) department also sponsored a 3-for-3 Tribute Walk around the track at Gettler Stadium in September.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
There was no shortage of accomplishments for the football program, completing its second consecutive undefeated regular season and earning a berth in the College Football Playoffs, reaching No. 2 in the polls during the season. Cincinnati produced a school-record nine NFL draft picks, as well as its all-time high with Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, who finished fourth overall for the New York Jets. Off the field, UC had four CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and six All-District members, both leading the nation and setting school records.
Finalists: Men’s Golf, Women’s Cross Country, Women’s Tennis
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Ellie Leather finished his college track career as a second-team All-American, claiming 11th place in the 1,500 meters. It was the second best finish in a running event at the NCAA Championship Meet by a female UC track and field athlete. His time of 4:13.37 was also his second best in the event. Leather, also a first-team All-American in the indoor mile, was a five-time American Track and Field Conference champion this year and holds five school records.
Finalists: Maria Mallon (volleyball), Emma Miceli (tennis), Kylie Nause (lacrosse)
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Desmond Cavalier concluded arguably the most decorated career of any student-athlete in Cincinnati history. The AAC Offensive Player of the Year recipient also earned honors for top football scholar-athlete in the league while earning CoSIDA Academic All-America first-team honors. Ridder, an Atlanta Falcons third-round pick and second quarterback selected in the draft, concluded his college career with the third-most wins by a quarterback in college football history (44). , while finishing undefeated (26-0) at Stade Nippert. He finished with a school-record 87 career touchdown passes, 10,239 passing yards (No. 2 in UC history), and 2,179 rushing yards, as well as the most yards (12,418) and touchdowns (113) in UC and AAC history.
Finalists: Michael Balcerak (swimming and diving), Griffin Merritt (baseball), Sam Jean (golf)
Most impressively, all 16 UC programs posted a team GPA of 3.0 or higher, with Bearcats student-athletes collectively posting a GPA of 3.369 for the spring 2022 semester, marking the ninth consecutive semester with a GPA department of 3.3 or more. Cincinnati Athletics had 299 student-athletes (77%) on the honor roll, with 217 (56%) earning Dean’s List honors and 54 earning a 4.0 for the semester. The Bearcats also won an AAC record 10 league team Academic Excellence Awards.