STORRS, Conn. - The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) announced it’s 2017 All-American Athlete of the Year recipients and four UConn student-athletes have been recognized with the national award. Senior Aaron Hill (Groton, Conn.) of the baseball team, junior Marisa Maccario (Marblehead, Mass.) of the women’s hockey team, junior Kasperi Ojantakanen (Helsinki, Finland) of the men’s hockey team and sophomore Liane Keegans (Ridgefield, Conn.) of the women’s soccer team have been recognized this year for their athletic accomplishments and dedication to strength and conditioning.
Hill is wrapping up his career at UConn and has played in 169 career games in a Husky uniform. He was named a co-captain on the baseball team this season. He has 19 career stolen bases and 89 runs scored with a career .327 on base percentage. In 2016, he posted a career-high 23 RBI.
“Aaron is a tireless worker, which has translated to huge performance gains in his career,” commented Assistant Sports Performance Coach Joel DeMarco. “Pound-for-pound, he is one of the strongest athletes we have. Combining his natural athletic ability with his work ethic, Aaron has moved to the top of our performance standards. He has grown into a great leader and his energy, work ethic, and passion all set the standard in the weight room for our baseball program.”
Maccario, a forward, finished her junior season appearing in all 36 games for the Huskies, scoring four goals, including a pair of game winners, to go with two assists. During her UConn career, she has played in 102 games and has eight goals with seven assists.
“Reese is a highly competitive athlete who never backs down from a challenge,” said DeMarco. “Her commitment to training off the ice has propelled her to set two program performance records in the last year. She is a mark of consistency for her teammates and embodies all of the great qualities that a strength coach is looking for. She sets a very high performance standard for our program.”
Ojantakanen is coming off his best season at UConn where he appeared in all 36 games, posting career-highs with 16 points on six goals and 10 assists. He finished 2016-17 with a +1 rating. Defensively, he blocked 31 shots, second among UConn forwards. Over his three years in Storrs, Ojantakanen has played in 96 games with 22 goals and 31 assists while blocking 65 shots.
“OJ has established himself as a standout in our program,” commented Moe Butler, UConn’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. “He has embraced the grind of the off-season, put the time in and transformed himself into a strong, powerful athlete which has paid off for him this season. He takes care of the details and it shows in his everyday performance. A quiet leader, who gets it done on the ice, in the weight room and in the classroom.”
Keegans, sophomore defender for the Huskies, has started all 46 games during her two years in the program. A mainstay on the UConn back line, she helped lead the Huskies to the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship this past fall, their second conference title in three years. As a freshman, she was named to the AAC All-Rookie team.
“‘Keegs’ is a tireless worker who gives everything she has day-in and day-out,” Butler stated. “While only a sophomore she has established herself both on the field and in the weight room as a standard of excellence. She not only pushes herself, but challenges and supports her teammates to do the same. It is her leadership, work ethic and character which makes her a standout and a privilege to work with.”
For additional information about the NSCA 2017 All-American Athlete of the Year visit www.nsca.com.
About the National Strength & Conditioning Association
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is an international nonprofit professional association founded in 1978 and is dedicated to advancing the strength and conditioning profession around the world.
The NSCA advances the profession by supporting strength and conditioning professionals devoted to helping others discover and maximize their strengths. The organization disseminates research-based knowledge and its practical application by offering industry-leading certifications, research journals, career development services, and continuing education opportunities. The NSCA community is composed of more than 45,000 members and certified professionals who further industry standards as researchers, educators, strength coaches, personal trainers, and other roles in related fields.
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the NSCA serves as a valuable resource for its members, the fitness industry, general public, and the media. The association provides a wide variety of resources and opportunities designed to strengthen, build, advance, and unify.