Knapton, Kucharski Nabbed Coca-Cola Student-Athletes of the Year for 2013-14

Knapton, Kucharski Nabbed Coca-Cola Student-Athletes of the Year for 2013-14
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Senior Adam Knapton (Canandaigua, N.Y.) and junior Grace Kucharski (Avon, Conn.) have been named the Western New England University Coca-Cola Male and Female Athletes of the Year for the 2013-14 academic year.

Knapton, a three-year starter at attack, made the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division III All-American Team for the second straight season and also was selected to the USILA Scholar All-America Team. He also was a three-time All-Commonwealth Coast Conference choice, including 2013 CCC Offensive Player of the Year accolades for the start of back-to-back first team honors. Knapton played for the North Team in the annual USILA Senior All-Star Game on May 25, 2014 in Baltimore, Md., where he scored a goal. He led the Golden Bears with a career-best 68 points (career-high 48 goals, 20 assists) and ranked 11th in the nation in scoring despite missing four games with an injury. Knapton, who majored in sport management, finished his career with 183 points on 107 goals and 76 assists that ranks fifth on the program's all-time list.

"I really appreciate Western New England presenting me with this honor. I personally consider it an honor for the entire lacrosse program, knowing that I would not have been able to accomplish what I did in my career without my teammates and coaching staff that have helped me throughout my four years at the university," Knapton said. "I am so thankful for the support of my family during my time at Western New England and am happy that I can share this honor with them, including those associated with the institution - my mom, a Downes Athletics Hall of Fame member in basketball and softball and brother, Ben, who is wrapping up his master's degree and served as my assistant coach."

Golden Bears men's lacrosse coach John Klepacki added: "Adam Knapton improved from year to year coming back to campus (each time) a better player and athlete. His senior season was a special one to be around. He was able to make his teammates better and still get the goals we needed from him even though opponents were focused on eliminating him from the off season. This is a well deserved award for a young man that had a special career at Western New England."

Kucharski made school history by being named the first Golden Bear to make the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III All-American Team. She earned a litany of awards: AVCA All-New England, Eastern College Athletic Conference All-New England First Team, CCC Libero of the Year and All-CCC First Team. Kucharski was voted to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District¬ģ Women's Volleyball First Team for a second time and was the recipient of the WNE Richard DiRuzza Leadership Award. Kucharski broke her own school record with 586 digs and became the program's all-time leader in that category at 1,626. A business management major, she helped led the team to its second straight 25-win season last fall.

"Grace had an outstanding year and I'm so happy for her to have earned this award," said head coach Bret Stothart, who has led the Golden Bears to back-to-back ECAC New England volleyball championships in his first three seasons. "WNE has so many impressive female student-athletes who also accomplished great things this year that it really says a lot about Grace and the respect she has earned through her hard work and commitment to constant improvement."

Both individuals will receive their awards on Sept. 12, 2014 at the Downes Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

(Editor's note: Additional quotes were added to this story at 1:54 p.m. on Thursday, June 12.)