Student-athletes from Christendom’s men’s and women’s basketball teams earned numerous awards from the USCAA and Eastern States Athletic Conference (ESAC) following their remarkable 2023-24 seasons, as announced by both organizations. Men’s basketball star John Paul Vander Woude was named the USCAA DII Men’s Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year, while two members of the women’s basketball team earned All-American honors and ten total players earned Academic All-American honors.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams had remarkable 2023-24 seasons, capped off by the women’s team winning their first national championship in March. Both teams featured notable individual performances that helped power their teams to such success, with those individuals honored by the USCAA and ESAC.

The USCAA awarded John Paul Vander Woude with the prestigious DII Student-Athlete of the Year award in his final season for the college. Vander Woude, who crossed the 1,000 career points mark during the season, ranked first in the USCAA in 3PT with 99 made in 267 attempts, along with ranking thirty-first in points per game (17.1) and thirty-fourth in overall points with 411. Along the way, he also retained a 3.5+ GPA in the classroom throughout the season.

The USCAA awarded 1st Team All-American honors to Catherine Thomas (left) and Mary Pennefather (right).

The USCAA awarded 1st Team All-American honors to Catherine Thomas (left) and Mary Pennefather (right).

The USCAA also awarded 1st Team All-American honors, voted on by opposing coaches, to women’s basketball stars Catherine Thomas and Mary Pennefather. Thomas led the USCAA in points per game (26.4), overall points (714), defensive rebounds (275), and field goals (296 in 653 attempts). She also ranked third in rebounds per game (14.3), second in total rebounds (386), seventh in offensive rebounds (111), and seventh in free throw percentage (78.3). She also ranked second in total number of minutes played with 992, and set USCAA tournament records for points in a single game (46) and 3-pointers made (7).

Mary Pennefather, in her first season with Christendom, was equally impressive, ranking second in points per game (23.8), overall points (667), 3PT (102 in 260 attempts), 3PT percentage (39.2), and field goals with 248 in 498 attempts. She was third in defensive rebounds (217) and total rebounds (325), all while leading the USCAA in assists (255) and minutes played (1076).

The USCAA awarded ten total men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes with All-Academic honors. To qualify, a student-athlete must be a full-time student, must have a minimum of 24 completed credit hours, and have a 3.5+ GPA. The ten student-athletes who qualified were: Bobby Vander Woude, Andrew Heisler, John Paul Vander Woude, David Echaniz, Peter Ethridge, Miranda Keller, Regina Bonvissuto, Bridget McCaughey, Catherine Thomas, and Lili Speier.

In addition to the USCAA honors, both teams earned numerous conference honors from the ESAC. For the national champion women’s team, Mary Pennefather was named Player of the Year, while she was also named to 1st Team All-Conference with Catherine Thomas and Miranda Keller. Regina Bonvissuto and Lili Speier were named to 2nd Team All-Conference, while Mary Minick was also named Coach of the Year.

For the men’s team, John Paul Vander Woude and Bobby Vander Woude were both named 1st Team All-Conference, with Andrew Heisler and Peter Ethridge named 2nd Team All-Conference. John Paul Vander Woude was named Player of the Year, and Jeremy Minick was named Coach of the Year.

These recognitions are the capstone to a landmark year for Christendom’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, acknowledging them for their extraordinary accomplishments and hard work, both in and outside the classroom. Throughout the year, Christendom’s student-athletes were given the opportunity to represent the college on a national stage, leaving it all on the field for “the love of the game and the glory of God.”

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