A pair of Section II alumni are in the running for major awards presented by the America East Conference.
Shenendehowa High School graduate Kelly Barkevich and Ballston Spa product Jack Fitzgerald are among the six finalists for the 2019-20 AE Woman of the Year Award and AE Man of the Year Award, respectively.
Barkevich, a University at Albany senior softball player, made the list of three women’s finalists from an original group of nine nominees. Fitzgerald, a Binghamton University senior high jumper, made the list of three men’s finalists from an original cast of eight nominees.
The awards are based on academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know I was up for it,” said Barkevich, who was a four-year letter winner in softball and field hockey while at Shenendehowa. “I saw it [Wednesday], and it’s pretty cool. I was just thinking about how many standout student-athletes there are in the conference. To be highlighted is amazing.”
Barkevich has a chance to become UAlbany’s second straight AE Woman of the Year award winner following Tara Belinsky’s selection a year ago, and UAlbany’s fourth overall.
“She was a role model to me,” Barkevich said of Belinsky, a discus and classroom star. “It would be really cool to follow in her footsteps.”
In her 2020 season that was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barkevich played in all 11 games with 10 starts. The third baseman hit .290 with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs while slugging .548. She plans to play one more season now that spring sport college seniors have been granted that by the NCAA while completing work on her master’s degree.
“I am going to take advantage of the fifth year,” Barkevich said.
For her career, Barkevich has appeared in 122 games and made 99 starts. She has a .262 batting average with 10 doubles, 17 home runs and 67 RBIs with 22 walks and four stolen bases. She led the Great Danes with nine home runs during the 2018 season.
Academically, Barkevich earned a 3.95 undergraduate grade-point average in business administration. As a graduate student, Barkevich has achieved a 4.00 GPA studying special education and literacy. The 2019 and 2020 America East All-Academic selection has been named to the America East Commissioner’s Honor Roll three times and to the Dean’s List six times.
For the past two years Barkevich served as vice president of UAlbany’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Barkevich, UMBC’s Lucrezia Costa and Stony Brook’s Clodagh O’Reilly were the three finalists selected from the nine women’s nominees.
The three senior finalists for the AE Man of the Year Award are Fitzgerald, UMass Lowell’s Christian Lutete and UMBC’s Ilia Rattsev.
“I knew the school had nominated me. To be in the final three is definitely an honor,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a testament to Binghamton track and field and the culture that has been established there. If you want something, you’ve got to work for it.”
Fitzgerald recently earned Binghamton’s John Bilos Alumni Award for career achievement, and he achieved plenty as a six-time AE All-Conference honoree and as a five-time AE All-Academic honoree. The mechanical engineering major recently graduated with a career GPA of 3.93.
Among his other accomplishments was a school-record jump of 7-1 3/4 during this past indoor season at the Great Dane Classic.
“When I look back at Binghamton, what stands out was breaking the 7-foot barrier,” said Fitzgerald, whose high school best was 6-8. “That was my goal. It was a dog fight. Over my four years, it was continuous, slow and steady improvement. One little thing after one little thing.”
Fitzgerald swept the AE indoor and outdoor high jump titles as a junior and placed first as a freshman at the conference outdoor championships. As a senior, he placed second at AE indoor championships and at the ECAC indoor championships.
“Going into every year, my goal was to win the league championship,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald, who played soccer and basketball at Ballston Spa, will begin U.S. Navy officer training in August.