Atlantic City, NJ – The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA) presented awards to outstanding athletes, scholar-athletes, and former athletes at its Athletic Luncheon held at the 96th Supreme Convention.
“The luncheon presented a special opportunity to recognize Hellenes who excel in their individual sports or who display excellence in the classroom, on the field of athletics and volunteerism within their respective communities,” Hollister said. “We congratulate our honorees. They are committed to perpetuating and promoting these ideals, which are all part of our mission.” He added, “I commend AHEPA’s National Athletic Department, led by Supreme Athletic Director Louis G. Atsaves and Gregory J. Stamos, who chairs the Athletic Awards Selection Committee, for their hard work and dedication to honoring excellence in this field.”
Five were inducted into the AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame. The 2018 Class of the Hall of Fame included:
- Harry Cicma, Emmy Award-Winning Sports Anchor, and former world-ranked ATP Tour Professional Tennis Player
- Michele Koclanes, a former basketball standout at the University of Richmond
- George Papadakos, college, and professional basketball player
- Mark Philippoussis, a former world-ranked ATP Professional Tennis Player, and Olympian
- George Ravanis, a former baseball standout at Boston College
The AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1974 by the late Supreme Athletic Director, Dr. Monte Kofos, and now includes more than 150 inductees.
World-class Ultra-Marathoner, Collegiate Golfer to Receive National Honors Dean Karnazes, one of the world’s premier ultra-marathoners and author, will receive the Harry Agganis Most Outstanding Hellenic Athlete Award. Among his many accomplishments, Karnazes has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He ran across the Sahara Desert in 120-degree temperatures and ran a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. His long list of competitive achievements includes winning the world’s toughest footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. In 2006, he completed 50 marathons in fifty states in fifty consecutive days, finishing with the New York City Marathon.
James Nicholas, a rising senior at Yale University, is the 2018 William Chirgotis awardee, which is presented to the Most Outstanding Collegiate Scholar-Athlete. In 2018, Nicholas was named the 2018 Ivy League Golfer of the Year and earned First-team All-Ivy honors. In 2017, the Metropolitan Golf Association named him Player of the Year.
Steve Leondis, a 2012 AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame inductee for his basketball accomplishments at Yale University, is the second recipient of the Stamos Family Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented to an Athletic Hellenic Hall of Famer for their philanthropic, charitable and societal contributions following the conclusion of their athletic career. In 2006, Leondis founded “Hoops on the Hill,” a nonprofit with a mission to empower at-risk youth. He is also a co-founder, along with his daughter, Devon, of Project Nyame Nsa (“PNN”), a nonprofit dedicated to expressing the love of God to orphans and highly vulnerable children in Ghana and Zambia, Africa.
Eight Scholar-Athletes to be Honored
This year, AHEPA will honor eight national scholar-athletes:
- Leanna Deegan, Easton, PA, who is the recipient of the Excellence in Athletics Award, established by the AHEPA Booster Club to honor the outstanding Greek American High School athlete in the United States. Deegan was awarded 12 varsity letters in three sports and named to the Pennsylvania Volleyball and Basketball All-State team. She will attend Lafayette College.
- Eliana Burlotos, Richfield, OH, is the recipient of the Past Supreme President Franklin R. Manios Scholar-Athlete and Service Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in academics, athletics and community service. She was selected to the All-Ohio Lacrosse All-State First Team and is an Academic All-American. Burlotos will attend The Ohio State University.
- Jacob Gassert, Peachtree Corners, GA, is the recipient of the Supreme President Dr. Kimon Doukas Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Award, presented to the Most Outstanding Collegiate Scholar-Athlete for excellence in both academics and athletics. He plays collegiate baseball for LaGrange College.
- Ashley Spirrison, Fishers, IN, is the recipient of the Past Supreme Athletic Director Dr. Monte N. Kofos Scholar-Athlete Award, awarded to an outstanding high school or college athlete. Spirrison was selected twice to the All-State tennis team and received the Scholar-Athlete Award, having graduated summa cum laude. She will attend Trine University.
- Christina Antonakakis, Holmdel, NJ, and Harrison Nicholas, Demarest, NJ, are the co-winners of the John Peter Vlahos Scholar-Athlete Award, awarded to the Most Outstanding High School Scholar-Athlete. Antonakakis is a member of the United States Junior Nationals All-Star Basketball Team and had a 1,000-point scoring career. She will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Nicholas was a three-sport captain (football, basketball, lacrosse) and achieved All-County and All-League honors. He is also the founder and president of the Greek Heritage Club. Nicholas will attend Cornell University.
- Diana Hadjiyane, Wantagh, and Demetri Brown, Wilmington, NC, are the co-winners of the Spanakos Brothers High School Scholar-Athlete Awards, endowed by Hall of Famers Petros and Nikos Spanakos and awarded for athletic and academic achievement. Hadjiyane was track and field captain for three years and a county champion in the pole vault. She will attend Boston College. A four-year scholar-athlete, Brown was named to the All-Conference football team and played on the Conference championship team. He will attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.