Big things happening for Selvaggio.
It’s a great time to be Nicole Selvaggio.
Headed to St. Xavier University in the fall to complete her post-high school education, Selvaggio departed Moraine Valley College this spring with two prestigious academic awards in hand. The Marist grad received the Dick Durrant Award for posting the highest grade-point average among Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference student-athletes, and that 4.0 GPA landed her the Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence.
Only 169 other ISCC student-athletes earned that distinction, while just three other individuals matched Selvaggio’s accomplishment of winning the Durrant Award.
But while Selvaggio will no longer attend Moraine, she is not leaving the Palos Hills campus entirely. A standout tennis player for the Cyclones for two seasons, Selvaggio has been chosen to succeed athletic director Bill Finn as coach of Moraine’s women’s tennis program.
Although still a college student herself, Selvaggio believes she can keep the Cyclones going strong.
“I know the procedures and how coaches think,” she said. “As a player, I brought forth a 200 percent work ethic in the class and on the court, so I’m bringing it as a coach. That’s a position I’m really excited and grateful to have. I want to see my school be successful.
“I got so much out of being an athlete here, and now I’m paying it forward for future athletes. Choosing to play here was the best decision I made. It’s so wonderful to continue the legacy and be part of the Moraine Valley athletics family, except now I’m taking the reins and being the leader.”
Selvaggio was selected as the National Junior College Athletic Association Region IV and ISCC Player of the Year in both 2011 and 2012 and helped lead the Cyclones to a pair of national tournaments. While at Marist, she ranked among the top 30 female players in the state and held a No. 1 ranking in the United States Tennis Association Girls’ 16-18 and Women’s Open divisions.
As coach, Selvaggio wants her players to work hard to reach their highest possible levels of achievement while also enjoying the moment.
“At the end of the season, the girls will be better players and people,” she said. “I want them to be known as fighters. At the end of every match, win or lose, I want them to have fought their hardest and let the results speak for themselves.
“I bring that match mentality, that mental part of the game, which is a strong point for me. Once players achieve the tennis tactics and mental side, it’s unbeatable. It comes with experience.”
In addition to her studies and upcoming coaching duties, Selvaggio serves as a tennis instructor at the Oak Lawn Racquet Club.
Selvaggio wasn’t the only Moraine student-athlete honored for academic feats during the 2012-13 school year. Five others joined her in becoming an NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Award winner: soccer player Natalia Patrzyk (Oak Lawn), baseball player Dominick Paolella, golfer Dan Dermody (St. Laurence), and softball players Samantha Staisiunas and Courtney Wheaton.
To earn the Academic Student Award, student-athletes must have a GPA over 3.6 after 45 course-credit hours and have participated in a sport for at least one season.
Five Cyclones programs were among those chosen as All-Academic teams, which require a cumulative GPA above 3.0. Recognized from Moraine were both tennis squads, the women’s cross country team, softball squad and women’s volleyball team.
A total of 28 Cyclones athletes were pegged as ISCC All-Academic Athletes of the Year, a designation given to those individuals who have completed at least 48 course-credit hours with a 3.0 or better GPA while participating in at least one sport. One-hundred thirty-four ISCC student athletes were feted, with Moraine boasting the highest number of any conference institution.
Representing the Cyclones in addition to the six NJCAA honorees previously mentioned were baseball players Darin Bach, Mike Habas, Martin Joyce, Dan Kenealy (Richards), Kevin Siergiej (Shepard) and Jeremy Vandergriff; men’s basketball player Zoran Arsenovic; men’s soccer players Kris Dolinsky and Deya Elayyan (Stagg); men’s tennis players Kevin Davenport, Jair Gutierrez Gomez and David Smith; softball players Kristin Renken (Richards) and Jenny Vanek (Mother McAuley); volleyball player Bridget Williams (Mt. Assisi Academy); women’s basketball players Stephanie Karl, Kayla McKinney (Shepard) and Bridget Niemiec (Oak Lawn); women’s soccer players Monserrat Espinosa, Stephanie Navarrete (Shepard) and Ashley Solus (Richards); and women’s tennis player Kayla Annerino (Oak Lawn).
“We are so proud of our student-athletes, who realize that their education is paramount to their future success,” Finn said. “They have done an exceptional job balancing the rigors of intercollegiate athletics and representing Moraine Valley on the competition fields and in the classroom.”