HAMMOND, Ind., & WESTVILLE, Ind. — The Purdue University Northwest athletic department recently held its first annual Leo Awards to celebrate and honor the 2016-17 athletic and academic year at the James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activities Complex in Westville, Ind.

The Pride, completing its first year as a unified program in 2016-17, began the event by honoring its 50 CCAC All-Academic Selections, 17 NAIA Daktronics Scholar-Athletes, and two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans: Cassidy Deno (Otterbein, Ind./Benton Central) of women’s basketball and Sergio Reyes (Tabio, Columbia) of men’s soccer.

Deno took home plenty of hardware at the event held April 27, as the senior shooting guard majoring in Fitness Management captured both the Howard B. Cohen Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award and the Female Athlete of the Year award.

Deno, who carries a 3.81 grade point average, captured the CoSIDA College Division Academic All-American of the Year award earlier this season, was named both an NAIA All-American (second team) and WBCA All-American (honorable mention), and became the second player in PNW history to net 2,000 career points.

Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors went to Reyes, the first PNW male CoSIDA Academic All-American in school history. Reyes, a senior defender for the two-time NAIA National Qualifier Pride men’s soccer team, is majoring in mechanical engineering and carries a 3.9 GPA.

Male Athlete of the Year went down as a tie, as both senior baseball player Matt Sandoval (Highland, Ind./Bishop Noll) and junior cross country runner Salvador Cordova (Hammond, Ind./Bishop Noll) were honored as co-winners. Sandoval currently leads the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference in ERA (1.48) and ranks third in the entire NAIA in the same category as the PNW baseball team heads into its conference tournament starting Friday.

Cordova had a breakout year for the PNW cross country squad, setting a new school record in the 8K (26:10) and becoming the third NAIA National qualifier in program history.

Senior men’s golfer Patrick Mudd (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) a history and political science double major, was awarded the prestigious John Friend Leadership Award, which honors student-athletes with exceptional work ethic, positive attitude and superb performance both on and off the playing field. Mudd has served as the Student Athlete Advisory Committee Secretary/Treasurer since 2015, carries a 3.7 GPA, organized all SAAC Miracle Minutes and two SAAC dodgeball tournaments to help raise more than $1,200 for Make-A-Wish Foundation; serves a president of the Political Science Honors Society; is vice president of the History Honors Society and is a four-year member of the golf team, where he earned the first all-conference honor in PNW history with his recent sixth-place finish at the CCAC Championships.

Wrapping up the special award winners was the Male and Female Freshman of the Year awards, which were given to rookies Grant Ugarte (Oak Lawn, Ind./Oak Lawn) of men’s soccer and Brooke Ahrens (Covington, Ind./Covington) of volleyball, respectively. Both players earned their respective sports’ CCAC Freshman of the Year awards after outstanding rookie campaigns last fall.

Other award winners were as follows:

Chancellor’s Cup (awarded to team with highest GPA)

Women’s Basketball

Most Improved Female Athlete 

Darien Thompson, Women’s Basketball

Most Improved Male Athlete 

Cody Moskovsky, Baseball

Commitment to Community 

Kayla Elsea, Volleyball

Pride-Hustle-Desire (Female) 

Jessica Kiser, Women’s Basketball

Pride-Hustle-Desire (Male) 

Moritz Gisy, Men’s Tennis

Sportsmanship Award 

Chandler Spring, Men’s Basketball

Best Breakthrough Performance 

Cassidy Deno’s 50-Point Game vs Olivet Nazarene

Community Cares Challenge 


Most Spirited Team 


Most Improved Team 

Men’s Tennis