Courtesy: America East Communications

Six Standouts Named 2016-17 Fall Scholar-Athletes

Release: 02/02/2017

BOSTON — Six of America East’s top student-athletes who demonstrated excellence both athletically and academically are the America East 2016-17 Fall Scholar-Athletes as announced Thursday afternoon by the conference office. All-Americans Paula Heuser (field hockey) from University at Albany and Elinor Purrier (women's cross country) from University of New Hampshire headline the honorees and are joined by the Great Danes' Laini Leindecker (volleyball), the Wildcats' Chris Wingate (men's soccer), University of Hartford's Katie Connolly (women's soccer) and University of Maine's Jesse Orach (men's cross country).

2016-17 Fall America East Scholar-Athletes
Paula Heuser, Albany, Sr. - Field Hockey

  • Has a 3.91 GPA in business administration.
  • Third straight field hockey Scholar-Athlete honor.
  • Was an America East and NFHCA All-Academic selection for the third-straight year.
  • Tabbed a first-team All-American for the third-straight year. 
  • Named America East Midfielder of the year, becoming first America East student-athlete in any sport to win a major award all four years.

Elinor Purrier, New Hampshire, Jr. - Women's Cross Country

  • Has a 3.70 GPA in nutrition.
  • America East All-Academic selection.
  • Finished seventh at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, the best finish for an #AEXC student-athlete in six years, and earned first-team All-America status.
  • Crowned the America East individual champion in a championship record-setting time. 

Laini Leindecker, Sr., Albany - Volleyball 

  • Has a 3.71 GPA in human biology.
  • Repeat Scholar-Athlete selection.
  • Three time America East All-Academic selection.
  • Three-time America East All-Conference selection at outside hitter. 

Chris Wingate, Sr., New Hampshire - Men’s Soccer

  • Carries a 3.76 GPA in finance & information Systems/business analytics.
  • CoSIDA Academic and Senior CLASS Award All-American.
  • America East Presidential Scholar-Athlete.
  • Two-time America East Midfielder of the Year.

Katie Connolly, Sr., Hartford - Women's Soccer 

  • Has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA in psychology throughout her entire career.
  • CoSIDA Academic All-American.
  • Three-time America East Elite 17/18 Award winner.
  • Second-team All-Conference selection.

Jesse Orach, Sr., Maine - Men’s Cross Country

  • Graduated with a 3.95 GPA in chemical engineering and has a 4.0 GPA pursuing his MBA.
  • Third Scholar-Athlete honor.
  • Two-time America East Elite 17/18 Award winner. 
  • Was the men's individual champion at the 2017 America East Cross Country Championship.

The Scholar-Athletes were members of teams in the six championship sports which America East sponsored in the fall season including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball. Nominees were put forward by their institution, which could nominate up to one student-athlete per sport. Then, the conference's Student-Athlete Engagement committee chose an honoree in each of the six fall championship sports. Each America East Scholar-Athlete was a starter or prominent reserve and carries a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.50. They will automatically be eligible for the America East Female or Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year award to be announced this summer.

America East is proud to sponsor one of the most comprehensive academic awards programs in the country, honoring over 2,000 student-athletes each year via six unique award categories: 

  • All-Academic teams comprised of student-athletes that excel both academically and athletically are chosen in each of the conference's 17 sports by a committee consisting of faculty athletic representatives, academic advisors and sports information directors.
  • Scholar-Athletes, the best student-athlete who excels both athletically and academically, are chosen in each sport while an overall Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year is also chosen.
  • The conference recognizes all student-athletes who achieve at least a 3.0 GPA on its Academic Honor Roll, with those achieving a 3.5 average or better receiving Commissioner's Honor Roll status.
  • Presidential Scholar-Athlete awards are bestowed to student-athletes who graduate with a 3.75 GPA.
  • Elite 17 awards the student-athlete with the highest GPA competing in each of America East 17 championships.
  • The Academic Cup is awarded to the school with the highest cumulative GPA among its student-athletes for that academic year.

About America East: The America East provides its member schools and their athletic programs a platform upon which student-athletes can achieve both collegiate and life success through the promotion and nurturing of athletic excellence, academic achievement and leadership, on and off the field.