By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
The College of the Canyons Athletic Department has announced its Student-Athlete Academic Excellence Award winners for the 2019-20 academic year.
To be eligible for this award student-athletes must have competed in their sport for two seasons and demonstrate tremendous leadership qualities, with the student’s combined GPA also a determining factor in recognizing award winners.
The 2019-20 honorees are:
Elizabeth Gannon, Women’s Volleyball
Jules Lavigne, Men’s Golf
Una Stanisavljevic, Women’s Tennis
Kilian Zierer, Football
Gannon achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, one of just 80 COC graduates to reach that mark, which grants her the status of valedictorian. The kinesiology major will be transferring to California State University at Northridge in the fall, where she will also continue her athletic career. She is the third COC women’s volleyball player to transfer to an NCAA Division I program since 2017.
A two-time All-Western State Conference (WSC) honoree at the libero position, Gannon completed the 2019 regular season with 272 digs, 61 aces and 24 assists while playing in all 75 sets. She tied for the conference lead in aces and ranked seventh in digs, while helping the Lady Cougars to a seventh straight postseason appearance.
“On behalf of the whole Lady Cougars program we want to say congratulations,” said COC women’s volleyball head coach Clay Timmons. “It’s an amazing honor that you’ve earned. We’re so proud of you. Go Cougs! Go Matadors!”
Lavigne maintained a 3.74 GPA across three semesters while earning an associate degree in economics. Arriving at COC by way of Vanves, France, Lavigne will next be transferring to Sonoma State University after playing a key role in the Cougars’ 2019 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state championship run.
In addition to helping Canyons win state, SoCal Region and WSC titles, Lavigne was a member of both the 2019 All-State and All-WSC squads. He finished that year’s state championship event No. 3 overall with a two-day, two-over-par score of 146 to finish four shots back of the leader.
Lavigne was also in the midst of another outstanding season in 2020 before the Cougars had the remainder of their spring schedule suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Congratulations on an outstanding two years at College of the Canyons,” said COC men’s golf head coach Gary Peterson. “From the first time I met you I knew that you were a great guy, a leader and that you’ll be a success in whatever you try to do.”
Stanisavljevic earned an associate degree in liberal arts & sciences with an emphasis in social & behavioral sciences. She posted a perfect 4.0 GPA and will be recognized as a college valedictorian, in addition to being selected as a member of the 2019 Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Scholar Team. Stanisavljevic will be transferring to the University of Southern California in the fall, where she plans to study journalism.
As a freshman in 2019, Stanisavljevic finished the regular season with a 12-4 individual record and 10-3 mark in WSC play. In doing so she became the first player in COC program history to earn all-conference honors after being named to the All-WSC Second-Team as a singles player.
In 2020, Stanisavljevic helped lead the Lady Cougars to a 9-2 team record and 5-2 mark vs. conference opponents including six straight victories to begin the season. Those numbers represent the best season record in the women’s tennis program’s three-year history, despite the program’s having its final seven matches canceled due to COVID-19.
“Congratulations on receiving this award,” said COC women’s tennis head coach Patty LaBat. “It’s been a pleasure having you on the team the past two years. I will miss you, but can’t wait to see what you’ll do in the future at USC.”
Zierer left COC after three semesters, earning a 3.73 GPA, an associate degree and a full athletic scholarship to the University of Auburn in the process. A native of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Germany, Zierer, who enrolled at Auburn for the spring 2020 semester will continue to study exercise science.
A key member of COC’s back-to-back Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League championship teams in 2018 and 2019, Zierer was also a two-time all-conference selection at the left tackle position.
Prior to the 2019 campaign he was named to the College Football America Yearbook Junior College Preseason Starting Lineup, one of just 10 players from CCCAA programs to be included in the preseason designation. He is the third Cougar to transfer to a Southeastern Conference (SEC) school since 2017.
“On behalf of myself and the entire College of the Canyons football program I want to congratulate you,” said COC football head coach Ted Iacenda. “We are so proud of all that you have achieved during your time with us here at College of the Canyons, and we look forward to watching you shine at Auburn University. This I Promise!”
In all, the college’s 2020 graduating class includes 85 student-athletes, with a combined GPA of 3.30, who will be earning an associate degree and/or transferring to a four-year school.
COC student-athletes will soon be heading to four-year schools including: CSU Northridge, Sonoma State University, University of Southern California, Auburn University, UC Riverside, UC Merced, CSU Fullerton, San Jose State University, Washington State University, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Middle Tennessee State University, Arkansas State University, Abilene Christian University, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Mercer University, University of Redlands, Dean College, Mt. Mercy University, Montana State University, Wagner College, North Carolina Central University, Texas Wesleyan University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Northeastern State University, St. Mary’s University, CSU Los Angeles, The Master’s University, University of La Verne, St. Mary’s University, Nebraska Wesleyan University and University of Redlands.