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WWBlue awards ceremony caps off monumental year for WWU athletics

Western’s athletic department hosted its annual award event honoring students, coaches and faculty

Western Washington University’s three NCAA trophies from this year sit with other awards on a display table between the Robert S. Harrington and Viking Fields in Bellingham, Wash., on June 5, 2024. Over 15 trophies from the year were on display. // Photo by Cameron Riggers

Close to 300 student-athletes, coaches, staff and faculty at Western Washington University attended the WWBlue awards ceremony between the Robert S. Harrington and Viking Fields on Wednesday afternoon. The event rewarded all of the work put in throughout the year with a party featuring pizza, drinks and a plethora of awards that were handed out to athletes.

Jim Sterk, who concluded his first year as the athletic director at Western, spoke to the overall importance of the program’s success and how celebrating the year’s triumphs made it all worthwhile.

“It’s very special to us that we get to honor our own, having won 10 conference titles, a national title and two runner-ups,” Sterk said. “And as impressive as they are academically and athletically, they’re a great group of people that represent Western in a very positive way.”

Western recently won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Sports Championship after having won eight regular season conference championships and two conference tournament championships. With women’s cross-country and softball winning NCAA regionals, as well as women’s rowing winning its ninth NCAA Division II title in program history, there was a lot to celebrate.

Senior track & field athlete Kevin McDermott was the recipient of Male Athlete of the Year. He praised the support he’s received from Western’s athletic community.

“Not only on my team, but the whole athletic department is so welcoming and supportive of each other and everybody,” McDermott said. “Everybody’s here with the same goal of winning championships in mind. Being surrounded by people like that lifts everyone.”

Meanwhile, freshman softball player Maleah Andrews was the winner of Female Athlete of the Year, largely due to her performances during the GNAC and NCAA tournaments, where she helped lead the Vikings to an appearance in the Division II National Championship. 

“With such a team that we had, I think it was in the cards for us,” Andrews said. “We had talked about [making it to the College World Series] at the beginning of the season, and once we got there we kept that grit and battled. It’s something we had to keep our minds to.”

Athlete of the Year wasn’t the only recognition Andrews would receive on Wednesday, as her walk-off home run against California State University, Dominguez Hills in the Super Regionals was recognized as one of the Moments of the Year. 

“Once that ball was off my bat and I saw it go over, it was a relief to be done and be on our way to Florida,” Andrews said. “We have such a great athletics community, it’s a great thing to be able to connect together and be able to share these things with them.”

Many others received awards on Wednesday, such as Stephanie Peterson, Claire Henninger, Marian Ledesma and Albin Jonsson, all of whom were named Scholar Athletes of the Year, an award given to the students with the best academic track record.

“It’s always a wonderful opportunity to wrap up the year by celebrating all the accomplishments of our student-athletes both academically and athletically,” assistant athletic director Butch Kamena said. “All of our student-athletes work very hard and do very well in the classroom, and it’s attested to by the number of academic awards that we’ve received.”

Cameron Riggers

Cameron Riggers is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front. He writes about the Western Hockey League for and can often be found at a rink around the Pacific Northwest. You can follow his work on Twitter/X @cammriggs and on Instagram @cammriggs1 and can reach him at

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