Wagner’s Phil Faccone and Robert Morris’ Nicole Sleith Named NEC Student-Athletes of the Year - Northeast Conference Skip To Main Content


The Official Site of the Northeast Conference
The Official Site of the Northeast Conference


WC's Phil Faccone & RMU's Nicole Sleith
WC's Phil Faccone & RMU's Nicole Sleith

Wagner’s Phil Faccone and Robert Morris’ Nicole Sleith Named NEC Student-Athletes of the Year


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Somerset, NJ --
The Northeast Conference (NEC) honored the best-of-the-best on Friday when it named Wagner football player Phil Faccone (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) and Robert Morris softball player Nicole Sleith (Smithton, PA/Yough) as the 2014-15 NEC Male and Female Student Athletes of the Year, respectively.  The honor recognizes individual excellence in both the academic and athletic realms as well as leadership and contributions to one’s community.  This marks the first year a male and female award winner have been chosen.
“The competition for the NEC Male and Female Athletes of the Year was incredibly fierce this year, with so many talented student-athletes who presented amazing academic, athletic and community service achievements,” said Noreen Morris, NEC Commissioner.  “I am so pleased to congratulate Nicole and Phil on earning this prestigious award.  They are tremendous representatives of the NEC student-athlete community and epitomize the values of being a Division I college-athlete!”

Faccone’s honor is the latest in a long line of accomplishments for the senior, who helped lead Wagner to a share of the NEC football title this past fall.

Faccone graduated with a 3.79 grade point average that was boosted by a perfect 4.0 GPA in his senior year.  A member of the NEC Academic Honor Roll, the Sociology major was also named to the ADA Academic All Star Team and was the recipient of Wagner football’s Dr. Michael Mazzie Academic Award.  Faccone was elected President of the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) National Leadership Honor Society and to the Executive Board of the Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honor Society.

Most notably, Faccone was tabbed to the prestigious AFCA/Allstate Good Works Team last September.  He was one of 22 honorees who dedicated their time to succeeding on the field and also made the commitment to enriching the lives of others while contributing to the greater good of their communities.  Faccone and the Good Works Team members were recognized at halftime of the 2015 Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans.

A long snapper, Faccone earned his second straight Sports Network All-America honor, landing a spot on the second team.  The Brick, NJ native saw action in all 11 games for the Seahawks, helping Wagner compile a 7-4 record.  He was invited to play in the FCS National Bowl in Miami last December.

Faccone’s work off the field and in the community were extraordinary to say the least.

Faccone served as Wagner SAAC President and VP of Community Service, while also taking on a role as Wagner football’s Leadership Council Member.

Faccone directed and/or participated in a host of community service initiatives, including Wagner’s Annual Bone Marrow Registry Drive and the Crescent Beach Restoration Project, which aided one of the many Staten Island communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy.  He was also the organizer and participant for March of Dimes, speaking to children at 15 different Staten Island elementary schools, and Operation Christmas Child, where he packed a Wagner record 300 shoeboxes full of gifts for children around the world.  Faccone also directed visits to the Staten Island Children’s Hospital on holidays and took part in Canned Castle, an initiative that saw children build castles with canned goods, then donate the cans to Project Hospitality.

“I know I speak for everyone at Wagner College, and within our athletic department, in congratulating Phil on being named the NEC Male Student-Athlete of the Year,” said Walt Hameline, who coached Faccone and also serves as Wagner Director of Athletics.  “Throughout his four years here, Phil has been a model student-athlete and has also made outstanding contributions with respect to community service as his selection to the 2014 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team attests.  I’m thrilled for Phil and proud of all that he has accomplished.”

A Biomedical Engineering major, Sleith is participating in RMU’s integrated bachelor/master program and intends to earn a Master of Science in Engineering Management this December.  She plans to pursue a career in the medical research field of engineering.  Sleith concluded her senior year with a cumulative 3.72 grade point average, and for the second straight year was one of just 16 DI pitchers to earn Capital One Academic All-District first team honors for her combined academic and athletic exploits.  She is also a three-time NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete (with the 2015 awards still to come) and was named an RMU Dean’s Scholar by the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science.

Sleith became synonymous with Robert Morris softball during her four years on the mound in Moon Township.  She finished as the first four-time NFCA All-Region honoree in school history and was one of just 11 players nationally - and one of three outside a Power Five conference - to claim all-region accolades in each of the past four seasons.  Sleith also made history within the Conference this past May as just the second three-time NEC Pitcher of the Year award winner.  

Sleith accumulated 22 wins in leading the Colonials to the 2015 NEC regular season title.  She entered the postseason with a 1.65 ERA and completed a career-high 31 of her 34 starts in her final collegiate campaign.  Sleith broke the school’s single-season strikeout record, and tied the NEC’s single-season K mark with 296, as she averaged more than nine strikeouts per seven innings, a career-best.  She not only led the league in strikeouts but also ranks among the top-10 in the nation.  Sleith spun a career-best nine shutouts in 2015, the most by a Colonial since 1998 and one of the top-10 marks nationally entering the NCAA Tournament.  The Smithton, PA native put forth the most impressive performance of her career by tossing a perfect game in a 2015 NEC Tournament elimination contest.  She retired each of the 21 batters she faced while tossing a no-hitter for the third consecutive season.

Sleith broke the RMU career strikeout record during an NEC sweep in April, and finished with 932 in her four years.  She also broke the Colonial all-time wins record by picking up her 78th victory during the 2015 postseason.  Among active Division I athletes, Sleith ranks among the top-10 in career strikeouts, shutouts (27), complete games (98) and saves (13).

Sleith led Robert Morris to three NEC regular season conference championships in her four years and was instrumental in helping the Colonials to a program-record 35 wins in 2012.

Off the field, Sleith took on leadership duties for a number of community service and on-campus initiatives.

Sleith serves on the board of No Roof Knapsacks, a non-profit organization that seeks to help the homeless in the greater Pittsburgh region.  The group collects food, clothing and other basic need items and distributes them in backpacks to local homeless.  Sleith also volunteered her time with RMU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where she helped organize a volleyball tournament to raise funds for breast cancer research.  She contributed to causes such as Adopt-a-Highway, Pittsburgh Road Cleanup and Relay for Life, and also displayed her willingness to lead when she served as a group leader of high school students at the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Sportsmanship Summit.

“We are extremely proud that Nicole has won this very prestigious award,” said Craig Coleman, who serves as both RMU Director of Athletics and as Sleith’s softball coach.  “She has demonstrated excellence on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.  She was blessed with great intelligence and athleticism, and our athletic program has been blessed by having her as a part of it for the last four years.”

Weighing one’s leadership ability, athletic prowess, academic achievement and community service, the NEC Student-Athlete of the Year award was formerly known as the NEC SAAC Student-Athlete of the Year award.  One student-athlete was honored annually from 2003 to 2014, before the award was renamed and the decision was made to recognize one male and one female student-athlete per academic year.

Northeast Conference Student-Athlete of the Year Award Winners
2014-15       Phil Faccone, Wagner (male)
                      Nicole Sleith, Robert Morris (female)
2013-14       Meredith Ketchmark, Wagner
2012-13       Steve Cioicci, Wagner
2011-12       Julia Prantl, Fairleigh Dickinson
2010-11       Katherine Bossardet, CCSU
2009-10       Kundayi Mawema, Bryant
2008-09       Alexandra Tomlinson, Wagner
2007-08       Tiffany Hahn, Monmouth
2006-07       Erika Jacobs, Saint Francis U
2005-06       Joy Gallagher, Wagner
2004-05       Beth Swink, Saint Francis U
2003-04       Naomi Campano, Mount St. Mary’s
2002-03       Sabrina Mariani, CCSU

About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 34th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30).  Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 22 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google+, all @NECsports.