Sophomore basketball players Kasey Smit and Zane Paddon have been named Irvine Valley's Female and Male Champion of Character Award, respectively for the 2017-18 school year.
The awards are given to the student athletes who displays the following values; sportsmanship, respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility shown through a specific action, ideally directed toward an opponent during competition.
The criteria also includes the action of putting the team and teammates before oneself while acting as a positive role model.
Each college in the Orange Empire Conference names a male and female student-athlete winner.
The inaugural awards were given out following the 2009-10 academic year. Since its inception, the OEC Character Champion Award has been sponsored by Fair-Play Scoreboards.
Smit epitomized the traits that the Irvine Valley athletics department values in a student-athlete of character. Team Captain and representative on the IVC Dean's Council for Student-Athletes, Smit was most deserving of the nomination.
As an athlete, she was named the Most Valuable Player of the Orange Empire Conference by the conference coaches. Smit led IVC to a record of 26-5 overall, 13-1 in the conference an OEC co-championship and the second ever appearance for the IVC program in the state tournament.
IVC finished the season ranked No. 8 in the final CCCSIA state poll after their season ended in the State quarterfinals.
Smit finished her IVC career ranked first all-time in rebounds in a season with 408, and in points in a season with 593.
She was also named the CCCSIA female athlete of the month for January after finishing the month averaging 24.1 points, 14.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.9 blocks a game as the Lasers went 9-0 in January.
For the 2017-18 season, Smit had games of 39 and 34 points. Her 39 points against Riverside tied for the second-best total for a game in program history.
She finished the year averaging 19.1 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. She had 22 double-doubles on the year and was also shooting 48.0 percent from the floor.
Smit has signed to continue playing at NCAA Division II Cal Poly Pomona in the fall.
"I want to be remembered for not only being a great player, but being a great person," Smit said. "I want my teammates and coaches to remember me as someone who played their best, never gave up and was always the first and the last person in the gym.
"I want to be remembered for being honest, loyal and dedicated to my team. At the end of my playing career, I want my teammates, coaches, supporters and opponents to not only remember my athletic abilities, but to remember and respect me as a player and a person."
Paddon was among several men's basketball student-athletes considered for this award. But in representing men's basketball on the IVC Dean's Council for Student-Athletes, his work within the athletics program made it an easy choice.
A two-year player in the post for IVC, Paddon was named captain by his peers for his sophomore season. He responded with career highs in points (6.3 per game), rebounds (4.7 per game) and minutes.
Paddon is also a two-time IVC Scholar-Athlete.
Pending his spring 2018 grades, he will graduate in May with an AA in Accounting and a perfect 4.00 GPA.
He will transfer and play at the four year level at NCAA Division II San Francisco State in the fall.
In our community, Paddon sees the importance in returning the favors given to him in him as part of his fortunate upbringing in Orange County.
Foremost has been the donation of his time and energy to volunteer hours for the last six years for youth housed in alternative situations due to abusive family lives.
"I really enjoyed watching the smiles that could be put on the face of a child when they realize they do something that they didn't think that they could. It is one of those win/win situations because they were able to put a smile back on my face, and help me recognize (even when I was younger) that I have been blessed," he said.
Paddon has also remained a volunteer for two youth basketball organizations since his high school days.
"I can't remember a time where I didn't feel an obligation to my teammates, coaches and family as it relates to the way I carry myself," he said. "Usually that's off the court, but I've learned it is equally true when I represent myself and others while in competition.
"There was a game during my freshman year at IVC where my nose was broken at one end of the court. Before realizing that blood was streaming from my nose, I ran full speed down the court and proceeded to block not one but two shots by the player who injured me. Instead of retaliating back with a blow to his nose, I chose to rise above and 'retaliate' with good hard sportsmanship within the rules of basketball."