Men’s Athlete of the Year
Orlando Johnson — Basketball
Sophomore transfer? Try sophomore savior. After sitting out a year due to the NCAA’s mandatory transfer rule, swingman Orlando Johnson led UCSB to its first NCAA Tournament in eight years. On his way to the Big West MVP award, O.J. averaged 18 points per game, was second on the team with over five rebounds per game, and hit several clutch shots down the stretch in conference play. The former Loyola Lion also scored 20 points against national contender Ohio State in March Madness. With a grip of young talent surrounding him in the form of forwards James Nunnally, Jaime Serna and center Greg Somogyi, the Gauchos will be a conference contender for years to come.
Women’s Athlete of the Year
Rebecca Saraceno — Volleyball
Senior outside hitter Rebecca Saraceno dominated offensive play for the Gauchos in a breakout season that included the team’s first NCAA berth in quite some time. Despite being injured midseason from a crash into the scorer’s table, the Big West women’s volleyball player of the year teamed with junior standout Dana Vargas in being named to the national All-American Honorable Mention team, averaging 4.45 kills per set and 2.66 digs per set. Despite the loss of her big bopper, Head Coach Kathy Gregory will have a reliable set of players at her disposal going forward.
Coach of the Year
“Cowboy” Bob Williams — Basketball
It had been eight seasons since the UCSB men’s basketball team made the Big Dance before the 2009-2010 campaign. Bob Williams changed that this year. With cowboyesque poise, Williams helmed a solid sophomore-laden squad to a conference title in the regular season, followed by a Big West Tournament championship and the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth. While Ohio State may have overmatched the Gauchos, Cowboy Bob’s squad proved that UCSB basketball has still got it, which is enough to earn this lasso-touting head coach the best-of-year honors.
Team of the Year
Track & Field
Want success? Six Gauchos have qualified or auto-advanced to the NCAA Championships in track and field this Spring. Julian deRubira, Danielle Domenichelli, Jane Doolittle, Ryan Martin, Barbara Nwaba and Kayla Smith are all continuing their seasons with the best of the best at the NCAA Championships and will look to represent UCSB proudly. While some playoff-making Gaucho squads could very well deserve this honor, the track squad just had too much success this year to pass up. So congrats to our Gaucho runners: You guys earned top honors this year.