Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Capital's Niekamp, Sommer, Goodwin earn OAC recognition
By Robb Hemmelgarn
St. Henry High School graduate and Capital University Crusader Spencer Niekamp received word late last week that not many have the opportunity to hear at the end of their athletic careers.
Following a successful campaign for the Crusaders on the basketball court, Niekamp earned the Dick Reynolds Award, which goes annually to the Ohio Athletic Conference's Player of the Year in men's basketball.
"It definitely wasn't something that I expected as the season was progressing. We started rolling late as a team and I think that helped," admitted Niekamp, who led Capital with 15.1 points per game and nearly six rebounds per game. "I had the worst stats of the other guys on the first team, so it makes this award even more of an honor."
Niekamp, who also earned first team All-OAC accolades as a junior last season, immediately phoned back to St. Henry to speak with his parents, Joe and Cheryl Niekamp.
"They were really happy and proud of me for what I accomplished," said Niekamp, who was top 10 in the OAC in points per game, rebounds per game and second in three-point percentage. "I found out on Friday and they were coming to Columbus the next day anyway, so we were looking forward to having a great weekend."
Unfortunately for Niekamp and his teammates, the emotional burst from the individual honors quickly deflated when the top-seeded Crusaders fell to Mount Union in the semifinal round of the OAC tournament. Capital finished its season with a record of 19-7 and the tourney loss squashed the Crusaders' chances of playing in the Division III national tournament.
"It was definitely an emotional weekend to go from being named Player of the Year to playing your last game in college basketball the very next day," explained Niekamp, a marketing major. "It was a great season though. Knowing it was the last ride for me and the other seniors made it even more special."
In the final game of his career, Niekamp scored 21 points and was joined in double digits by fellow Crusaders forward and Celina graduate Michael Sommer, who contributed 15 points. Sommer also raked in All-OAC honors this season as he was named to the conference's second team after averaging nearly 13 points per game and a little more than four rebounds per game.
"I am honored to earn the accolades that I received with the award. I have a lot of high expectations for myself, so it is a great honor," remarked Sommer, who was named honorable mention by the OAC as a junior last season. "Although I was excited, I would trade in all of the individual honors for the opportunity to still be playing."
Another local rounding out OAC recognition for Capital was Crusaders' veteran head coach Damon Goodwin, a former St. Marys and University of Dayton standout. Goodwin was named as the OAC's Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and for the fifth time in the past seven years.