Sigi Koizar appeared to be a little nervous on Monday night when she stepped to the podium to accept the Dean Smith Award during the University of Maine’s student-athlete recognition ceremony in Orono.

The junior from Vienna, Austria, became the second straight member of the women’s basketball team to earn the honor, which is presented annually by the “M” Club to UMaine’s top female and male student-athletes who have demonstrated outstanding academic and athletic achievement along with citizenship and community service.

Liz Wood took home the plaque last year.

“Sigi and Liz are both incredible, and they maximize their opportunities here,” said UMaine women’s basketball head coach Richard Barron. “Sigi does it in a little more quiet way than Liz.

“That’s a great example not only for the teammates and other athletes here, but especially the young kids in the community that look up to them. They’re tremendous role models,” he added.

Koizar, who was joined by track and field and cross-country runner Jesse Orach as a 2016 Smith Award recipient, earned a 4.0 grade point average during the 2015 calendar year.

Koizar, who is majoring in biology with a pre-medical concentration and a chemistry minor, also boasts a 3.957 cumulative GPA. It was announced during the evening that she had received only one A-minus in her time at UMaine, but when accepting her award, Koizar pointed out that she had actually gotten a B-plus in English.

“Still not my strong suit, but I’ve been working on it the past couple years,” a smiling Koizar said during her acceptance speech.

“Sigi has a real charm about her because she is so humble and very sweet and has a small stature,” Barron said.

Koizar goes into Wednesday night’s America East game against Vermont as the Black Bears’ leader in scoring (16.5 points per game), minutes played (34.0 mpg), 3-pointers (2.2 per game), 3-point percentage (.398), free throws (3.0 per game) and assists (4.0 apg).

In fact, Koizar needs only four points on Wednesday to become the program’s 20th 1,000-point scorer.

Academic achievement is something the entire UMaine women’s basketball team has embraced.

The Black Bears posted a cumulative team GPA of 3.561 during 2015, and each of the 16 players was recognized during Monday’s ceremonies for attaining at least a 3.0 GPA for 2015 or maintaining a cumulative 3.0 GPA.

“It’s not that they’re the smartest kid or that they want to be pre-med or anything like that, as much as it is they want to do well in the classroom,” Barron said. “They value academics, and they understand that it’s the No. 1 priority coming here.”

Wood earned a gold medal for her third such honor, as did senior classmates Anna Heise and Mikaela Gustafsson. Women’s basketball silver medalists included seniors Milica Mitrovic, Chantel Charles and Lauren Bodine, along with juniors Sheraton Jones and Koizar.

Seniors Sophie Weckstrom, Bella Swan, Parise Rossignol and Christiana Gerostergiou were bronze medalists, while newcomers Tanesha Sutton, Maddy McVicar and Isabel Hernandez Pepe were named “rising stars.”

“We’ve done well with overachievers. We’ve done well with blue-collar kids that want to work,” Barron said of the student-athletes’ collective commitment to excellence in the classroom.

UMaine has maintained its high academic performance even though English isn’t the native language for seven of them.

“I’m certainly very proud of them, but I think that’s less a reflection of what we’re doing right or I’m doing right and more a reflection of their values and who they are as people,” Barron said.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...