A rising professional tennis player, a National Hockey League Hall of Famer, a standout collegiate football player, and nine scholar-athletes are among the 2020 athletic honorees of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA), announced by Supreme President George G. Horiates and Gregory J. Stamos, head of the National Athletic Awards Selection Committee.
“We are proud to recognize Hellenes who excel in their respective sports or sports industry, display excellence in the classroom, and exemplify volunteerism within their respective communities,” Horiates said. “We congratulate and applaud our honorees also for their commitment to perpetuating and promoting these ideals, which are all part of our mission.”
He added, “I commend AHEPA’s National Athletic Department, led by Supreme Athletic Director Chris Atsaves and Gregory J. Stamos, who chairs the Athletic Awards Selection Committee, for their dedication to honoring our exceptional athletes and those in the sports industry.”
The National Athletic Awards are presented annually at the AHEPA Family Supreme Convention. Due to the cancelation of the 2020 Supreme Convention, AHEPA will arrange for their presentation at a future date and venue.
Rising Tennis Pro, College Football Standout Receive National Honors
Stefanos Tsitsipas, professional tennis player, is selected to be awarded the 2020 AHEPA-Harry Agganis Most Outstanding Hellenic Athlete Award. Tsitsipas, who turns 22 in August, is the youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals. He holds a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world, making him the highest-ranked Greek player in history.
George Karlaftis, collegiate football player, Purdue University, is selected to receive the AHEPA William Chirgotis Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Award. As a freshman playing defensive end, Karlaftis was named First-team Associated Press Freshman All-American and Second-team All-Big Ten. In high school, Karlaftis was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today and was selected to the All-American Bowl.
Five to be Inducted into the Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame
The 2020 Class of the AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame will include:
- Chris Chelios, Evergreen Park, Ill., National Hockey League Hall of Fame member and three-time Stanley Cup champion;
- George John, Shoreline, Wash., professional soccer player;
- Eleni Rossides, Kensington, Md., tennis player and executive;
- Stamos (“Tom”) Mazerakis, New York, N.Y., Greek National Baseball; and
- Christopher Soukas (posthumously), Ioanninon, Greece, wrestling.
Chris Chelios. A 2013 member of the National Hockey League Hall of Fame, in 2017 Chelios was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history. Through a professional hockey career that spanned 26 years and 1,651 games with the Montreal Canadians, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers, he won three Stanley Cups, earned three Norris Trophies as the league’s top defenseman, and appeared in 11 All-Star games. Chelios was a member of four U.S. Olympic hockey teams, captaining three of them, including the 2002 Silver Medal winning team. He has been inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and was an All-American at the University of Wisconsin where he was a member of the 1983 National Championship team.
George John. A first-round draft pick of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas, John, a defender, played five seasons for the team, helping it win the 2010 Western Conference Championship and set a franchise-best goals against average of 0.93. John played collegiate soccer at the University of Washington where he was selected First Team All-PAC Ten and was an NCAA Scholar All-American. In 2008, John was named the PAC-10 Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In 2010, AHEPA presented John with the AHEPA-Harry Agganis Award.
Stamos (“Tom”) Mazerakis. In 2004, Mazerakis formed the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation and was instrumental in Greece’s fielding a team for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He has coached the Greek National team in numerous European Championship tournaments, including the 2011 Baseball World Cup; and in 2012, he organized the European World Cup Baseball Qualifier held in Athens.
Eleni Rossides. At Stanford University, Rossides was the number one player on a team that won four straight championships during her time there. As a professional singles player, Rossides ranked among the world’s top 200 women. She played a vital role in bringing tennis to Washington, D.C. as the Executive Director of the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation. Rossides is a member of the Washington DC Sports Hall of Fame. She follows in the footsteps of her father, the late Eugene Rossides, as a member of the AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame (Class of 1989).
Christopher Soukas. A 2018 member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame, Soukas was a finalist in two National AAU Wrestling titles. He won the Nationals in 1941 and came in second in 1942. Soukas was a three-time New York State Champion and a three-time YMCA National Champion. During a career that spanned more than 35 years, Soukas won more than 60 championships. He also supported amateur athletics as member of the Board of Directors of the New York Greek American Club and the German American Junior League soccer association.
The AHEPA Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 1974 by the late Supreme Athletic Director, Dr. Monte Kofos and now includes more than 150 inductees. Previous inductees include: Harry Agganis, Alex Karras, Milt Pappas, Pete Sampras, Eric Karros, Gene Rossides, Steve Lappas, Bob Costas, and Greg Louganis, among many others.
Nine 2020 Scholar-Athletes Named
Anthony Banis, Clayton, Calif., and Melina Christodoulou, Branchburg, N.J. are co-winners of the John Peter Vlahos Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is presented to outstanding high school scholar-athletes. Anthony was a member of the Varsity Crew Team at De La Salle High School, attained Academic Honors, served GOYA as an officer. He will row for the University of Washington crew team. Melina served as Student Council Vice-President at Somerville High School, earning 12 varsity letters as Captain of the tennis, swimming, and track teams. She was named the 2020 Skyland Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Melina will attend Drew University as a member of the Scholars Program and will play tennis and volleyball.
Athena Huntalas, San Diego, Calif., is the recipient of the Manchester Greats Scholarship Award. The award is presented for superior accomplishments in athletics and academics. At Del Norte High School, Athena was selected to the All-Palamar League Lacrosse team and was also a standout basketball player. Athena was named to the San Diego Union Tribune All-Academic Scholar-Athlete Team. She will attend the University of California, Davis.
Matthew Macrides and Marisa Macrides, Canton, Ohio, are co-recipients of the Past Supreme President Franklin R. Manios Scholar-Athlete and Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in academics, athletics, extra-curricular and community service. Matthew, a standout on the basketball, cross country and track teams in high school, completed his sophomore year at Ohio State University and attained the Dean’s List; and Marisa, a cross country and track and field standout, completed her freshman year at Ohio State University and attained the Dean’s List.
Nathaniel Martine, Zionsville, Ind., will receive the Past Supreme Athletic Director Dr. Monte N. Kofos Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is presented to an outstanding high school or collegiate athlete. Nathaniel completed his freshman year on the Indiana University nationally ranked volleyball team, with a 4.00 Dean’s List GPA. He also earned IU Founder’s Scholarship Award.
Ephemia Nicolakis, Woodbridge, Conn., is the winner of the Spanakos Brothers High School Scholar-Athlete Award. The award is endowed by Hall of Famers Petros and Nikos Spanakos and awarded for athletic and academic achievement. Ephemia excelled as a member of the Amity High School State Championship Volleyball team in 2019 and earned the Superintendent’s Student Award. She also was the Diocese’s District Oratorical Festival Awardee in 2018 and 2019. Ephemia will attend Quinnipiac University.
Anthony Rigas, Cypress, Texas, is the recipient of the Excellence in Athletics Award. The AHEPA Booster Club established the award to honor an outstanding Greek American high school athlete. At at Cy-Fair High School, Anthony was captain of and a 2019 Football Second-Team Academic All-Stater, as a 3 year varsity letterman, and a member of a State Championship Football Team. He also played water polo, track, and basketball. Anthony will attend Texas A&M University.
Emilea Zingas, Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., is the recipient of the Anthony Leondis Memorial Scholarship Award. The award is presented for superior accomplishments in athletics, academics, and the advancement of the community good. Emilea earned the 2018 National Silver Medalist as a member of the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) and the USFSA’s High Performance Development Team. Emilea was named to the Honor Society at Grosse Pointe South High School. She will attend Boston University.
“AHEPA is grateful to each of the benefactors and sponsors of these awards, and to the Athletic Committee Boosters and its supporters, all of who have contributed to the development of this marvelous program to recognized our student-athletes,” said Horiates.
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Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
AHEPA’s mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
For more information, please visit www.ahepa.org.