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Irvine Valley's 2011-12 male and female scholar athletes of the year were honored on Tuesday in a luncheon by the Exchange Club of Irvine.
The college's female scholar athlete of the year was sophomore women's basketball player Melanie Kashanchi and its male scholar athlete of the year was Kevin Ringuette.
Kashanchi is one of the most versatile players to come through the Irvine Valley women’s basketball program.
A two-year starter and two-year all-Orange Empire Conference player, she battled back from a serious knee injury to help Irvine Valley have one of its better seasons and make the Southern California Regional Playoffs this past year.
In 2010-11 she averaged 8.7 points and 4.9 rebounds, scoring in double figures in 15 games in a season in which she was named 2nd team all-conference. Following reconstructive knee surgery and eight months of rehab, Kashanchi averaged 8.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game during the 2011-12 season.
She scored in double figures in seven games and had a season-high 13 rebounds in Irvine Valley's win at Riverside. She was named second team all-conference for the second straight year as Irvine Valley finished with a record of 18-13 overall.
Kashanchi, a local product from Northwood High in Irvine, was also a standout in the classroom. She is a two-time IVC Scholar-Athlete honoree. She has compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.95 in 64 units, and two fulltime semesters of 4.0. Only one ‘B’ is found on her transcript.
An Economics major, Kashanchi plans on law school following her undergraduate experience. She has been admitted to UCLA and UC Berkeley, but is still considering the elite Liberal Arts opportunities at Claremont McKenna, who is recruiting her aggressively.
Kashanchi has also been named one of Irvine Valley’s Character of Champion award winners for all of the hard work she also does off the court, including efforts in breast cancer awareness and fundraising, volunteering at the Blind Children’s Center and being involved with the Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County and the Iranian American Women’s Conference.
“Melanie is the consummate leader on and off the court,” IVC Coach Julie Hanks said. “She showed compassion and caring for her teammates all of the time. Mel played very well this season, but she was happiest when a little used reserve player played well. It was all she could talk about after a game. She remains a role model for the entire team in the classroom, as her grade point average reflects.
"She worked extremely hard every day in practice, even while recovering from a devastating knee injury. Mel always played as hard as she could against every opponent. She gained respect with her effort and in how she treated each opponent with honor and respect.”
Ringuette was a two-year player on the Irvine Valley men’s volleyball team and a member of IVC’s 2011 state championship squad.
He was a walk-on in the Fall of 2010 out of Tesoro High, but earned a starting role in the Spring of 2011 and was named a starter and Captain for the 2012 campaign.
As a two-year starter, Ringuette was instrumental in extending IVC’s eight-year streak of playoff appearances. Although he missed part of both the 2011 and 2012 seasons because of injury, he led the Lasers to a record of 27-14 over two years. He averaged 2.07 kills and hit .319 during the 2011 season and averaged 1.6 kills during the 2012 campaign.
Ringuette did all of that after battling back to defeat testicular cancer in the midst of his freshman volleyball campaign. He dealt with chemotherapy, weight loss, forced inactivity and a susceptibility to illness. his cancer is in remission and he has made the most of his opportunities on and off the volleyball court at Irvine Valley.
As a student, Ringuette has been a model of consistency and achievement despite the issues he’s had to face. A Math major already accepted into Cal State Fullerton’s Mathematics program, he carries a 3.7 cumulative GPA. Ringuette also tutors fellow students at IVC as part of the college’s peer tutoring program. He has become the program’s most-requested tutor from among all subjects, and has been offered a job in a tutoring start-up business by a math professor at Saddleback College.
Ringuette is also a part-time volleyball coach with two different organizations. He has also been a volunteer leader at the high school ministry of his church, a big part of the church’s college group and helps lead community related church projects whenever he can.
“This kid is the most amazing one we have ever coached here at IVC,” Coach Tom Pestolesi said. “He worked his way up from almost being cut in the fall. It is a testament to Kevin, as never stopped working hard, and when he earned an opportunity, he took advantage of it. We were devastated after he told us he was diagnosed with cancer. But it was Kevin who led us through this difficult time. Kevin was never down.
"Kevin went through surgery and before the season was over he came back and played in the State finals match after missing six weeks. Throughout all of this, he was the teammate keeping everyone fired up, he stayed positive and no matter how bad he was feeling he made you feel special.”