By Dylan Lux
Youngstown State University’s Athletic Department put together successful performances in the Horizon League during the 2022-23 academic year, which led the university to be awarded the James J. McCafferty Trophy.
This is the first time YSU holds sole possession of the trophy since joining the Horizon League in 2001-2002. YSU shared the trophy with Oakland University in 2021.
The trophy is named after the first commissioner of the Horizon League, James J. McCafferty. He was the head basketball coach of Loyola University New Orleans from 1954-57 and Xavier University from 1957-63.
McCafferty became commissioner of the Midwestern City Conference in 1979, which became the Horizon League in 1985.
John Gorby, head coach of men’s and women’s cross country team, said that the conference is very competitive and helps the team maintain peak form throughout competition.
YSU won the trophy based on point standings for sports that compete in the Horizon League. Men’s soccer and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball points are awarded based on combined regular-season and championship finishes.
For all other sports, points are based on performance in the Horizon League championships.
In women’s sports, Youngstown State earned 7 points from track & field and tennis, 3 from cross country and soccer and 2 from both basketball and softball.
On the men’s side, the Penguins finished with 7 points each from track & field, cross country and basketball, 5 points from tennis and 1 point from baseball.
Youngstown State conquered the Horizon League with 51 total points and a 4.5 point differential over second place Oakland.
Director of Athletics Ron Strollo spoke about the benefits of winning the McCafferty Trophy has brought to the university.
“It’s a measurement of the job we’re doing with the student-athletes,” Strollo said. “It adds to the experience for our student-athletes, kids have a lot better experience when they’re winning.”
Strollo also said the trophy brings pride to YSU and its alumni.
“Our kids go out every day whether it’s on or off the field representing YSU, and to have that kind of success hopefully brings a lot of pride back to the university and to our [alumni] across the country,” Strollo said.
Winning the McCafferty Trophy has brought more recognition to YSU. Senior goalie Brooklynn Kirkpatrick said the university deserves the acknowledgement and is proud to be a part of Youngstown State.
“Not enough people know about YSU, and … winning such a prestigious award puts our school on the map, and all the great things that come from this university and all the opportunities they give their athletes,” Kirkpatrick said. “[The trophy] will give us more respect and more recognition that we’ve deserved for a really long time, and I’m very proud to represent that.”
The McCafferty Trophy represents the overall athletic success, but YSU athletics has also earned the highest grade point averages in several programs in the Horizon League and on a national-level.
“On top of our graduation rates and grade point averages, I think it just adds to the prestige of being here and the fact that this is a successful place, whether this is academics or athletics,” Strollo said.