Fullerton's Perez and Irvine Valley's Zsibrita named 2021 Orange Empire Nevco Character Champion Award winners

2021 Nevco Character Champion Award winners Steve Perez (Fullerton) and Soliel Zsibrita (Irvine Valley)
2021 Nevco Character Champion Award winners Steve Perez (Fullerton) and Soliel Zsibrita (Irvine Valley)

RIVERSIDE - Each year, the Orange Empire Conference (OEC) selects one male and one female student athlete from each member college to the Nevco Character Champion Team while naming two top winners of the Nevco Character Champion Award. Irvine Valley College's Soliel Zsibrita and Fullerton College's Steve Perez have been named this year's recipients.

This award is given to the student-athletes who displays the following values; sportsmanship, respect, caring, fairness, civility, honesty, integrity and responsibility shown through a specific action, ideally directed toward an opponent during competition.

The criteria also includes the action of putting the team and teammates before oneself while acting as a positive role model. The inaugural award was given out following the 2009-10 academic year.

Zsibrita, a captain of IVC's women's tennis team, has been a leader on and off the court during these challenging times.

On the court, she was a leader on the undefeated 2020 campaign prior to the season's shutdown. She was a member of the top doubles team while holding own the number two position in singles. and was named the IVC Athlete of the Week.

"I recently became the team captain of the women's tennis team," said Zsibrita. "I've been trying to make sure our team is ready to compete, checking up on everyone's morale and mental health."

Academically, she is at the top of her game. She has been recognized as an IVC Scholar-Athlete while maintaining a 3.9 GPA in 68 units. In addition, she is Summa Cum Laude while earning her Associate of Science for transfer. She is working to earn an AA in Business Administration at the conclusion of the 2021 Spring semester.

"I have tried being more of a role model this year, whether it's in practice or just making a greater effort than last year to be inclusive and work on team bonding."

Perez acted as a game-changer, not only for the Fullerton men's soccer team, but for the program as a whole.

"Steve Perez is one of the greatest men I have ever coached," said Fullerton Head Coach Greg Aviles. "He is the embodiment of our program motto; Faith, Family Futbol. And for him, it is always that order. His integrity is unmatched as he is a tremendous leader to his teammates. I feel truly honored and blessed to be his coach as he has given so much to me, his teammates and this community."

Serving as the captain on the men's soccer team, Perez has helped the Hornets earned consecutive OEC titles while being named to the All-Conference, All- Southern Region and All-State teams.

Off the pitch, Perez is an active community member at his local church and Fullerton community cleanups. He participates as the drummer of the worship team and leads Bible studies at the Centro Familiar Rios de Vida Church.

College Male Female
Cypress Dakota Nering Jayda Steele
Fullerton   Clarissa Hernandez
Golden West Ricky Tiedemann Emma Mehus
Irvine Valley Aaron Strings  
Orange Coast Eric Beebe Thea Snider
Riverside Ryan Hernandez Sierra Scott
Saddleback Lance Gardiner Drae Fresenius
Santa Ana Marcus Johnson Emily Rosas
Santiago Canyon Brandon Green Miranda Diaz-Casarrubias

(Nicho DellaValle, Orange Empire Conference)