May 5, 2009

Brown Honors Student-Athletes at Inaugural Senior Awards Celebration

May 5, 2009

Providence, R.I. – On Monday evening, May 4, Brown Athletics celebrated the 2008-09 athletics season at the inaugural Senior Celebration and Awards Banquet. Over 170 student-athletes representing Brown’s 37 intercollegiate varsity teams came together along with more than 150 coaches and distinguished guests to celebrate another exceptional year and honor some outstanding performances on and off the field.

In addition to the following student-athlete awards, Brown Athletics Appreciation Awards were presented to Dave Madonna, who has helped Brown Athletics through his role as a site director with Green Horn Management, and J. Stephen Lawton, the Lead Consultant Analyst in the Computing and Information Services Department, who attends nearly every Brown Athletic contest. The Brown Athletics Post-Graduate Scholarship Award was presented to men’s tennis senior Chris Lee (Sudbury, MA) and women’s lacrosse senior Lauren Vitkus (Skaneateles, N.Y.). In a yearly tradition, 18 students from Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point received special recognition for academic achievement.

Fritz Pollard ’19 Trophy

Senior football quarterback MichaelDougherty (Davie, FL) is this year’s recipient of the Fritz Pollard ’19 Trophy, given to the outstanding male varsity athlete of the year. Widely regarded as one of the finest passers in program history, Dougherty was a co-captain on the Ivy League champion football squad last fall, throwing for almost 2,700 yards and 19 touchdowns. His 5,763 career passing yards rank 11th in Ivy League history, and he set league records with 526 passing yards and 538 total yards in a game against Holy Cross. Dougherty was a three-time Ivy Player of the Week, and was a second-team All-Ivy selection in 2008.

Marjorie Brown Smith Award

Due to a tie in the voting this season, Brown recognized two outstanding athletes as its female athletes of the year. Track and field senior Nicole Burns (Newburgh, N.Y.) is a four-time Ivy League Individual Champion, and has been selected to All-Ivy teams an impressive seven times, with an eighth expected after the conclusion of the spring season. She has also qualified for the NCAA Regionals twice, and has been named All-ECAC on 10 occasions. Additionally, Burns has the second-fastest time in Ivy League history in the 400 meters, and has more appearances on Brown’s fastest all-time record list than anyone else.

The second recipient of the Marjorie Brown Smith Award is women’s crew senior Jessica Stage (Alexandria, VA). Stage is still writing the final chapter of an extraordinary career, as she will compete at the EAWRC Sprints next weekend, with a chance to move on and compete for her third NCAA Championship. Stage, a co-captain of the 2008-09 team, has been a key cog over the past two seasons as the Bears won back-to-back NCAA’s, and was a First Team All-American and All-Ivy selection last season. She also helped lead Brown to a gold medal at the prestigious Royal Henley Regatta in 2007, and has been identified as a candidate for the USA National Team. Following graduation, Stage will begin training for a potential spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad.

Joe Paterno ‘50 Award

Recognized as the outstanding first-year male athlete, Graham Tyler (Cranston, R.I.) is the 2009 winner of the Joe Paterno ‘50 Award. In his first season after moving across the street from Moses Brown, Tyler stepped into a contributing role immediately for the Bears, earning the starting job at shortstop and solidifying the infield defense. Tyler also hit over .300 on the season, and added 31 RBI’s and five home runs as the Bears won a school record 15 Ivy League games. While only a rookie, head coach Marek Drabinski already claims that Tyler is the best defensive shortstop he has ever coached.

Kate Silver ’86 Award

Women’s tennis freshman Casey Herzberg (Miami Beach, FL) is the winner of the Kate Silver ’86 Award, given to the outstanding freshman female varsity athlete. After arriving as one of the top 30 junior players in the nation last fall, Herzberg has only continued to improve, posting an impressive 26-5 singles record and a 22-7 mark in doubles during her rookie season. In large part because of her contributions, the women’s tennis team posted a 19-4 record on the season, the most victories in over a decade. Following the season, Herzberg was named to the First Team All-Ivy for doubles play, and the Second Team for singles, and was a strong contender for Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Arlene Gorton ’52 Cup

This year’s Arlene Gorton ’52 Cup, presented to the female varsity athlete who most consistently displays the ideals of sportsmanship and fair play, was given to sophomore fencer Ola MacKiewiecz (Westwood, MA). MacKiewiecz has already made a tremendous impact with her fencing skill, but it is her demeanor and sportsmanship off the court that truly sets her apart. Illustrating her ability, MacKiewiecz finished second in qualifying, guaranteeing her a berth in the NCAA Regionals. However, three other Brown fencers also qualified, meaning that one athlete would be forced to sit out, as only three were allowed to compete. In a terrific display of sportsmanship, MacKiewiecz chose to give up her automatic spot, thus making room for a senior who had never had the opportunity to go before.

Dave Zucconi ’55 Award

The winner of the Dave Zucconi ’55 Award, given annually to the male varsity athlete who most consistently displays the ideals of sportsmanship and fair play, is men’s soccer senior Steve Sawyer (Coppell, TX). Few represent the ideal of a leader better than Sawyer, who was the team captain last season, and earned the respect of teammates and coaches throughout his career. Sawyer has played in every match during his four-year career, and missed just one start in 65 opportunities. Despite leading the Bears to three NCAA Tournament appearances and two Ivy League titles, Sawyer is always quick to deflect praise, crediting his teammates first and foremost.

Bessie H. Rudd Award

This year’s recipient of the Bessie H. Rudd Award, presented to the female varsity athlete who has done the most to promote women’s sports at Brown, is women’s basketball junior Shae Fitzpatrick (Lynnfield, MA). Though Fitzpatrick is an important contributor on the court for the Bears, she is equally talented off it. She is the co-president of SAAC, a member of the Campus Life Advisory Board Subcommittee on Athletics, and a Micklejohn Student Peer Advisor. In addition, Fitzpatrick was a recipient of a Royce Fellowship for Sport and Society, which took her to India to work with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders.

Cliff Stevenson Award

Baseball senior Matt Nuzzo (Everett, MA) is the 2009 recipient of the Cliff Stevenson Award, presented annually to the male varsity athlete who best exemplifies Cliff’s boundless enthusiasm, indomitable spirit, and devotion to the quality of life at Brown and the community. Nuzzo has been a star both on and off the field throughout his career. He helped lead the Bears to the 2007 Ivy League title, and this season hit .331 as Brown won a program-high 15 Ivy League games. Away from the baseball diamond, Nuzzo mentors several students at Hope High School on a weekly basis, and joins a number of his teammates in visiting with kindergarteners at the Fox Point School. Additionally, he works at the United Way Charity Food Bank in the offseason, illustrating his willingness to go outside of the Brown community in order to help others.