BU Wins Sixth Straight America East Commissioner’s Cup
Terriers also take sportsmanship, service awards| From BU Today | By Leslie Friday
President Robert A. Brown with last year’s Commissioner’s Cup at Agganis Arena. Photos courtesy of BU Athletics
Boston University swept the America East conference awards in June, capturing top honors for its athletic program, sportsmanship, and community service.
This marks the 6th straight year and the 11th time in its history that BU has received the Stuart P. Haskell, Jr. Commissioner’s Cup, which recognizes the strongest athletic programs in America East as determined by a scoring system that allocates points according to a school’s success in the regular season and championship competitions across the conference’s 20 sports. Earning this year’s cup makes BU the winner of the most Commissioner’s Cups in America East history.
“What makes us successful is the fact that everybody works together here,” says Michael Lynch, assistant vice president and director of athletics. “Each team always goes out, plays hard, and expects to win.”
BU women’s coxswain Alex Thornton (CAS’11)
In addition to the Commissioner’s Cup, women’s coxswain Alex Thornton (CAS’11) was honored with the America East/College for Every Student (CFES) Service Award, and BU’s swimming and diving teams shared the Sportsmanship Award with all the conference swimming and diving teams.
The Terriers won conference championships this past season in men’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s tennis, and men’s cross country and took second place in six sports: softball, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s indoor and outdoor track.
Their strong performance meant BU earned 388 points under the conference’s scoring system. The University of Albany came in second, with 353 points, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, placed third, with 289 points.
“Every year it gets more challenging for us to maintain the level of success that we’ve had,” Lynch says. “I think it’s easier to get to the top than it is to stay there. That’s why I’m more satisfied with our continued success.”
BU diver Bailey O’Brien (SAR’12)
This year’s Sportsmanship Award went to all the swimming and diving teams in the conference for their support of BU diver Bailey O’Brien (SAR’12), who is battling lymphoma. During the February championship, held at UMBC in Baltimore, Md., athletes raised more than $1,500 for the Bailey O’Brien Fund, set up to help Bailey’s family pay for her medical care. The teams paid tribute to O’Brien at the event by joining hands around the pool and raising them in support of the accomplished diver.
O’Brien, who was receiving treatment at the time, was able to see the event via Skype. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” says Bill Smyth, BU swimming and diving head coach.
Smyth nominated the swimming and diving teams for the Sportsmanship Award. “The circumstances that brought it about were unfortunate,” he says, “but at the same time it really made me honored to say that I’m part of the America East conference.”
O’Brien is now in remission and plans to return to BU in the fall.
Thornton received the first-ever America East/CFES Service Award for coordinating a mentoring program between BU athletes and students at the Jackson Mann School in Allston. Athletes worked with approximately 80 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at the public school throughout the year, taking them to lunch, giving them tours of BU, and visiting them at the school.
“The main message we were driving home is that these kids can go to college,” Thornton says. “It’s an opportunity for them. It’s not a distant possibility.”
Women’s rowing head coach Stacey Rippetoe describes Thornton as “one of the best kids I’ve ever coached.” Thornton helped the team win both the Head of the Charles and the Championship Four in 2009.
A Scarlet Key recipient, the former coxswain juggled sports and school obligations with additional volunteering while at BU. She read to elementary students during the holiday season, taught women cancer survivors how to row, and participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks.
Volunteering is fun, says Thornton. “When something is enjoyable and fun, I think it makes it a million times easier.”