All of Boston University’s student-athletes juggle a lot of responsibility — attending classes, doing schoolwork, and putting in long hours at practice. But some exhibit excellence on and off the playing field, whether they’re setting school records in track and field or raising money for textbooks in Tanzanian schools. The athletics department honored eight outstanding members of BU sports teams during an awards ceremony on April 30, recognizing students who have shown strong academics, athletic ability, and commitment to BU and the wider community.
“For me this is an opportunity to thank all our seniors for their dedication to athletics, academics, and community service and to pay tribute to a select group of athletes by giving out these awards,” says Michael Lynch, assistant vice president and director of athletics. “These athletes have exemplified what being a Terrier is all about.”
Using input from coaches, a committee from across athletics determined the award recipients. “This year we have had an incredible season and student-athletes who have gone above and beyond not just on the field but in the classroom and community, but those chosen as award recipients stand out above and beyond the others,” says Lynch. “All of these athletes are the cream of the crop in the Terrier system, and if the public were to look at this group of athletes, they would think very highly of what we do. They are really strong representatives of the core values we exemplify — athletics, academics, and community.”
The committee found a prime example of community outreach in Ross Lohr (CAS’07) of the men’s tennis team, who put service on his college curriculum by founding a global nonprofit organization called the Newton-Tanzania Collaborative (NTC). The organization pairs Newton North and South High Schools with secondary schools in Tanzania to raise cultural awareness and funds for textbooks for two Tanzanian schools. Next year, NTC will sponsor a Tanzanian teacher’s visit Newton and will support a trip for Newton students to visit schools in Tanzania.
“As an economics major, I’ve gotten a closer look at some of the disparities in living standards which people are dealt just by being born into a particular life situation,” says Lohr, who received the Boston University Student-Athlete Service Award. “Instead of just being grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, I decided it was time to make a difference and to try to give opportunities back to others that have not been as fortunate as I have.”
Lidija Breznikar (CAS’07), corecipient of the Gretchen Schuyler Award for the top female scholar-athlete, feels fortunate that her swimming ability allowed her to fulfill a lifelong dream — coming to BU from Slovenia for college. Breznikar has excelled not only in the pool, holding BU’s record in the 200 individual medley, the 400 individual medley, and the breaststroke, but also in academics — she was named to the Dean’s List for six semesters and expects to graduate magna cum laude. She will start medical school in the fall at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.
“Both molecular biology and swimming are things I am extremely passionate about, and I love doing what I do,” she says. “It’s not easy to combine them, and there’s a lot of give-and-take, a lot of sacrifices, but at the end of the day, I love doing it and I wouldn’t change a thing. I think when you’re passionate about something and have the work ethic to do it, success isn’t so far away and you can achieve your goals.”
Tahari James (SAR’08) of the women’s track and field team, winner of the Mildred Barnes Award for top female athlete of the year, has already set goals for after she graduates next year, among them competing in the 2008 Olympics on the U.S. track and field team. But right now James is proud of her accomplishments at BU, such as breaking the University’s long jump and triple jump records.
“Having the school records in both these events is such an honor because it recognizes me as the top athlete in those events and allows me to leave something concrete behind after all is said and done,” she says. “The fact that the school recognized a track athlete as female athlete of the year was great. It means that the program is moving towards a positive direction and that it is getting the recognition as a strong athletic team.”
Other award winners included John Curry (CAS’07), men’s ice hockey goalie, winner of the Mickey Cochrane Award for top male athlete and the E. Ray Speare Award for top male scholar-athlete; Katrina Meinhardt (SMG’06, MET’07), women’s basketball guard, corecipient of the Gretchen Schuyler Award for top female scholar-athlete; Marisa Ryan (CAS/MED’10), track and field runner, winner of the inaugural BU Woman of the Year Award, for the student-athlete who best exemplifies a commitment to service, leadership, athletics, and academics; Kaitlyn Gentry (CAS’07), lacrosse captain, recipient of the John B. Simpson Award for the top senior female athlete who has demonstrated enthusiasm and leadership; and Jarryd Goldberg (COM’07), men’s soccer midfielder, recipient of the John B. Simpson Award for the top senior male athlete who has demonstrated enthusiasm and leadership. Richard Steele, director of minor construction, won the Campus Community Recognition Award for the individual who has played a significant role in the success of BU Athletics.
Meghan Noé can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.