Worcester, Mass. – In one of the most emotionally stirring nights in recent memory, the Clark University Department of Athletics handed out its annual awards in front of a packed crowd in Daniels Theater at Atwood Hall on Tuesday evening.
The highlight of the night without question was the announcement of a newly created award in honor of graduate student and men’s basketball playerReed Powell (Worcester, Mass.). Powell, who was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident two summers ago and was put into a medically-induced coma, miraculously returned to the team in 2012-13.
Head men’s basketball coach Paul W. Phillipsdelivered an emotional speech, constantly fighting back tears as he detailed Powell’s journey from the hospital bed to game action.
“This award is uniquely special as it was created solely because of the exceptional qualities of this very special individual,” said Director of Athletics and Recreation, Sean Sullivan. “It will not be given out annually for fear of somehow reducing the importance of its meaning. It will only be awarded to those within our Athletic Department family who exhibit the most remarkable levels of perseverance, bravery, emotional strength, physical fortitude, and simple courage.”
The event capped a 2012-13 seasons that saw four teams participate in postseason play, a student-athlete advance to the diving national championships and another earn All-America distinction.
Diego Angel (Lima, Peru) of the men’s tennis team and Mel Melkonian (Worcester, Mass.) of both the field hockey and softball teams were the recipients of the Fred Hebert and M. Hazel Hughes trophies, respectively, which is given to the male and female student-athletes who make a significant contribution to the athletics program and enrich the tradition of Clark Athletics.
Angel is widely credited with resurrecting the men’s tennis program during his four seasons. He was the 2010 NEWMAC Rookie of the Year and won Player of the Year in 2012. He also garnered all-conference singles honors in 2012 and 2013 and all-conference doubles accolades in 2013 as well. In leading the Cougars to their first-ever appearance in the NEWMAC Championship as a junior and a semifinals berth in his senior season, Angel compiled a career record of 35-15 at No. 1 singles.
Melkonian, meanwhile, rewrote the field hockey record book at Clark, becoming the program’s first-ever three-time All-American and first four-time all-region selection. She finished her career with 255 career points on 112 goals and 31 assists, good for the sixth most points on the NCAA Division III total points list and third on the all-time goals scored list. Her career averages of 1.67 goals per game and 3.81 points per game are first on the NCAA’s all-time list. In addition to her field hockey dominance, Melkonian was also a star on the softball diamond, finishing her career with a .326 batting average and 139 hits. She was just the second player in the history of the NEWMAC to earn Rookie of the Year in two sports back in the 2009-10 season.
Standout Jeffrey Wasson (Buckhorn, Ontario) became the second straight lacrosse player to collect the Russ Granger Award, given to the male student-athlete who combines both academics with on-field excellence. A double major in history and political science and a 3.5 GPA, Wasson became the first player in school history to record a pair of 40 goal seasons and helped lead the Cougars to a tie for school record in wins this season.
Women’s soccer captain Hana Chamoun (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.) was selected as the recipient of the Alice Higgins Award, given annually to the female student-athlete who has combined academic excellence with academic achievement. In her four seasons, she went to the postseason three times, was named NEWMAC All-Conference and is a four-time Clark University Scholar-Athlete as well as a three-time NEWMAC Academic All-Conference selection. Heavily involved in community service endeavors, Chamoun is a part of a group putting together a service trip to Guatemala next January and is also active in the women’s soccer “Kick Up The Writing” program at May Street Elementary school in Worcester.
Three individuals – women’s swimming’s Mollie Kleyboecker (Albuquerque, N.M.), field hockey’s Madeleine Lutts (Salem, Mass.) and men’s basketball’sBrian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.) all earned Merit Awards, which recognizes those student-athletes who have had a significant impact on their sports.
Kleyboecker is a two-time NCAA Qualifier, who holds five individual school records and has three other relay records. She is the first woman in school history to complete the 100-yard backstroke in less than a minute.
Lutts is both an all-region and all-conference performer. She served as team captain, was a four-year starter and started all 68 games of her career. Her team went a combined 41-27 in her four years and she set a school-record for assists in a season with 15 and her career totals of 112 points rank sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Vayda, meanwhile, is three-time first-team all-conference performer. He was Rookie of the Year as a freshman and helped lead his team to the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore. His name is splattered all over the Clark record book with him holding the school record for games played (112) and games started (111). He also ranks fourth in points scored (1,744), third in rebounds (861), third in steals (183), fourth in field goals made (613), fourth in free throws made (418), sixth in three-point percentage (38.8) and ninth in assists (227).
Three more student-athletes – men’s tennis’ Dan Hall (Sutton, Mass.), John Karas (South Glastonbury, Mass.) of the men’s basketball team and women’s cross country’s Kayla Reeves (Shirley, Mass.) – were named recipients of the Senior Class Award, which is given to the senior athletes who best exemplify class, spirit, and integrity in their athletic endeavors.
All three honorees are members of the department’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), team captains, NEWMAC Academic All-Conference selections, Clark University Scholar-Athletes and fixtures around campus and at other athletic events.
Twin sisters Lauren Ziemer (Arlington, Mass.) and Martha Ziemer (Arlington, Mass.) made some history when they both were named the John & Kay Bassett Scholar-Athlete Award recipients. It marks the first time since the award was renamed in 2009 for the former University President and his wife that two people have won the award in the same season. Miraculously, each had the same cummulative grade point average – 4.09 – meaning the sisters tied for the highest GPA for any senior student-athlete.
Women’s swimming captain Emily Newton (East Lyme, Conn.) was named the recipient of the Pat Hassett Award, which is given to the deserving student-athlete based on contributions to the Clark and Worcester communities through service. Newton has served in various positions around campus, including as an administrative orientation coordinator, a peer advisor, a student representative to the University’s Board of Trustees, staff writer for the Scarlet campus newspaper, and the chair of the senior week committee. In addition to her campus work, she has been helpful in the Worcester community as well, serving as a volunteer mentor at Saint Peter’s Church and even organized a raffle for the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester.
Liz Mattarazzo, a graduate student in the University’s fifth-year program, who has taken thousands of photos of Clark student-athletes over the past three years, was honored with the Richie Fairbanks Service Award.
Another newly created award – the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Appreciation Award – was given to Assistant Athletic Trainer/Senior Woman Administrator Trish Cronin.
Courtesy of the Sports Information Office