May 2, 2014
It's been a historic year for UConn Athletics. Over the past 12 months we have seen our student-athletes thrive in competition, in the classroom and in the community. During that time, we witnessed three of our programs reach the pinnacle of their sport as they captured the NCAA National Championship. In the classroom over 50% earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher. In the community they performed nearly 1,000 hour of service.
With hundreds of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and donors in attendance, the UConn Club held its 61st Annual Awards Ceremony inside Gampel Pavilion on April 28th to celebrate these many accomplishments.
"Each year, The UConn Club Awards Dinner is a very special evening," said Jim Donohue, assistant athletics director-development. "It is a great opportunity for our donors to interact with our student-athletes, coaches and administrators as we celebrate another great year."
Throughout the evening, outstanding student-athletes and teams were honored for their achievements athletically, academically and in the community. In addition, The UConn Club also proudly presented two of its highest honors to distinguished alums Barry Botticello '72 & '75 and Ken Sweitzer '85.
Following social hour and dinner on the floor of Gampel Pavilion, the event got underway with the recognition of student-athletes who earned All-American honors along with teams who qualified for post-season play.
The first presentation of the evening was the Don Kinsman Award. Named for emeritus professor Don Kinsman, who spent 32 year as a member of the faculty at the University of Connecticut, the award is presented annually to a student-athlete who has demonstrated universal success, leadership and character in the face of adversity during their time at UConn.
This year's recipient of the award was women's soccer player Julie Hubbard. In 2013, Hubbard was named a team captain, started all 20 games and scored four goals, including two game winners. A member of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll, she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in allied health sciences. Currently she is pursuing her master's degree in sports management, which she is scheduled to obtain this December.
To recognize outstanding achievements in the classroom, The UConn Club presented 12 deserving individuals with the Outstanding Senior Scholar-Athlete Award. (A full list of this year's recipients can be found below.)
"First, I want to thank The UConn Club and the entire athletics department for hosting this event," said Ryan Carr, men's tennis. "My experience at UConn has been a very memorable one that has molded me into who I am today."
"I want to thank the UConn for selecting me to receive this award," said Charlotte Kelley, rowing. "I also want to thank my amazing coaches, teammates and parents for being amazing influences in my life."
For Kelley, the evening was especially memorable for her parents who were able to be in attendance.
"She is such a hard worker, it's great to see her recognized by her teammates and her peers," said her father, Bryan Kelly. "We are very proud of her because we know it is very difficult to balance the demands of athletics and academics. It's great to see all her hard work is paying off with an event like this one."
A five-time all-conference selection at three different positions, former UConn quarterback, wide receiver and punter Ken Sweitzer was honored as this year's Red O'Neill Award recipient. Each year this award is presented to a UConn graduate who has gone from the athletic fields to distinguish themselves in their chosen careers.
Currently the owner of Sweitzer Insurance, LLC, located in Old Saybrook, he has enjoyed a 31-year career as a life insurance and annuity income specialist. Sweitzer was named a top advisor by Advisors Excel, a world-class insurance marketing organization focused on helping independent advisors increase their life insurance and annuity business, in 2011, '12 and '13.
As an active member of the community, he has been a 15-year member of the Board of Directors of the Children's Center of Hamden. He served as that group's vice president from 2005-07 and has chaired the group's golf tournament, which has raised more than $300,000 over the past 15 years.
"When I heard I won this award I was shocked," said Sweitzer. "I know the UConn Club only gives away two awards. As soon as I got the news, I looked online and saw the individuals who've received the Red O'Neill Award, and I am very honored to be a part of this special group of people. This really is incredible."
A member of the UConn Club Board of Directors since 2007, where he has served as the president, vice president and the chairmen of several fundraising committees, Barry Botticello was honored as the 2014 recipient of the A.J. Pappanikou Contribution Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual who has made significant contributions to the UConn Division of Athletics.
Botticello graduated from UConn with a degree in economics in 1972 and earned his law degree from the school in 1975. Since graduating, he has been practicing law in Manchester. Currently he is the managing partner of the law firm Penny, Botticello, and O'Brien PC.
"This honor means a lot to me," Botticello said. "I have come to a lot of events like this, and I have been lucky to see a lot of wonderful people honored. I am very happy to receive this award and I will do my best to live up to it."
This year, a new award was presented at the 61st Annual UConn Club Awards Dinner. Named in honor of Don Ruck, who was responsible for launching the first support group and fundraising arm of UConn Athletics, this award will be given annually to a student-athlete that has displayed extraordinary commitment to community service or significant leadership in a student-based volunteer group.
The inaugural recipient of the Don Ruck Award is Paul DeSalvo. A member of the track and field team, DeSalvo is actively engaged in a number of on-campus organizations. He serves as president of the Finance Society, and he is the investment manager and treasurer of the Student Managed Fund at UConn. He is also an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Husky Reach program that visits local schools to develop interest in both academics and athletics.
"Thank you very much to my fellow student-athletes who selected me to receive this award," DeSalvo said. "I am very surprised and honored to win it."
To conclude the evening, 18 student-athletes were honored with The UConn Club Outstanding Senior Athlete Award. Recipients of this award have brought regional and national attention to the University of Connecticut through their athletic achievements in their respective sports. (For a full listing of this year's recipients, please see below.)
"I want to thank my coaches who have always been here for me," said Celina Emerson, women's track and field. "I am proud to be part of such an amazing program, and I am excited to graduate from such a fine university."
"My journey at UConn has been nothing short of special, it has made me into the person I am today" said Bridgette Mania, women's track and field. "Since coming to school here five years ago, I have been hooked on UConn and it's without question the best decision I've ever made."
"Thank you to my teammates, coaches, managers and academic advisors. You all did a lot for me, and I am very grateful for that. Go Huskies!" said Shabazz Napier, men's basketball.
Outstanding Senior Scholar-Athlete Recipients
Marie Elena Bolles - Field Hockey: After leading the Huskies to their third-ever NCAA Championship in 2013, Marie Elena Bolles has cemented her legacy in UConn history. The senior forward/midfielder was tabbed as the 2013 Division 1 National Player of the Year after tallying 17 goals, including three game winners, and 14 assists for a 48-point season. In her final year at Storrs, she was named a First Team All-American and earned a spot on the All-Big East First Team for the fourth consecutive season. A native of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Bolles is a nursing major.
Ryan Carr - Men's Tennis: Ryan Carr wraps up his career on the UConn tennis courts as one of the leaders of the program after serving as a team captain this past season. He has been one of UConn's top-players in the lineup in each of his four seasons as a Husky. Carr is a three-time Dean's List student and has earned a spot on the Big East All-Academic team for three seasons. He was an intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic Scholar-Athlete in 2013 and is a member of the Sigma Alpha Lamba national leadership and honor organization. A native of Madison, Connecticut, Carr is a finance major.
Tiffany Daley - Women's Track and Field: Tiffany Daley is a three-time Big East All-Academic Team member and a two-time New England Champion as a member of the 4x400 meter relay team. Daley has earned Dean's List honors three times and is a three-time Big East All-Academic team member. A Northborough, Massachusetts, native, Daley is majoring in mathematics/actuarial science.
Paul DeSalvo -Men's Track and Field: Paul DeSalvo is actively engaged in a number of on-campus organizations, most notably serving as president of the Finance Society, a group that gives back to students who are passionate about the field of study. He is a member of the Husky Reach program with weekly visits to local schools to develop interest in both academics and athletics. In six of his seven semesters on campus, he has earned a spot on the Dean's List and has been a member of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll in every semester since the fall of 2010. A native of Plymouth, Minnesota, DeSalvo is a finance major with a minor in Spanish.
Charlotte Kelley - Rowing: Charlotte Kelley is a five-time Dean's List student at UConn and has been a regular on the Big East Conference All-Academic Team and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll. In 2012 and 2013, she earned a Scholar-Athlete Award from the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. Kelley is currently an intern this semester at the UConn Health Center, studying novel antigens in breast cancer to target using immunotherapy. A Simsbury, Connecticut, native, Kelley is an allied health major.
Jennifer Learmonth - Women's Tennis: Jennifer Learmonth has been a mainstay in the Husky women's tennis lineup during her four-year career at the University of Connecticut. Learmonth has been a hard-working, all-court player who has battled back from several injuries during her career to return to the UConn lineup even stronger. She is a two-time Dean's List student and a regular on the Big East All-Academic Team and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll at UConn. She is a three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic honoree. A native of Elgin, South Carolina, Learmonth is a finance major.
Keith Piper - Men's Swimming & Diving: Keith Piper was one of UConn's most consistent swimmers during his four-year career with the Huskies. He placed in the top 16 in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events at the 2012 Big East Conference as a sophomore, and he earned a spot on the Big East Academic All-Star Team in 2011 and 2012. After being named a team captain as a senior, Piper led the Huskies to a third place finish at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championship. He has been an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the Husky Reach program. Piper has been named to the Dean's List three times. A native of Naperville, Illinois, Piper is a finance major.
Julia Roth - Rowing: Julia Roth has earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average in four of her semesters at UConn and was a Dean's List honors every semester. She received the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete Award in 2013, and she is a regular on the Big East Conference All-Academic team and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll at UConn. She has been named a New England Scholar and Babbidge Scholar at UConn. A native of Weston, Connecticut, she is an allied health major. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue her master's degree.
Madeline Schiappa - Softball: Maddy Schiappa has been a significant contributor to the UConn softball team over the past four seasons. Heading into her senior campaign, Schiappa had started 89 games as a Husky, primarily directing the outfield but also making appearances at shortstop. Her impressive performance in the classroom matches her career on the diamond. She is a three-time member of the NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete Team and a four-time Big East Academic All-Star during her time at Storrs. A native of Bedford, New Hampshire, Schiappa is a management major.
Jackie Wattles - Volleyball: Jackie Wattles was a key contributor at UConn during each of her four seasons on the volleyball team. Overall, the middle blocker played in 77 matches, including 47 career starts. Wattles finished her career with 290 kills and 133 total blocks, along with a sterling .231 attack percentage. She has been a regular on the Big East Conference All-Academic Team and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll at UConn. Wattles earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average in three of her semesters and serves as the associate news editor for UConn's student newspaper, The Daily Campus. A native of Liberty Hill, Texas, Wattles is a journalism and political science major with minors in economics and policy.
Ashley West - Rowing: Ashley West had incredible academic and athletic success during her time at UConn as a member of the women's rowing team. She has been a four-time Dean's List student as a member of the honors program in UConn's School of Pharmacy. West has been named to the Dean's List four times and she earned All-Academic Honors from the Big East multiple times. She is a member of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association and the Alpha Zeta Omega professional pharmacy fraternity. A native of Dudley, Massachusetts, West is a pharmacy major.
Chelsea Zabel - Rowing: Chelsea Zabel has earned Dean's List honors twice during her UConn career and had one perfect 4.0 semester. In each of her years at UConn, she has been named to the Big East Conference All-Academic Team and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll. Zabel has been a student facilitator for UConn Connects - an intervention program that helps students to be more academically successful. She has also volunteered in the summer program at the UConn American English Language Institute, to help international students better understand English. A native of Guilford, Connecticut, Zabel is a communication sciences major.
The UConn Club Outstanding Senior Athlete Award Recipients
Jesse Chapman - Men's Track and Field
Mamadou Doudou Diouf - Men's Soccer
Stefanie Dolson - Women's Basketball
Celina Emerson - Women's Track and Field
Billy Ferriter - Baseball
Niels Giffey - Men's Basketball
Brant Harris - Men's Ice Hockey
Bria Hartley - Women's Basketball
Anne Jeute -Field Hockey
Lauren Kahn - Lacrosse
Bridgette Mania - Women's Track and Field
Sarah Mansfield - Field Hockey
Eric Masington - Men's Track and Field
LJ Mazzilli - Baseball
Shabazz Napier - Men's Basketball
Devin Prendergast - Women's Soccer
Kacey Pippitt - Lacrosse
Shamar Stephen - Football