Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Banquet Is Back

Just to let you know how much time has gone by since the last time the Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club banquet was held in person, the winner of the Roper Trophy as the top senior male athlete that night was ... John Lovett.

Just in case you forgot, John Lovett currently is with his third NFL team and has already earned a Super Bowl ring. It does seem like a long time ago that he was winning two Bushnell Cups as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and leading the Tigers to a perfect 10-0 season as a senior.

And yet he's the most recent in-person Roper winner, having won the award in 2019. The banquets were virtual in 2020 and 2021, and it's now back in person for 2022. In fact, it happens to be tonight.

The banquet kicks off at 5 with a cocktail hour and then features the dinner and awards ceremony at 6:15. 

There are six awards to be given at the banquet. There are the Marvin Bressler Award and the Class of 1967 PVC Citizen-Athlete Award, whose winners have already been announced.

The Bressler Award, which is given each year to someone who has been overwhelming supportive of Princeton's athletes, is named for Marvin Bressler, a longtime sociology professor who was the model for the Princeton Athletic Fellows program that Walters created when he was the Director of Athletics, based on his experiences with Bressler when Walters was on the basketball team in the 1960s. 

TigerBlog knew Bressler, who passed away in 2010, very well. If ever an award matched the person for whom it is named, it is this one. This year's winner is Alec Dun, the Associate Dean of the College.

The Citizen-Athlete Award is given each year in recognition of outstanding contribution to sport and society. The winner this year is Sari Chang-Guthrie, a former track and field standout who became an actress and is now an architect. 

For more information on the winners, click HERE.

There are also four awards given to undergraduates, and the finalists for those awards have been announced. 

There is the Class of 1916 Cup, which is given to the senior athlete in the highest academic standing at graduation. Those finalists can be found HERE.

The Art Lane Award is an undergraduate version of the Citizen-Athlete Award and a testament to the kinds of young people who come to Princeton to compete. HERE are those finalists. 

The top two awards are the Roper Trophy and the von Kienbusch Award, which is given to the top senior female athlete.

The Roper Trophy dates back to 1936, when Hugh MacMillan was the first winner. Who was Hugh MacMillan? He was a football and basketball player (who also happened to be a football teamamte of Art Lane, for whom the service award is named) while at Princeton, and he then went to medical school and became a surgeon (medical school at Harvard), first in the Army Medical Corps in Europe in World War II and then in Colorado. 

The von Kienbusch Award turns 50 this year. The first winner, back in 1972, was Helena Novakova, a tennis player and swimmer who came to Princeton after escaping from Czechoslovakia during the 1968 Soviet invasion there.

There are four nominees for the von Kienbusch Award: fencer Maia Chamberlain, basketball player Abby Meyers, soccer player Lucy Rickerson and lacrosse player Kyla Sears. You can read all about them HERE.

There are five nominees for the Roper Trophy: lacrosse player George Baughan, squash player Youssef Ibrahim, shot putter C.J. Licata, soccer player Kevin O'Toole and football player Jeremiah Tyler. You can read about them HERE.

The winners of those four awards will be announced at the banquet.

As always, TigerBlog goes back to freshman athlete orientation when he thinks about those awards. The entire athletic class gathers together very infrequently, the first time during orientation. They're wide-eyed and uncertain about what to expect, and there's no way to predict what experience any of them have.

Throw in for this class that they had no idea that a global pandemic was going to interrupt their time here. For some who are now seniors and graduating next week, this is all a year later than they expected. 

But they're here now. Theses are finished. Finals are taken. Dean's Date has come and gone. They've had as normal a senior year as any of them could have hoped 12 months ago. 

Now it's time the banquet, reunions and graduation. They've all earned this celebration.

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