June 13, 2012
2012 Team Banquet Photo Gallery
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville rowing program announced its team awards during a May 12 ceremony prior to the 2012 BIG EAST Championship in West Windsor, N.J.
Below are the Cardinals' 2012 award winners with comments from coaches and teammates about each honoree.
Senior Recognition: Anna Kirk
Comments from head coach Laura Aubrey: "We thank Anna for her contributions to the program over the past four years and wish her the best of luck as she turns the page, ready to attack the next chapter in her life. Anna had a pre-existing injury that resurfaced during her sophomore year which prevented her from being able to cox during her remaining two years at Louisville. Despite this injury, Anna continued to contribute the program in many ways and has been instrumental this past year with the things we were able to accomplish off the water."
Academic Award (highest GPA for 2011-2012 season)
Varsity: Hannah Ritter (4.0 GPA)
Comments from head coach Laura Aubrey: "Hannah is an extremely bright student and has excelled in the classroom every semester. She has high expectations for herself, both on and off the water, which has led to great success in all areas of her life. Hannah began her rowing career at Louisville as a walk-on and her commitment and dedication to excellence has allowed her to take huge strides within the sport very quickly. She was stroke seat of the third varsity eight during the 2011 BIG EAST Championship and by spring of 2012, she was sitting in the seven-seat in the varsity eight. Hannah has a strong work ethic, a great personality and has embraced every opportunity that has come her way. I look forward to seeing her continued growth over the next two years."
Novice: Anna Neikirk (3.93 GPA)
Comments from novice team coach Becky Smith: "Focus, eagerness and discipline are all good adjectives to describe Anna. She sets high standards for herself and is consistently looking to find ways to improve. Her achievement in earning the highest grade point average of any other walk-on is indicative of the high standards that she sets for herself both in the boat and in the classroom. She fully understands that a `student-athlete' must first be a student. All of the walk-ons went through a big transition period in their lives at the beginning of the fall semester with their first semester in college, moving away from home, making new friends and learning a completely new sport at a very high level. With this great transition also came many new challenges. In spite of these challenges, Anna was able to earn a 4.0 GPA during her first semester in college, which also earned her the honor of being named a Dean's Scholar. The spring semester brings a busy competition schedule during which Anna was able to keep her grades up earning a 3.85 GPA to finish the year with an overall GPA of a 3.93."
Most Improved Varsity: Ellen Fawcett
Comments from head coach Laura Aubrey: "I could not be more proud of the growth I have seen from Ellen, not only from this past year, but from the culmination of the past three years. Ellen has made considerable gains in all areas of her life, both inside and outside of rowing, and I know she will only continue to flourish. She returned from the summer, having earned a gold medal for her country (Canada) at the U23 World Championships and upon her return, the confidence, motivation and determination she possessed could not be denied. She played a critical role in the team's success throughout the rest of the year. Ellen was voted for, by her team, to serve as a team captain for the year, while also receiving much recognition for her ability to be trusted by her teammates, build confidence in her teammates, unify her team, hold her teammates accountable and with whom the team respects the most. Ellen received this most-improved award, because many of these strengths that she excelled at this past year were all once considered some of her greatest weaknesses. During the course of the past three years, Ellen has worked very hard and very diligently to become a better coxswain and a better person and I am so happy for the incredible gains she has made."
Most Improved Novice: Brittany Fryer
Comments from novice team coach Becky Smith: "Some of Brittany's greatest strengths are her composure, thoughtfulness and consistency. These traits have allowed her to develop throughout the entire novice year. Brittany showed a large amount of growth after the spring break training trip. Typically, most athletes start to level out their rate of development after spring break, but Brittany continued to show improvement with each day, which is a challenging thing to do at that point in the season. She has sat in nearly every seat in the boat throughout the year, and her deliberateness allowed her to take learning points away from each seat that she rowed and apply those things to the next. Her continual progress and application allowed her to earn stroke seat in the third varsity eight before the final two regattas of the season. Brittany is a great athlete who possesses the character and determination that will allow her to continuously grow as a student-athlete."
Varsity Oarswoman of the Year: Kathleen O'Connell
Comments from head coach Laura Aubrey: "When considering selection for Oarswoman of the Year there are a few things we feel this rower should possess. First, the boat she sits in would not be the same without her. Second, she is a `rock' both for the program and for the boat she sits in, meaning, she comes to practice every day prepared, focused and ready to attack the workout. You know you can always count on her to represent the program at the highest level and that is consistent day in and day out. Third, she has earned the respect and trust of her teammates and coaches. And fourth, she possesses a high level of intrinsic motivation, allowing her to make continual progress and gains both on and off the water. When taking these four characteristics into consideration, there was one young lady that really stuck out in my mind and that was Kathleen O'Connell. Kathleen was the stroke of the second varsity eight for the entire season and I firmly believe that her work ethic, leadership, great attitude and tenacity were game-changers for that boat. At the start of the season, we were unsure of who would stroke the boat and Kathleen really stepped it up (having never stroked before), providing us with an undeniable best option. Every year, whether it is over winter break or summer break, Kathleen has come back fitter and stronger than she was when she left. She has an incredible work ethic and a contagious positive attitude. She is an absolute pleasure to coach and is an athlete that we can always depend on. Kathleen has really matured into a strong young lady and I know she will continue to pave a road of success."
Novice Oarswoman of the Year: Morgan Engelmeyer
Comments from novice team coach Becky Smith: "Morgan was able to achieve something that very few first year walk-ons are able to do. She earned a seat in the second varsity eight during the spring racing season. This is no easy task for anyone, but for Morgan, she overcame even more than the typical walk-on in order to earn that seat. Not only had she never rowed prior to starting her freshman year in college this year, but with being an engineering major, she had an extremely challenging schedule and rigorous class load. Frequently missing practice in the fall due to class conflicts was difficult for her because every day the walk-on team learned something new about the sport of rowing. Morgan overcame that obstacle with eagerness, persistence and good old-fashioned hard work. She attacked every day with great determination and a great attitude. I could always count on Morgan to pull hard and have a smile on her face. She is a joy to coach, a great person and a great student, and because of her determination, she is also a great rower."
Cardinal Pride Award (nominated by team): Amy Van Syoc
Comments from co-captain Ellen Fawcett: "It is easy to see how and why Amy was awarded the 2012 Cardinal Pride Award. She has an limitless love for her school, she takes an immense amount of pride in how she carries herself and how she represents her team and there is no question she bleeds red and black. Amy is often the first to practice and the last to leave, putting her teammates before herself and willing to help out in any way she can. Amy is rarely seen without a smile on her face and this enthusiasm is definitely contagious. I can't think of a person more deserving of this award and I know her passion, her positive energy and her Cardinal Pride will have a lasting impact on our team."