Fordham’s top student-athletes were honored for their accomplishments on and off the field at the 77th annual Block F Dinner on May 4.
Nearly 600 student-athletes, coaches and staff members attended the event, which was held at Villa Barone Manor in the Bronx.
The evening was filled with celebration and cheering for award recipients, as each team honored a most valuable player.
“I notice when a member of a team receives recognition, he or she—in great Fordham fashion—walks up with great humility while their teammates go wild,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “Fordham athletes have hearts that are great. They rejoice in their teammates’ accomplishments more than their own. They are ideal teammates to one another. That is most rare and it is part of a great legacy that is yours.”
Among those honored were Ali Arat, who received the Vincent T. Lombardi Award as Fordham’s top male student-athlete, and Kerri Gallagher, who won the Claire and Jack Hobbs Award as Fordham’s top female student-athlete.
Softball coach Bridget Orchard received the Iron Major Award as Fordham’s Coach of the Year for the second time.
The Lombardi Award is presented to the top male athlete for distinguished achievements in the winning tradition of Vince Lombardi. Arat, one of the scoring leaders on the water polo team, is a two-time honorable mention All-American and the first player from his sport to receive the Lombardi Award.
Arat gave special thanks to his coach, who recruited him “all the way from Istanbul, Turkey,” and his trainers and his teammates. He also urged the Fordham community to attend water polo matches.
“We have good things going on in that pool,” he said.
Gallagher, captain of the women’s cross country squad, set four school records this season as well as two Atlantic 10 marks at the 2011 indoor track and field championships.
“I wouldn’t be here without my coaches and teammates,” Gallagher said. “I’ve never been prouder to be a Ram. I think we can all say that.”
The Iron Major Award is presented to the coach of the year as selected by fellow coaches. Orchard, who also won the distinction in 2005, has brought the Fordham softball team to the top of the Atlantic 10 conference and has built the program into a national contender. The team finished with 38 wins, capturing their second A-10 regular season title before winning the University’s first league softball tournament championship.
Aimee Breyers, the assistant coach for the swimming and diving teams, received the Jack Coffey Award, which honors to the Fordham administrator, graduate or coach for outstanding contributions and dedication to the athletic program. Basketball player and Fordham College at Rose Hill seniorBrenton Butler won the Terrence J. O’Donnell Memorial Award, which honors the Fordham student-athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, loyalty, dedication and self-discipline.
Awards were also presented to 15 seniors for academic achievement (3.5 GPA or better). Honorary letters were given to Marc Canton, director of inter-campus transportation, for helping student-athletes reach their road trip destinations, and Vincent Dusovic, who has photographed Fordham athletes since 1999.
A special honor was bestowed upon John Cirillo (FCRH ’78), who has served as a special media consultant to the athletic department as well as an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies. Cirillo, a former public relations director for the New York Knicks, was presented with a painted portrait by Fordham golf coach Paul Dillon, who is also a renowned artist.
Mike Walczewski (FCRH ’77), public address announcer for the New York Knicks and college basketball games at Madison Square Garden, emceed the event.