Fordham student-athletes traded jerseys for dress shirts and cleats for high heels to cap a year of excellence on and off the playing field.
Awards, announcements and surprises marked the 74th annual Block F Dinner, held April 30 at Villa Barone Manor in the Bronx.
The University presented its Coach of the Year award to Tom Masella, who led the football team to the Patriot League title last fall in his second year on the job.
Two players shared the top male athlete award—football punter Ben Dato and basketball forward Bryant Dunston—while hard-throwing softballer Allison Twarowski took home the top female athlete citation.
The crowd cheered when it learned that Dato had signed a free-agent contact with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise to occur that evening.
That honor was reserved for Scott Kwiatkowski, assistant sports information director. Well-liked among students, he was recognized for outstanding dedication to Fordham athletics by an administrator, alumnus or coach. The award was a shock even to Kwiatkowski, who helped plan the evening.
In true Jesuit fashion, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, used the standing ovation that greeted Kwiatkowski as an opportunity to teach.
“The most explosive applause that echoed through this hall tonight was not for an athlete or coach, but for Scott Kwiatkowski, who received this award because he works quietly for the good of others,” Father McShane said. “He receives glory not because he seeks it, but because he seeks to serve.
“That is what makes Fordham different,” he continued. “You do not desire glory; you seek to serve and glory is heaped upon you. … That is what makes us extraordinary.”
On a night that was dedicated to athletic prowess, the intellect of Fordham’s student-athletes also commanded the spotlight. Athletic Director Frank McLaughlin announced that Fordham has led the Atlantic 10 in academic standing for the second year in a row.
He pointed to the strong leadership of this year’s senior class and cautioned the underclassmen to uphold the tradition that comes with being a Fordham athlete.
“You have to understand your responsibility in representing this University,” McLaughlin said. “There are alumni all over the country checking the scores and reading about Fordham. It’s important that we present the University the right way, through hard work and dedication.”
Mike Walczewski, FCRH ’77, public address announcer for the New York Knicks and college basketball games at Madison Square Garden, emceed the event.
The University said goodbye to Linda Bruno, who stepped down as commissioner of the Atlantic 10 conference after 14 years. Fordham joined the conference during Bruno’s tenure, and noted its gratitude by presenting her with a portrait and making her an honorary letterwinner.
“Linda was instrumental in Fordham getting into the Atlantic 10,” McLaughlin said. “Her main objective as commissioner was always providing a positive experience for our student-athletes.”
For her part, Bruno said that while most schools and universities petition the league for membership, Fordham was the only school that the Atlantic 10 proactively solicited to join its ranks.
You’ve been great members; just terrific,” she said. “You are a driving force in the Atlantic 10.”