Eleven Award-Winners Honored at Senior Letterwinners’ Dinner

From left to right: J.P. O'Connor, Claire Sheldon, Cheng Ho, Alexandra Clarke, Egen Atkinson, Melissa Schellberg, John Riley, Pat Magnarelli, Trevor Petach, Kaitlin Coil, Lizzy Nichols (Harvard Athletic Communications).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Eleven members of the Harvard class of 2010 were honored at the annual Senior Letterwinners’ Dinner, held Wednesday night at the Murr Center. J.P. O’Connor of the wrestling team took home the William J. Bingham Award as Harvard’s outstanding male athlete, and Alexandra Clarke of the women’s swimming team earned the Radcliffe Prize as the outstanding female athlete.

A two-year team captain and a national All-Academic selection in his sport, O’Connor graduates as one of the most decorated athletes in Harvard history. After earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors and becoming the first freshman in program history to achieve All-America status, O’Connor clinched his second All-America nod a year later and was dubbed Ivy League Wrestler of the Year. The Oxford, N.Y., native put together a 32-4 overall record as a junior, and this season capped off his collegiate career as Harvard’s first undefeated NCAA champion, tallying his program-record 132nd win in the finals of the 2010 NCAA Championships.

Clarke is the only four-time NCAA Championships qualifier in the history of Harvard women’s swimming and diving and earned All-America honors as a senior. She has totaled 17 All-Ivy League event performances in her career, including six Ivy event titles. The Phoenix, Ariz., native graduates as the school record-holder in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650-yard freestyle events and as a part of the 800 freestyle relay team.

Egen Atkinson of the men’s water polo team received the Arthur L. Boland award, established this year for a graduating senior who will attend medical school. Atkinson served as captain of the team during his senior season and garnered Academic All-Ivy and ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District selections, as well as several sport-specific academic honors. The John P. Fadden Award, presented to a senior athlete who has overcome physical adversity to make a contribution to his or her team, went to Pat Magnarelli of the men’s basketball team. Magnarelli missed his entire junior year, but came back to shoot 60 percent from the floor as a senior and help the Crimson to a program-record 21 wins.

The John P. Reardon Men’s award was presented to Trevor Petach of the Nordic skiing team, as the senior varsity male athlete who best exemplified the qualities of excellent scholarship, character, leadership and athletic ability. Petach was a captain of the Nordic ski team and received numerous academic accolades, including winning a Goldwater Scholarship, our nation’s most prestigious award for undergraduate science students, as a sophomore. The Harvard-Radcliffe Foundation for Women’s Athletics Prize, presented to Harvard’s top female scholar-athlete, was given to Lizzy Nichols of the women’s soccer team. A four-time All-Ivy League choice and multiple Academic All-Ivy selection, Nichols was awarded the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for her senior thesis and participated in numerous community service efforts, both in Cambridge and abroad.  

Awarded to the senior athlete who has made the most outstanding contribution to Harvard and its neighboring communities, the Francis J. Toland Community Service Award went to Melissa Schellberg of the softball team. Schellberg earned All-Ivy credentials in all four years at Harvard and worked in a volunteer capacity as the community service coordinator, arranging student athlete participation in a multitude of community service endeavors. Claire Sheldon of the women’s golf team took home the Mary G. Paget Prize as the senior who has contributed most to women’s athletics. Sheldon helped the Crimson to its first ever Ivy championship as a sophomore and twice finished in the top three individually at the Ivy League Championship.

The Director’s Award, which is not given out on an annual basis and goes to a senior who made a unique impact on Harvard athletics, was presented to football’s Cheng Ho. In addition to helping the football team to two Ivy championships, Ho flourished in his role as a campus ambassador for athletics, organizing initiatives to build student support for all of Harvard’s athletic programs.

The Francis H. Burr Scholarship, which is the oldest of all the athletic awards at Harvard and recognizes one male and one female athlete for all-around excellence, went to Kaitlin Coil of the Nordic ski team and John Riley of the men’s hockey team. Coil was involved in the Harvard community in multiple ways, serving as a tour guide for the Admissions Office, the lead ballerina of the Harvard Ballet Company and a scientific ambassador with the Harvard Medical School. Riley, an aspiring doctor, humanities scholar and hospital volunteer, was a four-time member of the ECAC Hockey All-Academic team and 2009 winner of the Newbold Rhinelander Landon Memorial Scholarship for his work in classics.