Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Westchester's All-Ivy

Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, as a freshman, climbed his way toward the top of the Ivy League in batting, was a second-team selection on the All-Ivy team, and received the team's best-hustler award. (Yale photos)


Just like the captain who sits gracefully on the Yale fence in the Y sweater, one other Yale athletic tradition calls for Yale teams to gather immediately after the season to carouse, sing praises to games that recede into the past, and distribute trophies and plaques to teammates who might have made the season special.  It's also a time to celebrate those who were agile, strong or adept enough on playing fields to earn the acclaim "All-Ivy." Teams elect a new captain who, too, gets the privilege of sitting on the wooden fence with a new Y sweater, like the hundreds before her (or him).

In some ways, Yale athletic seasons are like those in the Big 10 or SEC--lots of preparation, sweat, hard work and a long stretch of tedium with games after games, without the obvious fanfare that swamps the power leagues. At season's end, athletes welcome the chance to exhale and pause to reflect on the season.

At team banquets around and about Payne Whitney this spring, Westchester athletes grabbed their share of honors as a reward for the season.  Some even earned spots on All-Ivy teams.

A year ago, Richard Slenker '17 was touted as the best high-school baseball player in Westchester while playing for Fox Lane.  So perhaps it isn't a surprise that as a freshman--yes, a freshman--infielder, he swatted and fielded his way onto second team, All-Ivy.  Injuries plagued him sometimes during a season with Yale winding up with a respectable 19-22 record. (The team lost more than it won, but achieved its most wins since 2011.)

Slenker shined whenever he had the opportunity, enough to climb to the top in batting in the Ivy League with a .352 average. At the team banquet, he won the David Darst Hustle Cup for the player exhibiting the most enthusiasm, desire, and, of course, hustle. 

Chappaqua's Matt Townsend '15 averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds during the year. He eventually played his way back onto Yale basketball's starting line-up and helped the team reach the championship game of the CIT tournament, a post-season affair that's not the heralded NCAA tournament, but is still a basketball-fest that rewards squads with winning records.

On banquet night, the spotlight gleamed on him, too.  As a member of Phi Beta Kappa (with a 4.0 average), he earned the Derby Academic Award for the third time, was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America team, and earned a berth on the Academic All-Ivy team (for all winter sports). 

Rye's Cornelius Sanders '14 joined Townsend on the Winter Academic All-Ivy team. Sanders, an epee fencer, captained the Yale team for the second straight year and also accepted a team recognition, the Richard Brodhead '68 '72 Ph.d. Award, that goes to the Yale team with the highest academic performance. Yale fencers achieved an astounding 3.73 team GPA.  When the fencers gathered for the team banquet, they handed Sanders the Pop Grasson Cup for the teammate who contributed the most to the team. Sanders performed well enough in the season to reach the NCAA regionals.

For most Yale sports, the locker rooms have shut down for the summer. Teams have dispersed, and seniors have fled collegiate fields and courts forever.  Some, like Sanders, Townsend, and Slenker, have some sparkling hardware to place atop a cabinet or to haul back down I-95 to Westchester to show to an old high school coach.

Chappaqua's Matt Townsend '15 (above) was selected to Capital One's Academic All-America team and the Winter All-Ivy team and received the team academic award for the third year in a row. (Yale photos)
Rye's Cornelius Sanders '14 (top, second from R) accepted the Richard Brodhead '68, '72 Ph.d. Award on behalf of his fencing teammates for the Yale team with the best academic performance. (Yale photos)

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