MEDFORD – Nine Jumbos who helped make the 2016-17 Year in Tufts University Athletics special were honored at the Annual Awards Ceremony on Friday night, October 6.
The event, which kicked off a weekend full of Homecoming activities hosted by Jumbo Athletics, was held at Cohen Auditorium starting at 7:30 pm.
Record-setting running back Chance Brady from the football team received the Clarence "Pop" Houston Award as Male Athlete of the Year. Four-time NCAA "Final Four" participant Michela North from women's basketball was presented with the Hester L. Sargent Award as Female Athlete of the Year.
The Rudolph J. Fobert Awards for academic and athletic achievement went to Annie Artz, a member of the NCAA finalist field hockey team, and Tim Nichols, the men's track NCAA indoor 5,000 meters champion. Both were Academic All-Americans in 2017. Recipients of the Murray J. Kenney Awards for positive attitude and persistence were Kevin Galasso from baseball and women's tennis team co-captain Alexa Meltzer.
Spirit, Sports, Service Awards, given to those who contributed most to Athletics outside of competition, were presented to Football's Alex Kim and Summer Horowitz from the softball team. The recipient of the Timothy J. Horgan Award for student sportswriting was Sam Weitzman.
Here is a closer look at the award recipients:
Brady broke or tied eight season and career records while leading the Tufts football team to its best season since 1998. He rushed for a single-season record 1,099 yards and scored 19 touchdowns as Tufts finished 7-1 for second place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). His 19 touchdowns were six more than any other Jumbo has scored in a season. That added up to 114 points for the year which surpassed the 59-year old previous team mark of 92 points set by Paul Abrahamian in 1957. Named New England Player of the Year by two organizations in 2016, as well as NESCAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, Brady finished his four years with 210 points scored (35 touchdowns) to break the 88-year old Jumbo career scoring record previously held by Tufts legend Fred "Fish" Ellis. Brady capped his 2016 season and career with an extraordinary 185 yards rushing and five touchdowns during a win at Middlebury in the season finale.
North finished her outstanding Tufts women's basketball career with a combination of team and individual achievements unmatched in the program's history. She was a leader on Jumbo teams that reached the NCAA "Final Four" in four consecutive seasons (2014-17). In 2017, she averaged 11.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game as the Jumbos advanced to their second straight NCAA Championship Game. During the year, North became the Tufts program's all-time leading scorer with 1,568 points and its all-time leading rebounder with 1,071 boards. She was one of just 10 players in the nation to receive Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American honors, doing so for the second straight season. Additional honors included D3hoops.com All-Northeast Region and NESCAC All-Conference first team designations. In addition to her achievements on the court, North earned College Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA) All-Northeast Region Academic Team honors last year as well.
Nichols put together and incredible year of athletic and academic achievement in 2016-17. The highlight on the track was winning the NCAA Indoor championship in the 5,000 meters, running a 14:25.08 in Naperville, Illinois on March 10. He had started the year by winning the NESCAC and NCAA New England Regional titles in cross country, prompting the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association of America (USTFCCCA) to name him their New England Athlete of the Year. He then placed third at the NCAA Cross Country Championship Race. In February, Nichols earned the highest academic honor of the cross country season as the USTFCCCA selected him National Scholar Athlete of the Year. He added two more All-American track honors in the spring for four total during 2016-17. He was fourth in the 10,000 meters and fifth in the 5,000 metetrs at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. A biology and anthropology double major, he finished the year by receiving CoSIDA Academic All-America® recognition.
After missing all of her junior season with a knee injury, Artz returned in 2016 and was the leading scorer for the Jumbo Field Hockey team as it won the NESCAC championship and advanced to the NCAA Final. She scored 14 goals with two assists for 30 points, including six goals with an assist in 10 NESCAC games. Four of her goals were game-winners, including in the conference championship against Middlebury which the Jumbos won 3-1. Artz was selected as a National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) second team All-American, as well as a NFHCA All-New England West Region and All-NESCAC first team pick. A psychology major with a mass communications and media studies minor, Artz was a CoSIDA Academic All-America® honoree. She also earned NFHCA All-Academic Team for the third year and an Academic All-NESCAC nod for the second time. For successfully overcoming her knee injury, Artz was also nominated for the Murray Kenney Award at Tufts honoring positive attitude and perseverance.
Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November 2014 during his sophomore year, Galasso beat the cancer and by his sheer force of will returned to the baseball team and became a key contributor to its success in 2017. Given 60-40 odds of surviving, he responded well to 18 weeks of treatment and was declared cancer-free on May 1, 2015. A long road lay ahead, particularly for someone who wanted to pitch again. Some of his doctors didn’t think that was a good idea—the chemotherapy had weakened his joints and bones. He returned to Tufts in September 2015 and was involved with the team, doing light workouts as well as social media and video work. In June 2016, he felt strong enough to begin his comeback attempt. Making a successful debut outing on March 18, 2017, Galasso went on to record a 1.93 earned run average in 13 relief appearances helping Tufts win the NESCAC title and earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
By overcoming an injury to help the Jumbos qualify for NCAA's, earning a sportsmanship award, and being a community service leader, Meltzer met all of the credentials for the Kenney Award and then some. She started her collegiate career at the top of the team before suffering a major knee injury that took more than a year and two surgeries to fully recover from. While on the sidelines during her junior year, she served as a team captain as well as an assistant coach, bringing enthusiasm to the courts every day. In addition, Meltzer played a crucial role as captain in organizing the team's community service efforts with ACEing Autism and Special Olympics. That involvement led to the Jumbos receiving the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's National Community Service Award in 2017. Returing to the court last year, Meltzer helped Tufts earn a NCAA Regional hosting bid for just the second time and received NESCAC's Senior Sportswoman of the Year Award.
Kim, a senior offensive lineman for the football team last year, was the Tufts Football Community Engagement Award winner and a recipient of the 2017 Tufts Presidential Award for Civic Life. He organized the Tufts Football Coat Drive benefitting the Somerville Homeless Coalition for three seasons, helping to collect dozens of coats for the local homeless community. He also coordinated a park clean-up for the Mystic River Watershed Association where the team spent a day cleaning up the Mystic River State Reservation. Kim was football's primary contact and recruiter for Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay and arranged a team activity to volunteer at Camp Harbor View in Boston as role models for underprivileged, inner-city youth. He also helped run a basketball tournament that raised money for Galasso's fight against cancer. Kim was also Chair of the Sportsmanship and Policy Committee for Tufts' Student-Athlete Advisory Committe (SAAC).
Horowitz, a senior on the Jumbo Softball team in 2017, was President of the Tufts Athletics Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in 2016-17. In that role she was the on-campus liaison for Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization founded by Tufts alumni which works to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by pairing them with collegiate athletic teams. She also organized the Tufts University Team IMPACT Day in October 2016, which celebrated the Jumbos' partnership with Team IMPACT and raised money for the organization. Horowitz coordinated SAAC's Speaker Series which brought University of Michigan student Austin Hatch to campus in March to share his story of courage and perseverance. She was also the lead organizer of SAAC's recently-established end of the year barbebue and played a lead role in carrying out several Fan The Fire events - Tufts' celebration of Jumbo pride and the dedication to active citizenship we all share.
In just his first year covering Jumbo sports for the Tufts Daily, Weitzman wrote several impressive pieces as the beat writer for the Tufts football, men's basketball and softball teams in 2016-17. His coverage included articles about football playing for a conference title on the final day of the season as well as men's basketball facing local rival Babson in the NCAA "Sweet 16." He also wrote about the Jumbo baseball team winning the NESCAC title. Among Weitzman's features for the Daily was one a recent Tufts study looking at weight gain trends amongst NESCAC football linemen.