Friday night of Reunions weekend marked the traditional rugby dinner and club awards’ celebration. The evening began with welcome refreshments on the Dickey-Larrimer Rugby Porch at the Tiger Inn where old friends from the men’s and women’s teams gather to relive the highlights of their rugby careers at Princeton or discuss the continuing adventures of the Flying Tigers.
This year’s event had a special kick-off when a commemorative tankard was given to James Baker, class of 1952, to mark his Princeton rugby career in addition to a lifetime of impressive political achievements. James Baker served as White House Chief of Staff and United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan, and as U.S. Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush. He posed for photos with former teammates in addition to current members of the Alumni Rugby Board.
At the dinner, each departing senior received the famous rugby alumni tie in addition to an official welcome to the Flying Tigers alumni side. This year marked the graduation of five seniors: Nick Dreher Jack Jankowski, Lucas Mazzotti, Mohammed Shalan, and Max Weber. Coaches Richard Lopacki and MC Laubscher presented the ties.
Awards to mark special achievements and contributions throughout the year were then announced. As is the custom, prior winners of each award assisted in the presentation.
Graduating Senior Lucas Mazzotti received the Harry Langenberg ’31 Award for outstanding dedication and service to the Princeton Rugby Football Club. As president of the team, Lucas worked tirelessly to make the 2017 tour to South Africa a reality. Lucas celebrated with Ross Mazo and Will Harsh, who have also received Langenberg recognition.
Adrian Odunayo, a junior, received the Phil Rogers’ ‘ 79 Memorial Prize in recognition for his “unique leadership and sportsmanship qualities, both on and off the rugby field.” Adrian received the trophy from Henry Maguire ’79, and Ieva Rogers ’80, and Phil’s older son Oliver Rogers.
For an unprecedented second year, junior Billy Haynes received the Mello Award, given to the player who best represents the values of dedication, team-ship, loyalty and friendship on and off the pitch. This award was established in 2002 in memory of Chris Mello class of ’98 who died on September 11th, 2001. Prior Mello winners Nonso Maduka, Josh Grehan and Spencer Ryan joined Billy in celebration.
And the Best and Fairest Award, given to the player in the club who embodies the quote “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too”, was given to graduating senior Max Weber. This is an award established in 2005, dedicated to the memory of Rob Koranda ’02, who was the first winner of the Chris Mello Award. Phil Halsey, Pete Davison, Peter Na and Michael Dreibelbis, past recipients, were on hand to assist Max’s celebrations.
Winners of both the Mello and Best and Fairest awards are chosen by the votes of their teammates.