It was fitting that snow fell as the Brooks community reported to the Frank D. Ashburn Chapel Friday afternoon. That's because the purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the school's annual Winter Sports Awards.
The event, presided over by Athletic Director Bobbie Crump-Burbank P'11, recognized the successes and talents of Brooks teams and players. Coaches presented their namesake awards, Independent School League (ISL) honors, recognitions from the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), and the Best Teammate awards, given to members of 2nd and 3rd squads.
Read on for the news on who won what — and why each team's coach is so proud of all of their dedicated players.
Boys basketball enjoyed a spectacular undefeated season, winning the ISL League Championship and the title of NEPSAC Class B champions. Four sixth-form players: Fru Che '17, Tamenang Cho '17, Isaiah Godwin '17 and Adonis Williams '17 were also named ISL All League and All-New England.
"This senior class was special in the sense that they were terrific players but also wonderful people," said head coach John McVeigh – himself named NEPSAC Class B All-New England Coach of the Year. "I'm happy that so many of them have been recognized for their individual achievements, but to be honest, I'll remember them most as a group: Alex Chaban, Fru Che, Tamenang Choh, Ethan Gabert-Doyon, Isaiah Godwin, and Adonis Williams."
The players "were simply a joy to coach and to know," he continued. "They all sacrificed their individual statistics and glory for the benefit of the team, and the result was three straight undefeated ISL championships and two straight New England championships. They changed our program and brought us to a new level, and we will miss them tremendously next year."
The Brooks School most improved award went to Terrell Brown '18. "Terrell worked incredibly hard to improve between last season and this season," explained McVeigh. "He is turning into one of our best leaders and he will be critically important to our team next year. I really admire Terrell's work ethic and desire to get better each and every day."
Alex Chaban '17 won the team's coaches award – and for very good reason, said McVeigh. "Alex Chaban represents everything you hope to coach," he said. "He is a relentlessly hard worker, a wonderful teammate, and someone who puts the team ahead of himself." A future college soccer player, the coach recognized that Caban breaking his leg in the New England semifinal soccer game this fall would have made it very easy for him to not play basketball this year. "Instead, he came to every practice and every game in a cast, determined to help us through his leadership and voice," said McVeigh. "During the season, he endured a setback, but instead of getting disappointed about it, he just went to work on his physical therapy. It meant so much to all of us to see him be able to get on the court for our senior day, and then again when he was able to play in all three New England tournament games. I'm honored to have coached a competitor, person, and player like Alex Chaban."
Girls basketball finished their season on top as well, with 11 wins and eight losses. The team fell to Pomfret School in the first round of the NEPSAC Class B tournament but received recognition for three of its outstanding players.
Alexia Ames '17 was all League ISL and a NEPSAC Class B all star. Ellie Cordes '17 earned ISL honorable mention as well as recognition as a fellow NEPSAC Class B all star. "Alexia, a three-year captain, is one of the top point guards in the league both for her skills and her leadership," said girls basketball head coach Alex Skinner '08. "She averaged just over 10 points per game over her career and has been running the Brooks offense since her freshman year."
Skinner's praise for Cordes, another three-year captain, was equally glowing. "Ellie has the reputation of being one of the deadliest three-point shooters in the league," he said. "She is always in the right place at the right time. In her final two years, Ellie really committed to becoming a premier defender, covering each team's best player."
The coaches award, meanwhile, was given to four-year sixth-former, Bridget Cifuni '17. "Despite the fact that she is a talented and dedicated softball player all year round, she gave everything she could to the girls' basketball program," said Skinner. "She has grit, competitiveness, and leadership. She was the 'glue kid' who took it upon herself to help the new girls transition to a varsity program – and she improved tremendously as a player over the course of her four years."
Boys ice hockey bestowed a number of awards during the ceremony, with seven students being celebrated for their ISL play. Michael Hughes '19 and Danny Philbrick '17 won Eberhart All-League awards, while honorable mentions went to Jackson Allard '17, Owen Borek '19, Paddy Mangan '18, Max Rand '18, and Johnny Trotto '17.
Trotto and Hughes also earned the Brooks School's David N. Hadad award. "Johnny was quietly and confidently the rock of our team this year," said head coach David Ries. "As our starting goalie, he did his best to help an inexperienced team get its footing in every game. He made a lot of key saves and when he spoke, his teammates listened. We will miss him next year!"
Ries had high praise for Hughes too. "Michael's passion for the game and competitive fire were so influential on his teammates that he was named as a captain halfway through his sophomore season," said the coach. "He was consistently one of our top performers and plays the game the right way. We're excited to watch him grow as a player and a leader over the next two years."
Rand won another award as well: the Wellington Trophy, while the William S. Barr award was shared three ways, between Mangan, Andrew Noel '20 and Borek. "As a new fifth-form player, Paddy [Mangan] jumped right in and quickly won the respect and admiration of his teammates," said Ries. "He is committed to giving his best and improving every time he's on the ice and is a key part of our defensive core. We're excited to see him take on more of a leadership role as he goes into his final year."
As for Noel, the coach continued, "Andrew wears his heart on his sleeve and his competitiveness stands out right away. This year he quickly earned a lot of ice time for a third former, pushed himself and his teammates in practice every day, and will be a big part of our team in the years to come."
Borek, said Ries, "is one of our hardest working and committed kids. His work ethic rubs off on the guys around him. This year he battled through some nagging injuries all season to be one of our most consistent players and we expect him to be a rock for us over the next couple years."
Girls ice hockey awarded a number of winners as well. ISL all-league honors went to Mairi Anthony '17 and Caroline Kukas '19. Gabi Hillner '17 and Tess Martin '17 earned honorable mentions. NEPSAC All-New England winners included Emma English '18 and Kukas, with honorable mention to Anthony as well.
Kukas received the Macomber Bowl to boot. "Caroline's athleticism, goal-tending skills, work ethic and selfless attitude put her amongst the best in New England," said head coach Lori Charpentier P'20. "She is an outstanding competitor and a valuable team member. She is deserving of all the recognition she has received."
As does the entire team. "Our girls worked hard this season and earned a place in the playoffs for the third time in the last four years despite competing in one of the toughest Division II schedules in New England," said Charpentier. "While we had the majority of our team returning from last year, we were still a very young team with only three seniors and we learned valuable lessons this year on which to build for the future."
Boys squash's remarkable season wrapped with the team winning the ISL Team Sportsmanship Award, U.S. Squash High school Championship Division II Runner-Up honors and the NEPSAC Class A Team Sportsmanship Award.
"We've had a very successful season," said head coach Doug Burbank P'11. Three of his squad scored ISL honors as well. Aly Abou Eleinen '18 and Deven Kanwal '19 were named All-League; Max Fern '18 secured an honorable mention.
Abou Eleinen was recognized for other awards in addition: ISL league MVP, Boston Globe all Scholastic, NEPSAC runner-up and All-American, as well as the Douglas G. Burbank award. Ishaan George '18 earned Brooks' Baird Haney award. "Aly and Ishaan have done a terrific job in their roles and helped the team come together," said Burbank adding that he's already looking forward to see what they do next year. "We're very fortunate that many of our players are coming back."
Girls squash triumphed this winter in their own right, finishing third in the NEPSAC Class B Championships, besting 13 other teams.
Victoria Haghighi '19 was named all-league in the ISL, while Katherine Von Stade '17 clinched the number four runner-up and Sabrina Gribble '19 earned the spot of third-place finisher.
Brooks' most improved award went to Molly Carabatsos '17. Von Stade won the coaches award. "I am very proud of their achievements," said coach Kihak Nam '98. "And I feel privileged to have worked with each of them."
Throughout the winter season, Brooks' wrestling team "competed as purely as any team I've ever had," said head coach Alexander Konovalchik P'14, P'17. "When you do that, things work out well." They certainly did.
The "Lucky 13" — as Konovalchik nicknamed the squad — earned a second place finish in the Graves Kelsey tournament. Eight of the team's wrestlers qualified to compete in the New England Wrestling Tournament.
Four wrestlers earned ISL all-league honors, announced during the ceremony: Jason Gold '18, Nick Konovalchik '17, Owen Rosenberger '17 and Matt Viera '17. Gold, Konovalchik and Rosenberger were All-New England as well. Konovalchik was also named All-American – and received Brooks' Payne Wrestling Trophy. "Nick is as good a leader among his teammates as he is an athlete," said coach Konovalchik.
"All four of our all-league wrestlers were outstanding this season," he added. "They were great about always challenging each other to perform at their best."
As for Brooks awards, "Fastest Fall " winner went to Viera. "He had a nine-second pin," boasted Konovalchik. The Spirit of '95 award was given to Chris Capo '18, whom the coach describes as "a fantastic teammate to his peers" with this "outstanding enthusiasm." The E. Graham Ward Wrestling Award was bestowed upon Nick Crary '20. "Nick had an outstanding first year," said Konovalchik. "He was always willing to stay after practice for extra work on technique. And though he was a first-year wrestler, he placed sixth in our league tournament, which is so impressive."
Best Teammate Awards
Coaches and teammates also recognized 2nd and 3rd teams' players with Best Teammate awards. "It commends effort, enthusiasm, support of others and sportsmanship," said Crump-Burbank. "These are the characteristics and values that we strive for at all levels."
So without further ado, the winners of the 2017 Best Teammate Awards:
Basketball, boys 2nd team: Brian Flanagan '18
Basketball, boys 3rd team: Tianshu Wang '19
Basketball, girls 2nd team: Melanie Blanco '18
Ice hockey, boys 2nd team: Charlie Curtis '17
Ice hockey, girls 2nd team: Julia Moore '17
Squash, boys 2nd team: Justin Verissimo '18
Squash, boys 3rd team: Wit Pokachaiyapat '19
Squash, girls 2nd team: Alex Parisi '18
Squash, girls 3rd team: Mary Boshar '20
Standout students from two other afternoon activities — drama and community service — were also honored at the ceremony. Ritika Kommareddi '17 was recognized as drama's Best Teammate, while Jadie De Leon '19 earned the same honor for community service.
"Community service is a team with an added component to its season," Director of Community Service Shaunielle McDonald '94, P'19 has said. "In addition to learning to work effectively as a unit, supporting each other and helping the team function at peak efficiency, team members must also learn to collaborate with an ever-shifting array of outside partners in the work that we do off campus every day, from volunteering at South Lawrence East Elementary to the Cor Unum Meal Center."
Congratulations to all who participated in afternoon activities this past winter season!
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