Eight monthly winners of the Rye Lions Club student-athlete awards gathered at the year-end dinner the club held for them at The Osborn June 13.
By Mitch Silver
Eight monthly winners of the Rye Lions Club student-athlete awards gathered at the year-end dinner the club held for them at The Osborn June 13. It would have been nine, but the winner for April — George Kirby, drafted hours before by The Mets — was busy accepting Section One’s baseball pitcher of the year award the same evening.
Not only was each winner formally toasted and presented with his/her certificate of accomplishment by a Rye High coach, but the winner of the Athlete of the Year voting held earlier among Garnet seniors was announced. Maddie Eck, September’s winner for her stellar work as Rye’s soccer goalkeeper, and an All-Section choice as the Garnets’ basketball center in the winter, took home the grand award for the year and was feted as the consummate team player by her soccer coach, Rich Savage.
Rod Mergardt, leaving the job of Rye’s interim Athletic Director, gave the keynote speech. Citing former UCLA Coach John Wooden as one of his inspirations, he had the honorees come to the front of the room and urged them to use their leadership skills to make winning a continuing part of their lives. Then he asked Boys’ basketball star Mark Croughan to stand next to the wall and “jump as high as you possibly can.” After the first jump, he asked January’s winner if he was satisfied. “Let me try it again.” Two more leaps later — each a little higher than the one before — Mergardt let Croughan take his seat and left the athletes with this thought: “If you ask more of your people than they think they can do, you’ll get more from them.”
Much was asked of these Rye athletes, in the classroom as well on the field of play, and…obviously…much was given.