April 25, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - On Saturday, the Yale men's fencing team held its annual banquet to celebrate the 2008-2009 season. The team honored several fencers as well as Head Coach Henry Harutunian for their achievements this past season. Additionally, the team announced that it had elected junior Andrew Holbrook as the team captain for next year.
Coach Harutunian was honored at the banquet for being named to the United States Fencing Hall of Fame this past summer. He has coached at Yale since 1969, and during this time, he has coached several All-Americans and fencing champions. Additionally, he has also coached the United States Fencing team at the Olympics and at the Pan-American games, and won several Coach of the Year awards.
Jonathan Holbrook was awarded the Kristaps Keggi Award, given to a freshman member of the team who best exemplifies the qualities of competitive spirit, achievement and dedication to Yale fencing. Exceptionally, the team was honored to have Dr. Kristaps Keggi at the ceremony to present the award. Holbrook put in a lot of hard work and sacrifice for the team this past season, opting to fence saber instead of his normal foil, until his season was ended by an ankle injury.
Nathaniel Botwinick received the Coach Harutunian Award for Best Sophomore, given to the best sophomore fencer, inspired by Ayo Griffin's achievements. Andrew Holbrook was awarded the Coach Harutunian Award for Best Junior, given to a junior member who best exemplifies the qualities of competitive spirit, achievement and dedication to Yale Fencing.
Michael Pearce was awarded the Everett M. Wetchler Memorial Award, given to that senior member of either the men's or women's varsity team who best exemplifies the qualities of competitive spirit, achievement and dedication to Yale fencing. Pearce was also awarded the "Pop" Grasson Cup, for the team member who, by spirit and determination, has contributed most to the varsity team. Additionally, Pearce was also honored with the Most Valuable Fencer Award, given to fencers who achieve All-American status at the NCAA Championship.
Junior Andrew Holbrook commented on what Pearce has meant to Yale fencing and what it will mean to lose him to graduation.
"Mike's performance this season was an important aspect of why the team was able to accomplish so much. His leadership, advice and expertise have had a great impact on why we have become such a close team. We will really miss his presence on the team next year."
Andrew Holbrook, who served as the team manager this past season, was elected to be the next captain of the Yale men's fencing team. Holbrook was also awarded the Stephen Blum Award, also called the Friend of the Fencing Team Cup. The award is given in honor of Stephen Blum, Class of 1974, and it is awarded to that member of the Yale fencing team who, through great personal sacrifice, along with a deep sense of enthusiasm and devotion to his fellow fencers, has contributed most to the organization, well-being and general morale of the Yale fencing team.
"I am honored to have been selected men's team captain," reflected Holbrook. "I am excited for the team's future and am looking forward to working to make next year even better. The team has a number of goals, but our most important is winning the Ivy League championship. We will be satisfied with nothing less for this coming season. It will only be possible with the continued dedication that has been shown on all levels of the team. We have one of the strongest freshman classes in recent memory and as they become sophomores next year, we will be looking to them, as well as our strong junior and senior fencers to bring out the best in this team."
Holbrook will be working with junior Rebecca Moss, who was elected 2009-10 women's captain at the banquet.
"Rebecca and I have many ideas on how to improve our training and practice next year and we are both looking forward to implementing them," Holbrook said.
Holbrook also expressed his gratitude towards Beth Merritt and Corey Friedlander for the wonderful job they did presiding over the banquet.
Report By Arsi Sefaj '11, Yale Sports Publicity