Student-athletes honored at Celebration of Excellence
Athletes recognized at the ceremony remark on how grateful they are to be a part of the Dartmouth athletics community.
Last Monday, the athletic department held its annual Celebration of Excellence, an event to honor and announce the student-athletes who were nominated by their coaches and captains for seven different awards. These athletes were chosen for their achievement on and off the field during the 2021-2022 academic year.
The Alfred E. Watson Trophy was presented to Jalen Mackie ’22 for being “Dartmouth’s top male student athlete of the year.” A linebacker on the football team, Mackie led the Ivy League with an average of ten tackles a game this past fall.
Women’s rugby player Idia Ihensekhien ’21 was given the Class of 1976 Award for the most outstanding female athlete. Highlights of her year include helping her team achieve a 7-0 record last fall, a 56-5 win in the 15s national semifinal and leading the team in the 15s national championship to victory by scoring two tries.
The Kenneth Archibald Prize was awarded to Derek Kyler ’21 as the best all-around athlete of the graduating class while also having moral worth and high standing in scholarship. Kyler, who is quarterback on the football team, was integral to the program’s back-to-back Ivy League Championship win and was ranked second in the nation this year on his completion percentage of 70.7%. He set both Dartmouth and Ivy League records in completion percentage and passing efficiency.
The winners for the Class of 1948 Scholar-Athlete Award, given “to one male and one female athlete of the junior class, who have combined outstanding performance in athletics and significant achievement in academics,” were Cameron Wolfe ’23 of the men’s nordic skiing team and Samantha Yao ’23 of the women’s golf team.
“I think the reason why I was able to win is that I have so many good resources around me, from my coaches to my professors and of course my family at home,” Wolfe said.
Ranked the 11th best nordic skier in the east this past winter, Wolfe also holds a 3.93 GPA while pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering. Wolfe noted that while racing all winter, his professors were very understanding of his athletic commitment, ensuring that he never had to choose between skiing and classes.
“I think Dartmouth has a very open and encouraging atmosphere when it comes to trying to be an athlete and a student,” Wolfe said. “I’d say I’m super lucky to even have the possibility to do that.”
Men’s soccer player Mothibi Penn-Kekana ’22 won the Class of 1950 Award, which is given to the “varsity student-athlete who has demonstrated the most extraordinary commitment to community service.” Penn-Kekana, who is from South Africa, is the teaching assistant coordinator for the economics department and took a gap year to coach youth soccer in South Africa.
Men’s basketball player Taurus Samuels ’22 was awarded the Timothy Wright Ellis 1955 Memorial Award, which is a male athlete chosen by the captains of the men’s teams who shows extracurricular and scholastic drive, spirit, loyalty and amiability.
Samuels has been president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee for the past two years and served as his team's representative his sophomore year. He is the head of professional development for the Dartmouth Black Student Athlete Association and also ran an initiative to get student-athletes out to vote in 2020.
“We got 90% of eligible student-athletes registered to vote which was super cool,” Samuels said. “It was my first time getting to lead an initiative.”
Lilly Durbin ’21, who is on the women’s rugby team, was awarded the Agnes Kurtz Award, which is given to “the woman who best combines proficiency in athletics with dedication to the furthering of women’s sports.” Even after undergoing heart surgery in 2019 and facing uncertainty about the future of her rugby career, Durbin was one of the leaders of the team that won the national championship in the fall.
“I think women’s rugby, as a team, we try to help further women’s sports in any way that we can,” Durbin said. “We help out with [National Girls and Women in Sports Day] and so I think [this award] is definitely a reflection of the whole team and how we embody the characteristics that rugby tries to uphold all over the world.”