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Senior athletes and alumni honored at Gary Walters '67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet

As commencement draws near, the Princeton Varsity Club honored its graduating seniorson Thursdayevening at the annual Gary Walters ’67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet. The event was renamed after the 2013-14 academic year to honor Walters, who was Princeton’s athletic director from 1994 to 2014.

After opening remarks by current Athletic Director Mollie Marcoux ’91, the mic was passed to senior Zack McCourt of men's tennis. In his address to the crowd, McCourt recounted his many difficult experiences at Princeton, from the transition between high school and college athletics, to the shock he faced when receiving the results of his first math exam. Throughout his four years, McCourt pointed to the support of his teammates as crucial to his success and credits the trials he faced in tennis as instrumental to helping him succeed in academics.


The Marvin Bressler Award, named after the sociology professor whose tenure at Princeton spanned 30 years, was awarded to Tara Christie Kinsey ’97. The award is given to the person who most embodies and promotes the importance of athletics and academics in harmony as part of a successful Princeton career.

The Class of 1916 Cup, awarded to the senior student-athlete in the highest academic standing was given to sprint football’s Chris McCord. The Art Lane ’34 award, given to Princeton athletes to honor their service to both their sport and community, went to men’s soccer’s senior Andrew Mills and women’s volleyball’s senior Tiana Woolridge.

The following award, the Class of 1967 Princeton Varsity Club Citizen Athlete Award, was given to one of the biggest names present on the night: Jason Garrett ’89, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. Addressing the crowd after being introduced by head football coach Bob Surace ’90, Garrett expressed repeatedly throughout his speech how coming to Princeton changed his life. Garrett also pointed out that his becoming a Tiger was not due to some long thought-out decision, but rather simply because Princeton had a high octane offense. “They threw the ball a lot,” Garrett reminisced.

One of Garrett’s words of wisdom to the Class of 2015 was to know when and how to be a leader. “When you’re a leader, grasp the mantle of leadership,” Garrett urged. He also implored the Class of 2015 to avoid “finish-line anxiety,” i.e. not to focus on their future goals so much that they forget to enjoy the experience leading up to them. “If you have the relentless pursuit of excellence and you just run, all that stuff will take care of itself.” Garrett said.

Following Garett, Courtney Banghart, head coach of the women’s basketball team was presented the Naismith Trophy. Banghart was the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year after leading Princeton to a 31-1 record, and the program’s first win in the NCAA Tournament.

The final awards of the night were the C. Otto von Kienbusch Award and the William Winston Roper Trophy, which are respectively presented to the female and male student athletes who have exhibited high levels of scholarship, sportsmanship and athletic performance in their time at Princeton. Senior Blake Dietrick of women’s basketball and senior Mike MacDonald of men’s lacrosse received the awards.