The Osborn’s formal dining room was the scene June 13 for the 13th annual Lions Club Athlete of the Year ceremony. Nine Rye High School scholar-athletes, their families, and coaches gathered to learn whom the RHS student body voted in as the best of the best.
Lions Club Secretary/Treasurer Dave Heller presided at the dinner, the 13th annual presentation of the award, during which retiring football coach Tom Maloney and former Mayor Steve Otis, both members of the organization, made remarks. Mr. Heller then introduced the contenders, each a winner of the Athlete of the Month award during the 2010-11 school year.
Nominated were Lia Bellizzi, Rye’s All-American soccer forward; Luis DelPezo, a senior captain of Rye’s outstanding boys’ soccer team; Laurel Kennedy, co-captain for the Garnets’ field hockey team that played in the Section finals; Chris Lyons, swimming titleholder and future U. of Penn student; Davidson-bound basketball star Lillian McCabe, Rye’s fourth 1,000-point scorer ever and the first female athlete to earn a full-ride scholarship; Brian Pickup, a four-year basketball starter and the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (not to mention hero of Rye’s football victory over Harrison in the fall); Kevin Hughes, an All-American swimmer who also won the honor as a junior; All-Elite lacrosse player, Maddy Chabot, who doubled as a captain of the Garnet soccer team that became State champions in 2008 and ranked No. 1 in the country for much of last fall; and, last but not least, golf’s Jennifer Lee, fresh off her New York state top-20 finish and the year’s only monthly winner as a junior.
Mr. Heller then introduced retired Fox Lane Athletic Director Rod Merguardt, who, as part of his keynote speech, challenged the students not just to win, but to set their best performances as a personal standard to overcome. To prove his point, he asked Jen Lee to jump as high as she could, and then attempt to outdo herself. She proceeded to do just that.
Finally, Mr. Heller brought out the enormous trophy and presented it to the 2011 winner, Brian Pickup. After the ceremony, Pickup was asked whom he had voted for. “My vote goes to Kevin Hughes. He’s done so much to put Rye swimming on the map.”
Pickup, who’s earned varsity letters in football, basketball, and lacrosse, then humbly stood in the back row to pose for photos with the other nominees.