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A tribute to graduated athletes

Published: September 2, 2005
Section: Sports


Every year around late May in the suburb ten miles west of Boston, known as the Watch City, over 800 young men and women depart for bigger and better things. Some will be doctors. Some will be lawyers. Very few, if any, will be professional athletes.

As far as intense competition goes, this is it for most of these student athletes who have spent endless hours on the cramped athletic fields after demanding classes. No more hauling the pitching-machine out to the Stein Diamond. Days of endlessly dribbling soccer balls around the practice field while professors and students casually run in circles around you are over.

The following pages pay tribute to only some of those athletes who for the past four seasons put forth their best effort whether there were 1000, 100, 10 or 1 fans in the bleachers. While helping to build up the athletic spirit in the community, they achieved numerous goals along the way. Their tremendous dedication and hard work did not go unnoticed and they should be commended for their outstanding leadership and athletic achievements.

Womens Soccer
Couldnt the four of you have picked different years to graduate in? Jeez. Kirsten Tracy, Melissa Gordon, Sarah Staid, and Skylar Buchanan have donned the Brandeis Blue for the last time. Why is this such a big deal? In addition to being good teammates and solid contributors, these women each occupy one of the different major positions.

It is no secret that these four women were not among the UAA leaders in terms of minutes played this past season. However, their guidance and leadership for the younger teammates was a key component for the teams successful run in the 04 season. Their ability to sacrifice their personal egos for the good of the team is very commendable and will be missed greatly next season.

Men's Baseball
Its only fitting that discussion of the baseball team begins with B.J. Belair, for it was Belair who so often started rallies for the Judges this previous spring. Belair emerged from a utility infielder to the starting second baseman over the course of his collegiate career. Defensively, he is solid with a capital S with his sure handed fielding skills and quick relase.

Lambert assumed the role of the closer this past Spring and has been nothing short of dominant. After a tough rookie season, Lambert rebounded to have two strong springs during his sophomore and junior seasons. This year he had 39 strikeouts with a 1.38 ERA. He was selected as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division III National Pitcher of the Week over the span of April 18-24. After an impressive summer in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, Lambert was subsequently called up to the Washington Nationals Single-A affiliate team. When not pitching, Lambert occupied first base and the third spot in the batting order.

Women Runners
There is good news and bad news for womens cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track teams in the fall of 2005. Bad news first. They lose three great athletes in Rachel Ackerman, Sarah Beckwith and Mia Lefkowitz. The good news is that us Deis athletic fans finally catch a break. They all come from the same group, that of the distance runners who grind it out on a daily basis.

All three have had quite the track record in their time on South Street. Ackerman, Beckwith and Lefkowitz have all been solid contributors on the Womens Cross Country, Indoor Track and Outdoor Track teams during their tenures at Brandeis. The outdoor track and field team has two athletes who are Spring time only employees.
Haley Zella has been a staple for the shot-put crew during her tenure at Brandeis. In fact she has been the womens shot-put crew, as she is the only female shot putter on board. She has competed in many of the teams most important meets, including UAA Championships. Last but certainly not least is sprinter Kate Schill from Longmeadow, MA. The sprinting squad will surely miss their leader in the upcoming season.

Womens Volleyball
A Volleyball team does not make it to the ECAC Division III New England tournaments four times in the past six years without a strong core of senior captains. Iron horse Shannon Eagan has struggled with injuries and sickness for the majority of her career, yet has not missed a match as the teams setter.

South Florida native Jen Lobban, who has paced the Judges in hitting percentage over the past two seasons, has spiked her last ball in the Gosman gymnasium. She hit for an impressive .305 mark her junior season, good for sixth best in the UAA. Lastly, defensive specialist Becca Segal departs after leading the Judges in blocks during several seasons.

The three headed monster of Eagan, Lobban and Segal is sorely missed now, as the start of the season is just around the corner.

Mens Basketball
Bryan Lambert. Enough said. This 69 center has been an indomitable force on the Red Auerbach parquet for half a decade now. He was and in many ways still is the heart and soul of this basketball team.

Omri Ayalon quietly emerged as a leader both on and off the court. The polite guard had a breakout season during his Junior year, becoming a scoring threat off the bench with his long range shooting ability. His strong leadership abilities were important in motivating teammates during difficult times.

Scott Green and Yogev Burdugo did not lead the team in minutes or points, but their contributions both on and off the court were invaluable. Green was an important spark off the bench for the Judges with his tenacious defense and constant energy.

Green is also no stranger to Brandeis sports coverage, having served as WBRS sports director his junior year and calling many womens basketball games when possible. Berdugo played in portions of fifteen games last season and he saw even more action during his senior year.

The Judges did not exactly boast your typical college basketball team roster this past Winter. Ten freshmen, four seniors. However, due to the maturity and leadership that these four seniors displayed, Coach Meehans life was that much easier.

Fencing
The Womens team loses veteran swordsman Meredith Freedman. Her personal choice of weapon is the saber. Freedman is the only lady fencer who will not be returning for the 2005-06 season. With a roster stacked with fencers from the East Coast, Freedman comes from the under-represented Midwest. This past February 10th, Freedman along with teammates Liesse Slemon and Christine Morra, were honored as the UAA womens fencing Athletes of the Week.

The saber team received this prestigious reward after tallying 26 points en route to a first place finish in the Duke Invitational.

The Mens squad sees the departure of a trio of seniors this spring. To make matters worse, they lose one at three different positions. Allan Madi, veteran handler of the foil and epee weapons, graduates, as does Benji Rostoker, whose primary position is that of the foil.

Finally, saber magician Jeremy Simpson has twirled his last saber as a member of the Judges fencing team. The talented trio of seniors helped lead the Judges to an impressive 5-1 regular season record as well as a 26th place finish out of 33 teams in the NCAA Championships held in Houston, Texas this past March 20th.

Mens Soccer
One could call this team the Juvenile Judges with their roster loaded with youngsters. However, senior co-captains Joe Jorge and Mike Pio made head coach Mike Covans job easier, providing solid leadership in the clubhouse.

Jorge and Pio werent bad on the field either. Jorge, a two time UAA Defensive Player of the Week, consistently played solid defense and scored a goal of his own, while Pio accounted for 5 points on 26 shots. Pio and Jorge are no strangers to each other, having been teammates since the late 90s back at the Ludlow, MA high school. Other seniors on the team included a pair of 57 central Mass. mid-fielders, Tim Shannon and Brian Bisceglia-kane from Auburna and Worcester, respectively. Defense-man Jim Puritz and goaltender Matt Kaplan round out the senior class.

Mens Swimming
Matt Christian is a quiet leader both in and out of the water. The pride of Rehoboth, Mass. competed all four years on the swimming and diving teams. In the latter two years of Christians strong career, he was Mr.Versatile, making a splash in six different events. And what a splash he made. Christian was named an all-UAA swimmer three times and won the New England Division II-III Championship meet on six occasions.
Throw in the six Brandeis records that he holds and one could argue that Christian was one of the most talented swimmers in school history. In addition to being a phenomenal swimmer, Christian is a class act away from the pool.