WASHINGTON – The Catholic University of America Athletic Department held its annual Senior Student-Athlete Banquet on Thursday night, honoring the Class of 2016. Every senior Cardinal was recognized before six major awards were handed out.
Men's soccer forward Tyler Zimmerman was selected as the Harris Cup Award Winner, the highest male honor, while women's soccer goalie Lexi Halperin received the highest female honor, the Donley Cup.
All-Americans Bryson Fonville (men's basketball) and Tarah Portland (field hockey) earned Outstanding Student-Athlete accolades in addition to Josh Martin (baseball) and Nicole Castellano (women's swimming) earning the Jone Dowd Role Model award.
The Harris and Donley Cups are presented annually to a male and female student-athletes regarded as outstanding leaders, athletes, and scholars who made a considerable contribution to the campus and community.
Male winner Tyler Zimmerman is described by head men's soccer coach Travis Beauchamp as, "the most driven and accomplished student that I have ever coached." Tyler has excelled in the classroom, on the field and in the community. Not only is he a two-time First Team All-Landmark Conference, he is a CoSIDA Academic All-America, a President's Society Member, an Edward M. Nagel Scholarship Award-Winner in Bio-Medical Engineering, and active community service member.
A true leader and teammate, he was unanimously voted men's soccer's lone captain by his peers for his senior season after helping the Cardinals to back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament and a Landmark Conference Championship in 2014.
Last summer he interned at NIH and prior to that at United Therapeutics Corporation. Tyler is also currently researching breast cancer tumor cells to discover potential new anti-tumor therapies. In addition, he is extremely active in the community, participating in such events as Friends of Jaclyn, The White House's "Get Out and Play" with the US Women's National Team and a student communion escort for Pope Francis' mass at Catholic.
He has been able to balance all of the above and will graduate with both a bachelor's and master's degree this spring.
Female winner Lexi Halperin is the best goalkeeper to ever play soccer at Catholic. Head coach J.P. Sousa remarked that, "it is no coincidence that our most successful run in program history happened during Lexi's career". She graduates holding nine different CUA goalkeeping records, including wins, shutouts and goals against average.
She is only the fifth soccer player to be named to four all-conference teams, earning two All-Landmark First Team and Second Team accolades. Lexi anchored a defense that led Catholic to back-to-back Landmark Conference Championships and NCAA Tournament berths. The Cardinals also achieved a No. 24 national ranking in 2014.
Off the field, Lexi embodied everything that it means to be a team captain. "She was a phenomenally talented player, a trusted teammate, a loyal friend, and the perfect extension to the coaching staff. Words cannot properly describe the lasting legacy Lexi will leave at CUA for years to come," said Coach Sousa.
Lexi has been involved with MLK Day of Service, Relay for Life, Student-Athlete Affairs Committee, Polar Bear Plunge, Tough Mudder for Wounded Warriors, JDRF Real Estate Games, the Civil Engineering Odyssey Day Student Panel and created an environmental stormwater treatment plan with an engineered basin and green roof approved in Prince George's County, all in her time here at Catholic.
The Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete Award is presented to the male and female athlete who have made significant contributions to their respective teams. Among them are CUA record holders, NCAA Championship Tournament participants, and major conference award winners. Each has played a significant role in their team's success over the past four years.
Bryson Fonville is one of the most decorated men's basketball players in school history. The 2015 Landmark Conference Player of the Year finished his career with 1,649 career points, which places him in the top 10 in university history alongside several Division I players and a few members of the 2001 National Championship team. A four-year starter, Fonville was named an All-American by several media outlets in 2015 and 2016, which made him just the 4th two-time All-American in CUA history. Fonville will also join an elite group of Cardinals upon graduation as he will be pursuing a professional career when he leaves campus. He helped lead the Cardinals to the Landmark Conference Championship this past season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times in his his career. He is a two –time Landmark Champion and three-time regular season champ. He also ranks in the top-four all-time at Catholic in steals.
Tarah Portland has also had a fantastic career at Catholic. Head coach Gia Cillizza noted her "work ethic, maturity, tenacity and athleticism" that propelled her to become a two-year captain, three-year first-team all-conference, all-region and ultimately an All-American. Tarah's commitment to excellence is seen in her 8 semesters on Dean's List with either high or highest distinction and four years on the NFHCA Academic Squad.
Portland helped lead the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament in every season of her Catholic career. She is a three-time Landmark Conference Champion and Regular-Season Champ. This past season, the co-captain was selected to the NFHCA All-Region First Team and was a Senior Game selection.
The Jone Dowd Student-Athlete Role Model Award is given annually to a male and female student-athlete who exudes graciousness in victory, humility in defeat and rallies their peers to consistently compete at a high level in athletics and beyond.
Josh Martin has often been referred to loudest voice at every CUA sporting event, supporting his fellow Cards whenever possible. In addition, he has served as a SAAC Vice President and President, showing a long-standing commitment to community service. He is heavily involved with Special Olympics, raising money for a tremendous cause as the event was recognized with a Josten's and National Athletic Director's Association Community Service Award.
On the field, the senior captain overcame serious injury to become one of the team's most trusted relievers, totaling 43.2 innings pitcher in his Cardinal career, including 20 games after his arm injury.
Not only is female recipient Nicole Castellano a role model for Catholic Athletics, she is the the model for all University students, as evident by her recognition as the 2016 President's Award winner, the University highest honor bestowed on a student.
In addition to being captain on the swimming team, Nicole is a student leader and volunteer for the Brookland Outreach team in the Office of Campus Ministry. There she leads in the planning of large events that bring over 1,200 people from the community to campus every semester. As an elementary education major, she cares for the children of the surrounding community and has dedicated both her academic and volunteer hours to them. Nicole has also traveled on two University Mission Trips, serving as a team leader for the trip to Belize last year.