After much debate, research and fanfare, the Tufts Daily Sports Section has come to its conclusions for the annual Tufts Daily sports awards. Here’s the shakedown:
Male Athlete of the Year: Roger Gu
After leading the men’s swimming and diving team to its first-ever conference win, shattering countless records along the way and finishing second nationally in the 100-meter freestyle, it was hard to believe then-sophomore Roger Gu could possibly top his 2017–18 season. However, the Ashland, Mass. native found a way to do just that this year as a junior. At the NESCAC championships in February, he took home three relay victories and two individual wins. He left the NCAA championships with five All-American honors, most notably first and second-place finishes in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle, respectively. The rising senior’s national title was the first for a Jumbo swimmer since 1982.
Female Athlete of the Year: Natalie Bettez
When 5k national champion Brittany Bowman (LA ’18) graduated last year, she passed the baton to graduating senior Natalie Bettez to lead the herd. The Bolton, Mass. native ran with the opportunity, shaving impressive time off last year’s marks to capture first-place finishes at the first two cross country meets of the 2018 season. Her streak continued at the All-Divisions New England Championship, where she broke 18 minutes to finish first of 168 runners, including Div. I athletes, becoming the first Jumbo to do so since 1975. After hanging up her spikes, Bettez will attend Tufts University School of Medicine, where she was accepted through the Early Assurance Program.
Male Rookie of the Year: Ben Stein
Rising sophomore Ben Stein receives this year’s Male Rookie of the Year award thanks to his strong performance in the multi-events in the indoor and outdoor seasons of track and field. Among the 18 first-years on the team, Stein’s results in the heptathlon and decathlon impressed. At the indoor Div. III New England Championships at the end of February, Stein placed sixth in the heptathlon with 4,473 points. Then, over spring break at San Diego State University’s 41st Annual Aztec Invitational, Stein scored 5,689 points in the decathlon to capture fifth place out of a field of Div. I, Div. II and Div. III athletes.
Female Rookie of the Year: Maggie Dorr
With exceptional performances in both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, rising sophomore Maggie Dorr stepped up to lead the women’s tennis team this season, ranked No. 9 in the country as of April 25. In her first NESCAC match of the regular season, Dorr set the tone by issuing statement wins at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles against Trinity. Then, against then-No. 5 Williams, Dorr partnered with rising sophomore Caroline Garrido at No. 1 doubles to triumph, 8–3; Dorr and Garrido’s match played a crucial role in the 5–4 win, Tufts’ first over Williams since 1991. Other highlights of the season included Dorr’s three-set triumph over then-No. 3 Middlebury at No. 2 singles (7–5, 2–6, 10–8).
Coach of the Year: Josh Shapiro
Josh Shapiro has coached the men’s soccer team for almost a decade, turning the average-at-best Tufts team into a national juggernaut. Case in point: Shapiro has led the Jumbos to three NCAA titles in the past five years. For their efforts this season culminating in yet another national championship, Shapiro and his staff were named the Div. III coaching staff of the year. The last few seasons have been record breaking for the team — the team went unbeaten with an 18–0–3 record in 2018. The year before, the team boasted a goals-against average of 0.09, conceding only two goals in 21 games. The team is locked and loaded for another national championship campaign next year, as Tufts boasts scintillating sophomore, junior and senior classes teeming with talent.