Players vs. the Pandemic

By Caleb Morris

Despite everything, Sidwell Friends had a stellar year in athletics.

The 2020/21 Sidwell Friends athletics calendar was unlike any other in recent memory. Even with the initial challenges of masks and physical distancing, the athletes persisted, reached several major accomplishments, and moved forward. By exploring new opportunities and expanding current ones, athletes took advantage of their natural adaptability—and the show went on. Students and coaches learned how to hold team meetings on Zoom. Meeting rooms were replaced with living rooms, kitchens, porches, and family rooms. From Middle School to the varsity teams and from field hockey to wrestling, staying connected was essential.

While a lot of games were canceled and competition had to be replaced with practice, off campus alumni were shining. Taylor Knibb ’16 qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after earning gold at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan. Knibb, 23, is the youngest woman in history to make the U.S. Olympic triathlon team. Knibb joins Jair Lynch ’89 and becomes the second Sidwell Friends alum to compete in the Olympics. Jair won a silver medal in the parallel bars at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Another major accomplishment came from Kendall Dudley ’24 and Jadyn Donovan ’23: They are among 20 players selected to try out for the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) 2021 U16 USA National Team, which will compete in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Santiago, Chile. In 2019, Kiki Rice ’22 was a member of the USA U16 National Team that won gold. What’s more, over at Middlebury College, two Sidwell Friends classmates, golfer Jordan Bessalel ’17 and ice-hockey player Elise Park ’17, were awarded the Haseltine-Klevenow Memorial Trophy, Middlebury’s top honor given to a male and female athlete for combined excellence in both athletics and academics.

Back on campus at Sidwell Friends, the Athletics department welcomed the new head football coach, Donald Davis, who previously coached a winning team at Calvert Hall High School in Baltimore. He joined the coaches as they brought passion and excitement to the players when the School celebrated the 13 graduating seniors who have chosen to continue their athletic and academic careers at the NCAA level. Additionally, the School held its annual Celebration of Athletics ceremony to honor those graduating seniors who have made lasting impacts on campus and within their teams. The Distinguished Achievement Awards went to Ryan Cornish ’21, who will play basketball at Dartmouth; Akira Morgenstern ’21, who will play tennis at Georgetown; and Michael Zhang ’21, who will play tennis at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Unsung Winners Awards went to: Eva Ross ’21 and Charlotte McGuire ’21, who will play soccer at Amherst; and to Max Freishtat ’21, who will play basketball at Hamilton College. The Fine Award went to Delaney Edmonds ’21 and the Wannan Award to Beau Burns ’21, who will play lacrosse at Bowdoin College. This year’s Tyler Christian Rusch ’04 Award recipients were Alexi Weinberg ’21 and Allison Barker ’21, who will run cross-country at Washington University in St. Louis.

In early April, just over 13 months since Sidwell Friends’ teams last competed on campus, the Athletics department was able to host its first on-campus competitions—and they haven’t looked back. Since those early April contests, athletes have been able to play home games in baseball, softball, tennis, and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. With a more typical 2021/22 academic year and athletics calendar on the horizon, the athletes are looking forward to a full competitive schedule on campus next fall. #GoQuakers


THE AWARDS

THE UNSUNG HERO AWARD recognizes a senior male and female athlete for contributions that might otherwise go unrecognized. The recipients of the award—by virtue of their presence, participation, dedication, and enthusiasm—have significantly enriched the Sidwell Friends Athletic Department.

THE DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD honors senior student- athletes who have earned significant accolades at the league level and beyond and who have admirably represented their teams and Sidwell Friends in competition.

THE WANNAN AND FINE AWARDS acknowledge a senior male and female athlete who, by consensus of the Athletic Department, deserve recognition for their talent, leadership, dedication, sportsmanship, broad participation, and involvement in all aspects of School life.

THE TYLER CHRISTIAN RUSCH ’04 AWARD commends a senior male and female athlete who have significantly enriched Sidwell Friends Athletics through motivational leadership, steadfast participation, dedication to teamwork, enthusiasm, and all-out effort. This award is named in memory of former student Tyler Rusch ’04.

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Sidwell Friends Alumni Magazine is published three times a year for the community. It features School news, stories, profiles, and alumni Class Notes.

Email magazine@sidwell.edu with story ideas or letters to the editor.