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Seven Camels Honored as Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars

Seven Camels Honored as Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars

NEW LONDON, Conn.--Seven Connecticut College student athletes have been honored as 2014 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars by Diverse Issues in Higher Education Magazine.

Kaitlyn Cresencia (New Providence, N.J.), Aaron Davis (New London, Conn.), Ajami Gikandi (Princeton, N.J.), Val Goldstein (Brookline, Mass.), Adam Patel (Alpharetta, Ga.),  Daniel Sandoval (East Windsor, N.J.) and Aina Torres (Barcelona, Spain) were all named to the squad. 

Diverse Issues in Higher Education established the Sports Scholars Awards to honor undergraduate students of color who have made academic and athletic achievement a winning combination. Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe Jr.'s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, Diverse Issues in Higher Education invites every college and university in the country to participate in this annual awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars.

In addition to their athletic ability, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must exhibit academic excellence and community activism.  To be included, students have to compete in an intercollegiate sport, maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 and be active on their campuses or in their communities. 

"We are extremely proud of this group of student-athletes who have performed in competition, succeeded in the classroom, and have given back to the local community," said Fran Shields, the Katherine Wenk Christoffers Director of Athletics and Chair of Physical Education at Connecticut College.  "They personify the Division III student-athlete."

Cresencia has been a key contributor for the Camel women's basketball team that has qualified for the NESCAC Championship in two of her three years with the program. She buried a clutch three pointer to help the Camels knock off a nationally ranked Williams College team in February. In the classroom, Cresencia carries a major in economics. 

"We are excited that Kaitlyn is being honored as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education," Connecticut College Head Women's Basketball Coach Brian Wilson said. "This recognition is well-deserved as Kaitlyn has been the consummate scholar-athlete, teammate, leader and citizen over the course of her Connecticut College career.  She is one of the most enthusiastic, engaging, caring and positive players I have had the pleasure to coach and she is an outstanding student and has served our campus community in a number of areas.  Kaitlyn is an extremely valuable member of our women's basketball program and of the College and we are thrilled for her and her family."  

Davis, a senior member of the cross country and track and field teams, is making his second consecutive appearance on the squad. 

Davis has excelled with the College's Dance Team and as an admissions tour guide. He received his degree in classics and dance. At the NESCAC Championship in April, in his final meet as a Camel, Davis broke the two minute mark for the first time on his leg of the 4x800 meter relay helping the team run 7:56.77 to place fourth in that event."

"Aaron Davis is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious award," Connecticut College Men's Cross Country Coach/Associate Head Track & Field Coach Jim Butler said. "He truly epitomizes all that Arthur Ashe stood for and for the qualities and values that this award recognizes." 

Gikandi and Sandoval represent the Connecticut College men's soccer team that posted eight wins en route to its third consecutive appearance in the NESCAC Championship Tournament. Gikandi provided a key assist in a home NESCAC victory against Trinity while Sandoval earned more playing time in the defensive backfield for Head Coach Kenny Murphy's Camels.

"I am extremely proud of Ajami and Danny to be recognized," Coach Murphy said. "They are intelligent, conscientious student athletes who embody the mission of Connecticut College and the standards of this prestigious award." 

Goldstein has been a leader and captain for the highly successful women's rowing team. This May, Goldstein helped lead Camels to a bronze medal at the New England Rowing Championship as the coxswain in the varsity four championship regatta.  She received her degree in government.

"Val is the model recipient of this award," Connecticut College Head Women's Rowing Coach Eva Kovach said. "She was a valued team leader and exceptional student during her tenure at the College.  Over the course of the past four year she was a very big part of our success as a team.  Val's competitive spirit is unrivaled and she always directed her energy towards achieving the best possible outcome for her crew.  It was an honor to work with Val in our relationship as coach and athlete."  

Patel, a junior forward on the Camel men's hockey team, is being honored as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar for the second consecutive year. On the ice, Patel enjoyed his most productive season, accounting for four goals and four assists in 17 games, with all of his points coming in NESCAC play.

"Adam has continued his growth as a player and representative of the Men's Ice Hockey Program," Connecticut College Head Men's Hockey Jim Ward said. "After missing eight of the first twelve games of the season with a knee injury, Adam was a key contributor in the final 13 games of the season when we made our push to the post-season by posting a 7-5-1 record. In addition to the offensive production he provided, Adam became a mainstay on both the power play and penalty killing units in the stretch run of the season. Adam has evolved into a strong two-way player whom we were able to match up against the most dangerous opposing players. Adam continues to take full advantage of all of the resources made available to student-athletes here at Connecticut College. He is highly thought of by his teammates and the coaching staff alike. He is a Team ImPact Captain and has been heavily involved in Green Dot and the Safe project. This summer Adam had a choice of a number of summer internships due to his strong GPA, recommendations and engagement with the CELS Office."

Torres, a senior midfielder on the Camel women's soccer team capped off  her senior season by earning All-NESCAC honors for the second time in her productive playing career.

Torres worked tirelessly to return from a serious knee injury and have a significant on field impact this fall. She scored three goals in seven games of action. In just her second game back against Bates College, Torres scored a goal to lead her team to a NESCAC victory.

"I was honored to hear that Aina was selected as an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar," Connecticut College Head Women's Soccer Coach Norm Riker said.  "It is fitting that Aina receive the Ashe award, having played for Barcelona FC, whose club philosophy promoted cultural and ethnic diversity way ahead of the times and currently supports foundations such as UNICEF.  Aina has also forged her own humanitarian path and has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics during her time at Connecticut College.  Aina, upon graduation and receiving her Biology degree, recently accepted a position in the Grassroot Soccer organization, which helps promote HIV education and awareness in Africa and across the globe.  Aina, a two-time All NESCAC selection and an impact soccer player for the Camels, will combine her love for the game and her humanitarian interest and continue in the spirit of Arthur Ashe and do her part to make the world a better place."

For more information on the Arhur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars program, visit the Diverse Issues in Higher Education website here.