"Knowing when to lead and when to join the team is a skill that everyone needs to learn."
"Sports have given me the ability to form bonds, perhaps the greatest thing that athletics have given me."
"Being an honorable athlete does not always include winning…it is the broader sense of team and family that has been most inspirational to me."
Such was the wisdom shared by Melissa Riggs '98, a decorated Polo and Lacrosse player at Garrison Forest and GFS scholar-athlete, at the May 12 Centennial Athletic Banquet. As guest speaker, Ms. Riggs spoke to the dozens of Garrison Forest athletes, their coaches, and parents attending the annual banquet, offering her experiences at the School and at Cornell and the lessons she learned.
She certainly has seen her share of athletic victories. She was Captain of the 1998 GFS Lacrosse team, Captain of the 1998 Interscholastic Polo Championship team (the first women's team ever to win the title), 2002 National Intercollegiate Polo Player of the Year, Captain of Cornell's Women's Polo team, and a four-time Polo All-American. Fittingly, several members of her class were in attendance to show support.
"Melissa is an outstanding role model of a GFS young woman who achieved excellence in athletics at the national level," noted Peter O'Neill, Head of School. "Following her graduation from Cornell, she easily could have joined the ranks of the international polo world. Instead, she chose to commit herself to service by joining the Peace Corps and working in a rural village in Jordan." After returning to the U.S., Ms. Riggs received a Masters in Public Health from George Washington University. Today she serves as an administrator with Nest, a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world.
The Centennial Athletic Banquet included the premier of a DVD chronicling that history of sport at Garrison Forest. Written and produced by GFS Archivist Dante Beretta, the DVD delighted the crowd. Each guest also received a commemorative t-shirt, emblazoned with the familiar last lines of the alma mater "For School and for Comrades and for Victory!"
Athletic Director Traci Davis served as emcee for the highly anticipated awards portion of the evening.*
The Eleanor Brooks Award given to Cailie Murphy '10 and Melanie O'Boyle '10.
• Initiated in 2000 by the coaching staff in memory of Eleanor Brooks, GFS ’95, this award honors a young woman whose participation in the GFS athletic program was marked by both personal and individual triumphs and challenges. The qualities Eleanor embodied include a genuine desire to participate in a sport for the joy of the game; a willingness to help her team reach success; a recognition of the value of athletic participation for everyone, at any level; an eagerness to build one’s skills and a diligence in pursuit of that goal; leadership, personal integrity and courage in the face of adversity.
The Emblem Award given to Liza Blue '10 (for Field Hockey and Lacrosse), Emily Cain '10 (for Field Hockey), Dani DiPietro '10 (for Riding), and Susie Feinstein '10 (for Cross Country).
• This award was formerly known as the GFS Special Sports Award when Elizabeth Brown was the Athletic Director during the 1940s through the late 1970s. In establishing the award, Miss Brown noted that the recipient “must display outstanding skills and play, not only in games but day in and out over the years she is at school. Her sportsmanship, responsibility, cooperation and helpfulness to team, squad and coaches should be evident, and last, but not least, her display of team spirit, her will to win and her ability to accept defeat gracefully fulfill the requirements for this emblem.” This award is given only when there is a student who merits recognition for her outstanding contribution in a particular sport.
The Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. Award given to Stephanie Mueller '10.
• Since 2003, Garrison Forest has awarded the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. "Athletic Service" Award. Participating schools include MIAA, Baltimore City and IAAM schools. This award is presented to a student who has best demonstrated outstanding characteristics in rendering service to his/her school's athletic and/or physical education program. The recipient of the award is selected by the athletic and physical education departments of his/her school. The manner of selection is determined by each school.
The Coaches Sportsmanship Award given to Ana Henrich '10.
• Initiated in 1996 by the GFS coaching staff, this award recognizes that individual who has demonstrated the highest standard of spirit and sportsmanship in her athletic career. The individual may have participated on any level of team; characteristics displayed for this award include genuine enthusiasm and support for school teams, dedication, and positive behavior reflecting the valued qualities of honesty, respect and kindness in all aspects of her athletic participation.
*The Polo department will award its annual honors at an upcoming team dinner.