PHILADELPHIA - As the team that turned in the largest single-season turnaround in program history, the 2010-11 University of Pennsylvania women's basketball team gathered one final time at the team's annual banquet Sunday afternoon in Weightman Hall. The yearly team awards were handed out as the Quakers were joined by their families, fellow alumni and the coaching staff.
Senior Erin Power won multiple awards on the night, claiming the Epton-Tarr Award for her efforts as the consummate team player throughout the 2010-11 campaign, and the team's Defensive Player of the Year award. Power finished second in the Ivy League in steals and minutes played. She was fourth in the Ivies in rebounding and eighth in the league in assists. The Elmwood Park, Ill., native, who started all but one game last season, was also second on the team in blocks.
Senior Caroline Nicholson was honored with the prestigious Harshberger-Johnson-Brendel (HJB) Prize for Sportsmanship, Loyalty and Leadership. The HJB, created by Penn alumna and former player Cynthia Warner Johnson Crowley CW’52, honors the strong tradition of more than 80 years of women’s varsity basketball at Penn. An Academic All-Ivy honoree, Nicholson started every game last year and, on Senior Night, notched her first career double-double.
Freshman Alyssa Baron was awarded the team's Impact Player of the Year honor. Baron became the first freshman in modern Ivy League history to win the scoring title. She was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year as well as honorable mention All-Ivy and was a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy Rookie team.
Junior captain Jess Knapp was given the Team Leader award. Knapp started every game in 2010-11, except for Senior Night, when she relinquished her starting spot. She finished fourth in the Ivy League in blocks and sixth in rebounding. Her 40 blocks were the fifth-most in a single-season in school history. The Carlstadt, N.J., native was also second on the team in points, made threes, made free throws and rebounds.
Sophomore Katie Davis was recognized with the team's Most Dedicated award. Davis came off the bench to play in 17 games last year, including a string of eight straight Ivy games during Penn's midseason run toward the largest turnaround in program history.
Both freshman Meghan McCullough and sophomore Brianna Bradford earned the team's Miss Intangible honor. McCullough started all 28 games in her rookie campaign and finished second on the team and fifth in the Ivy League in steals, while Bradford came off the bench to play in every game and finished third on the team in scoring.
Seniors Caroline Nicholson, Erin Power and Jerin Smith each received a commemorative jersey and gave a speech to conclude the banquet. All three also wrote a senior tribute that was featured in the banquet program and are shown below:
#5 Caroline Nicholson
I can’t believe my four years here at Penn are almost done. I have to say though, that my best experience by far, has been being an athlete here at Penn. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without everyone who has supported me. First off, I’d like to thank my parents for being there for me over the past 22 years and especially the last four. I wouldn’t be at Penn today if it wasn’t for you and I love you both more than I can put into words. Also, thanks to John for making it out to a couple games, love you bro. To my coaches, I appreciate all that you’ve done for me over the past two years, you’ve made my experience on the basketball team what I hoped it would be coming into college. And to the players – I know it’s been a tough road, but I believe in you guys. I know that you’re going to get that Ivy crown soon and are going to bring a ring home to Penn in the next couple years! Thank you to each and every one of you for the jokes, laughs, and support. I couldn’t have made it through without you guys, I love you and look forward to watching you guys from the sidelines next year!
#21 Erin Power
Few can appreciate the physical and temporal sacrifices made to be a collegiate athlete at an Ivy League university. Yet even fewer can appreciate the endorphins released after pushing oneself to the limit, the emotions of winning a hard-fought game, and the inseparable bond that links a team. These feelings and these moments are what make being a collegiate athlete worthwhile, and for me, they are the reasons that my experience as a Penn women’s basketball player will be one that I will never forget. First and foremost, I would like to thank my family. Without the sacrifices of my parents, the support of my family, and the guidance of my Aunt Geeg and Uncle John from above, I would not be standing here today. I’d also like to thank the coaches; you have wholeheartedly restored my love for the sport of basketball, and I cannot wait to see the strides that you will continue to make with this program. Lastly, thank you to my teammates. It is thanks to your work ethic, character, and unceasing friendships that I have grown tremendously as an athlete and a person. To my fellow seniors, Caroline and Jerin, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. I know you will both be so successful in whichever path you choose. To everyone who still has time remaining, I encourage you to soak it all in because before you know it your time will be up. When that day comes, I hope you can repeat my final words with the sincerity in which I write them: Penn women’s basketball has changed my life, and for that, I am forever grateful.
#32 Jerin Smith
Playing Penn Basketball has, hands down, been one of the best experiences in my life. No matter how hard it may have seemed at times, there is absolutely nothing that could replace, or that I would want to replace, my past four years here. The ladies on the team are absolutely amazing and I’m not even sure that there are a better group of girls anywhere on the planet! Thank you guys for sticking in there with me when there was nothing binding us to stay. To my coaches, thank you for making my past two years very much enjoyable; it was always a joy to be around each and every one of you. You’ve taught me so much in such a short period of time that has certainly surpassed anything the University, alone, could ever do. To my parents, your support is immeasurable. There’s not enough words in all the books to express how much I love and thank you. To my brother, thanks for being the epitome of hard work and sacrifice. Antonio, I appreciate your ability to make me laugh no matter the mood I’m in. To my number one fan, Vickie, love you giiiirl! Thanks for making ALL of my home games; it meant wayyy more than you can imagine. And to Jordan, thanks for trucking over after long days at work! But most importantly, I want to thank God for this most wonderful opportunity—without you there is no me. And with that said, love you all!
A complete list of the awards handed out Sunday afternoon:
2011 Team Awards:
Harshberger-Johnson-Brendel Prize for Sportsmanship, Loyalty and Leadership in Basketball - Caroline Nicholson
Epton-Tarr Award - Erin Power
Impact Player of the Year - Alyssa Baron
Defensive Player of the Year - Erin Power
Team Leader - Jess Knapp
Most Dedicated Player of the Year - Katie Davis
Miss Intangible - Meghan McCullough and Brianna Bradford