2023 Michael Coven Awards Banquet
On May 4, many Brandeis athletes were honored with various awards at the Michael Coven Awards Banquet.
As the 2022-23 school year comes to a close, the Brandeis student athletes were honored at the annual Michael Coven Awards Banquet on May 4.
The ceremony was opened by Director of Athletics Lauren Haynie, followed by touching speeches by Morgan Clark ’23 of women’s soccer and Asher Kaplan ’23 of baseball.
The first award was the Athletic Director’s Award, presented to five Judges that demonstrated excellence in representing the department in and out of the sport.
The first winner of this award was Rani Balakrishna ’25 of softball. On the field, she was a leader. Though much of it was from the dugout, Rani’s leadership proved vital in the team’s success this season. Off the field, she made an even bigger impact. A writer for the Justice, she wrote an op ed arguing for gender equality and raising awareness in the Brandeis community.
The second winner was Benton Ferebee ’23 of the men’s swimming and diving team. A fifth-year, Benton was certainly successful in the water, breaking multiple school records and captaining the team for two years. He has also played a significant role in athletics, supporting the strength and conditioning program, working as a lifeguard, and being a vocal advocate for mental health in athletics.
The third winner was Gabe Haithcock ’25 of men’s soccer. He has been a true leader on and off the field, as the founder and president of Student Athletes of Color and vice president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Gabe has provided incredible support in tackling the biggest issues facing Brandeis athletics and beyond.
The fourth award went to Franchesca Marchese ’23 of women’s basketball. Among the top three-point scorers in program history, she will look to break the record in her graduate year next winter. Off the court, Marchese earned all-district honors for her academic success. She also served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee; interned for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; writes for The Hoot, and serves on the Student Union board.
The fifth and final Athletic Director’s Award went to Emma Reavis ’23, also of women’s basketball. Emma has been one of the school’s best ever playmakers, a star player since her first year. She led the Citi-Brandeis mentorship program, was a part of the Student Athlete Leadership Committee, and worked many jobs in the athletic department.
Arianna Jackson ’25 was presented with the Morrie Stein '58 Award of Valor for demonstrating courage both on and off the playing field. Despite suffering an injury in her first year, Arianna made a resilient push through, making it back this season. She was one of the team’s best players, featuring in every match but one, and was a significant leader off the court in many different organizations.
The Martin Zelnik ’61 Award was presented to Dion Morris Evans ’23 of men’s track and field, for a non-recruited athlete that made a significant contribution to a varsity team. Morris-Evans walked onto the team his first-year, and has been a committed member of the team as well as one of their top performers.
Another track and field award went to Victoria Morrongiello ’23, the captain of both the women’s cross country and track and field teams. She was awarded with the Morris Sepinuck Award for an athlete with outstanding sportsmanship who also contributed to the athletic program and campus life. She led cross country to third place in regionals, narrowly missing out on the NCAA championships for indoor track and cross country. She also carried an outstanding GPA, was an editor-in-chief of The Hoot, and worked in many other organizations at Brandeis.
The Charlie Napoli ’58 Scholar-Athlete Award was awarded to student athletes on the men’s and women’s side that have excelled in the classroom and in athletics.
The men’s winner was Ryan Power ’24 of men’s basketball. Ryan was a force on the court, and one of the team’s most important players. Off the court, he has a 3.83 GPA and is an academic all-district honoree.
The women’s winner was Bailey Gold ’23 of women’s swimming and diving. She has earned team MVP in all four years in the pool, reaching UAA championship finals every season and setting many school records along the way. Out of the pool, Bailey has carried an incredible 3.97 GPA as a double major in psychology and neuroscience, serving on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, working for Advocates for Health and Waltham Against Dementia, and serving as a teaching assistant in the physiology lab.
Lev BenAvram ’26 and Ragini Kannan ’26 were honored with the newest award: Rookies of the Year. BenAvram won a gold medal at his first-ever collegiate tournament, leading the men’s team with 39 wins in dual matches and pioneering a dominant sabre squad. He also competed in the National Championships in Duke, as well as with the United States Fencing Junior World Championship team in Bulgaria.
Kannan was one of the best pitchers in the UAA this season, recording a 2.02 ERA with 132 strikeouts. She was one of three softball first-years to receive All-UAA first team honors. Brandeis Softball had a very successful season, finishing 25-13 and narrowly missing out on a bid to the NCAA tournament. The future looks very bright for the softball team with Kannan on the mound.
Maggie Shealy ’23 and Sam Dienstag ’24 were honored with one of the biggest awards of the night: the Max I. Silber Award and the Harry, Joseph and Ida Stein Award. These awards are given to the best athletic performers of the year.
Shealy, who was named the Division III sabre fencer of the year last year, completed another extraordinary season, highlighted by her bronze medal at the NCAA National Collegiate Fencing Championships at Duke University. She broke school records along the way and competed for Team USA in France, Greece, and South Korea.
Dienstag was absolutely unbelievable in the pool this year for the Judges, claiming All-American status. He finished 13th in the 500 and fourth in the mile. His times were so solid that Brandeis ended up as the 25th best team in NCAA due to Dienstag’s performance. Dienstag broke multiple school records this year and still has another year to keep doing it.
This banquet highlighted some of Brandeis athletics’ very best, both on and off their respective athletic arenas. Congratulations to all those who won, and thank you for representing Brandeis at the highest level.