On a balmy day that felt like more a celebration of spring than winter, the WRA community gathered in the Chapel for the Winter Athletic Award ceremony, a farewell to a thrilling season and, hopefully, the wintry Ohio weather. The ceremony was punctuated by the award of two Gold Medals, the highest honor in athletics at Reserve: Senior student-athletes Jada Kenner ’24 and Damarius Owens ’24 had the audience in standing ovations to applaud their truly amazing accomplishments and leadership.

Director of Athletics Pete Hutchins opened the ceremony telling the students, “You have a lot on your plates, and we’re all proud of you for the grace and grit you exhibit each day.” He applauded individuals' ability to balance their own goals with the goals of their teams. Hutchins thanked everyone behind the scenes (the trainers, equipment managers, timers, maintenance crew, line judges and beyond!) who propel the WRA athletic program forward on a daily basis.

First, Riflery Head Coach Diccon Ong presented awards, applauding a stellar season and committed cadre. “Not only do we have a team, we have a pretty good team,” Ong said. “We held our own against some of the best teams in the country.” Kathryn McCaffrey ’24 was awarded the MVP prize.

Boys Basketball Head Coach Matt Garvey spoke next, directly on the heels of a huge week for the Boys Basketball program at Reserve, who won the National Championship in the National Prep tournament. Standout athletes from a standout team were celebrated, as much for their character off the court as on. MVP Royce Parham ’24 scored more than 650 points this season.

Girls Basketball Head Coach Thomas Adams-Wall summarized more stellar work from his squad, who – like the boys team – found success at the National Prep Championship, in the first year women’s teams participated in the tournament. MVP Brooklyn Hall ’26 led the team in scoring this year and put up double digit points in every game she played. 

Fencing Head Coach Neil Mittal thanked the whole community for support, allowing the fencing team to compete regionally and nationally as the program grows. There is no fencing league for high schools in Ohio, so WRA competes against adults, club teams and collegiate athletes. Even with this, our fencing saber team is the best in Northeast Ohio, headed by MVP Ethan Tan ’24.

Indoor Track & Field Head Coach Dr. Erik Chaput, three years into his coaching tenure, described the unflinching dedication of athletes like student body co-president Carter Fleming ’24, who ran a successful indoor season all while training for a marathon, completing his first in Arizona earlier this winter. 

Boys and Girls Swimming Head Coach Michael Bonomo praised the passion of his close-knit teams, describing how spirit propels a program. MVP Celine Omega ’24 was praised for her fierceness in the water over a four-year career here. Her ability to focus her team through quiet and powerful leadership was her hallmark. Ryan de Arcangelis ’24 was not the highest point earner among the swimmers, but was chosen as MVP for demonstrating support, kindness and respect, and for competing with heart. 

McKenzie Darlington, Diving Head Coach, aptly lauded her athletes for “jumping right into the challenges of diving.” Mira Zamarro ’24 and Tucker Marshall ’25 wowed with multiple first-place finishes, learning new dives, making corrections and exhibiting sportsmanship. 

Wrestling Head Coach Ian Miller, in his first year, expressed great pride in his team, gratitude for their embrace of his coaching, and their tenacity in this tough-as-nails sport. He awarded two MVP awards to wrestlers who also happen to be roommates, Calvin Werden ’24 and T.J. Langley ’24. Both were named Prep National All Americans this year, as before.

Finally it was time for the Gold Medals awards. These most prestigious honors, signifying an accomplishment even higher than MVP and a tribute to character and leadership, were awarded in two sports. Both winners hail from western New York, have excelled in the classroom, are captains, and have worked to build their skills since they were very young.

Coach Chaput spoke first about Kenner, who he called a great athlete who always rises to the occasion, and a phenomenal sprinter in individual and relay events. Kenner will continue her career when she attends Emory in the fall.

The second Gold Medal was awarded by Coach Garvey to Owens. Garvey spoke movingly about Owens’ growth at WRA, about his character, and of his large family’s (Damarius is the youngest of nine siblings) faith in the school. The 6’7” guard scored over 1,400 points in his time at WRA. “We were a lot better when Damarius was on the floor,” Garvey said. He called coaching Owens the highlight of his year, even in a year that included so many peaks. Owens will attend and play basketball at Marquette in the fall.

Congratulations to our Gold Medal Winners and to all our incredible student-athletes. Thanks to our dedicated coaches, who Hutchins said love guiding our Pios on the practice field, in games and in life. We’re so proud of the students and can’t wait for the spring season.

Click here for the full list of winter athletic award winners and Varsity letter recipients.