Vassar Today

Swimmer, Actress, Mentor, Student...

By Robin Deutsch and Mike Murray, sports information

In just two years as a member of Vassar’s women’s swimming team, Emily Love ’09 (pictured) has had a career that would take most of her competitors a lifetime to achieve. Love had a dream season in 2006–07, one that culminated in two top-eight finishes at the Division III NCAA National Championships in Houston, Texas. Her performances enabled the 19-year-old South Windsor, Connecticut, native to become the first All-American swimmer in Vassar’s history.

Against the nation’s top swimmers, Love placed sixth overall in the finals of both the women’s 200- and 100-yard backstroke, earning her All-American honors in both events. Love, who had narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships in her freshman season, made significant time improvements in her two marquee events. Not only did she reset her own Vassar records, she also created a new New York State Women’s Collegiate Athletic Association mark in the 200 backstroke, swimming an impressive 2:03.32 in the NCAA morning preliminaries, resetting the Liberty League record by over two seconds and qualifying Love for the USA Short Course National Championships. Love is the first ever Vassar swimmer to qualify for a USA National Championship meet.

In addition to her academic and athletic accomplishments, Love has been an avid acress on campus. “It’s so much fun to be involved in many different aspects of campus life,” Love said. “I feel like I can really make time for everything that I want to do.” Working as a student fellow in her dorm, Love spends time throughout the year mentoring freshmen adjusting to college life, and this year she will be a house intern. The psychology major has even found time to tutor local elementary students in reading and writing.

“Once you’re on campus you’re not labeled as just an athlete, student mentor, actress, or artist, Love explained. “You have the flexibility to engage yourself in a myriad of extracurricular activities and that has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life at Vassar. Being a part of the swimming team has taught me a tremendous amount about working well with my peers, setting goals, and dedicating my excitement and energy to having fun while still competing at a high level of competition.”

“Qualifying for the NCAAs is a testa-ment to Emily’s tremendous swimming ability and tenacity,” said Head Coach Lisl Prater-Lee. “Having come so close to qualifying in 2006, but not being invited to the meet, was a disappointment. Emily bounced back from that extremely well and utilized that this season to catapult her well beyond her previous personal best.”

Love credits her teammates and coaches for helping her believe that she could accomplish her goals this season. “All of the coaches and people on our team kept telling me that I was going to make it this year,” Love said. “Throughout the season, I felt like when I was having trouble dropping my times they made me feel like I could still swim faster by helping me believe in myself and my goals.”

Annual Athlete Awards

At the annual Department of Athletics and Physical Education banquet, awards were presented to the Male and Female Athletes of the Year, along with the Frances D. Fergusson Coaches Award, the Betty Richey Award, the Athletic and Fitness Alumnae/i Award, and the Sport Club Athlete of the Year Award. Seventy-nine senior athletes were presented with an athletic recognition award.

Senior Athlete Awards at Vassar College
Senior Athlete Awards at Vassar College
Seniors Court Steiner (left) and Debbie Sharnak (right) were named the Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Debbie Sharnak ’07 was the recipient of the Female Athlete of the Year Award for a phenomenal All-American career on the tennis courts. Court Steiner ’07 earned the Male Athlete of the Year award through skill and leadership on the soccer field. The Frances D. Fergusson Coaches Award was presented to a pair of senior lacrosse players, Ali Fantl and Vito Cataldo, both four-year members of their teams. The Athletic and Fitness Alumnae/i of Vassar College recognized men’s soccer captain Adam Marsh ’07.

The Betty Richey Award, named in honor of the longtime Vassar coach and administrator Betty Richey, was presented to sophomore Ashley Rey, a member of the lacrosse and field hockey teams. The Club Sport Athlete of the Year Award was presented to Ultimate Frisbee team member Dan Yonkin ’07, who was instrumental in the organization of the team.