University of Scranton honors senior student-athletes at annual luncheon

The 2016 senior student-athlete award winners, from left: Erin Casey, women's soccer (Carlesimo Award); Brendan Boken, men's basketball (O'Hara Award); Ryan Brown, men's golf (Carlesimo Award); Bridget Gallaher, women's lacrosse (Fitzpatrick Award); and Emily Walsh, women's tennis (O'Hara Award).
The 2016 senior student-athlete award winners, from left: Erin Casey, women's soccer (Carlesimo Award); Brendan Boken, men's basketball (O'Hara Award); Ryan Brown, men's golf (Carlesimo Award); Bridget Gallaher, women's lacrosse (Fitzpatrick Award); and Emily Walsh, women's tennis (O'Hara Award).

Seventy-four senior student-athletes were honored on Saturday at The University of Scranton's 25th annual Senior Student-Athlete luncheon, held in the McIlhenny Ballroom in the DeNaples Center. 

The event featured the presentation of a plaque to each senior student-athlete as well as the presentation of Merit Awards to each student-athlete with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. The luncheon also featured the presentation of the Beining Award, and culminated with five special awards presented to student-athletes.

The Beining Award, which is presented annually to an individual for special contributions to the athletics department, was given to long-time volunteer men's and women's assistant basketball coach Canio Cianci. A 1968 graduate of the University and a former baseball player for the Royals, Cianci has been an assistant basketball coach at the University for 20 years, serving under legendary men's coach Bob Bessoir and record-setting women's coach Mike Strong, as well as working for current men's coach Carl Danzig, former women's coach Deanna Klingman and current women's coach Trevor Woodruff. 

In his 20 seasons on the sidelines, Cianci has been a part of 427 victories, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, nine conference championships, three Sweet 16 appearances, an Elite Eight appearance and one trip to the Final Four.

The luncheon was highlighted by the presentation of the Father Fitzpatrick, Peter A. Carlesimo and Frank O'Hara Awards. 

Father Fitzpatrick Award – Bridget Gallaher, women's lacrosse

Named in honor of the late Reverend John J. Fitzpatrick, S.J., long-time friend and counselor of Royal student-athletes, this award is given to a student-athlete who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and given extraordinary service and contributions to The University of Scranton community and society in general.

As soon as she arrived on campus in the fall of 2012, Gallaher participated in Freshman Involved in Reflective Service Together, performing service in the Scranton Community. Since 2012, she has been a volunteer at the Leahy Health Clinic on campus, working directly with patients who do not have health care coverage. In January 2013, she was part of a domestic service trip to Bayboro, N.C., where she assisted those affected by Hurricane Irene. 

She has also been a volunteer at the End of Year Drive each of the past three years, staying on campus at the end of the semester to collect donations and organize and distribute them to the Scranton community. And she has also volunteered at Freshman Fall Move-In and with Scranton Street Sweep.

In 2014, Gallaher was a group leader for the University's student-led SEARCH retreat and participated in the Scranton Emerging Leaders Program. 

That same year, Gallaher became a Royal CHOICES champion, serving as a leader in the University's Royal CHOICES program, serving as a leader in a group of student-athletes who promote healthy lifestyles and drug and alcohol awareness. As part of her duties, Gallaher attended the Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education in Orlando in January of 2015. And, in just a few weeks, she will travel to Nicaragua with the University's International Service Program.

Even with all of her work outside of academics and athletics, Gallaher has found time to serve as vice president of the Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Honor Society. She's also a member of the Biology Club, the Pre-Physician's Assistant Club and Move For Those Who Can't, an ALS awareness group. 

On the field, Gallaher is a two-year starter on the women's lacrosse team, and served as a team captain this spring while earning second-team All-Landmark Conference honors.

Peter A. Carlesimo Awards – Erin Casey, women's soccer, and Ryan Brown, men's golf

The award, which is named in honor of the late Pete Carlesimo, former director of athletics, and head football, basketball and cross country coach at the University, is given annually to a male and female student-athlete who has excelled both athletically and academically. Carlesimo, along with his entire family, represent the ideals of a Jesuit education. We are proud to name these awards in his honor. 

A native of Newark, N.J., Carlesimo was a prominent figure in intercollegiate athletics. He was a teammate of legendary NFL head coach Vince Lombardi on the football team at Fordham University, to which he eventually returned and served as director of athletics after his distinguished career here at the University.

He was widely recognized for his work in reestablishing the National Invitational Tournament as one of the nation's premier basketball tournaments and was the driving force to start the preseason NIT, which is still regarded by basketball coaches as one of the top preseason tournaments in the country. 

Casey holds the distinction of having the highest grade-point average of all female student-athletes in the senior class, a 3.93 on a 4.0 scale while pursuing a degree in accounting. Along the way, she has been named to the Dean's List in every semester, including two semesters with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. She is also a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma National Business Honor Society, in 2013 she completed the Scranton Emerging Leaders Program, and is a member of the University's prestigious Business Leadership Program. And, she also spent a semester studying in Italy in 2014.

Casey's commitment to hard work is apparent in her athletic career, as well. Despite suffering back and knee injuries during her career that kept her out of the lineup at times and forced her to sit out the entire season this past fall, she established herself as one of the top women's soccer players in the Landmark Conference by her sophomore season, earning the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award that season. Casey is also a two-time first-team all-conference selection in 2013 and 2014, and also earned second-team in her freshman season. 

She was a third-team all-region selection 2013, and helped the Royals win the conference championship in 2012 and reach the NCAA Tournament in both 2012 and 2013. Despite playing her entire career as a center back on defense, Casey has six career goals, four of which were game-winners.

Brown will graduate with a degree in biology with minors in both English and biochemistry. He currently has a 3.78 grade-point average and has made the University's Dean's List in every semester. He is also a member of the Sigma Tau Delta National Honor Society of English and the Beta Beta Beta National Honor Society of Biology. And he received a President's Fellowship Research Award in 2015 for a study titled "Determining the Effect of Time Since Capture on the Plasma Metabolite Concentrations in Migratory Landbird." 

On the golf course, Brown has earned All-Empire 8 Conference second-team honors twice, and was named the conference's Athlete of the Week on Sept. 8 of this past fall.

In 34 career rounds, he posted an average of exactly 78, and he shot below 80 in 23 of those rounds. Twice he shot even-par rounds of 71, the best efforts of his career. He also served as a team captain this past season and was part of a Royals team that finished second in the Empire 8 Conference in both 2013 and 2014.

Frank O'Hara Awards – Emily Walsh, women's tennis, and Brendan Boken, men's basketball

The O'Hara Awards are given to the top male and female student-athletes in the senior class. They are named after Frank O'Hara, a 1925 graduate who diligently served the needs of students, faculty and staff for more than 52 years in his roles as registrar, director of alumni relations and acting president until his passing in 1977.

Affectionately known as Mr. University of Scranton, O'Hara has a building named after him on campus and the office of alumni relations' most distinguished awards are also named in his honor. The athletics department has been granting the O'Hara Award to its top male athlete of the senior class since 1970 and to its top female athlete since 1979. 

Walsh etched her name in the Scranton record books as one of the best women's tennis players in school history. She is the school's all-time leader in singles victories with 49, all while playing at or near the top of the Royals' lineup.

Her 14 singles victories this season – all while playing at the top spot in the lineup – were one shy of matching the school's single-season record.

Walsh is also second in school history with 44 career doubles victories, and her 13 this season are tied for third-most in a single season in Royals history. She is a three-time first-team all-Landmark Conference selection in singles, and twice was named first-team in doubles. And she was the conference's Rookie of the Year as a freshman. 

Walsh also helped the Royals win conference titles in 2013 and 2014, earning championship MVP honors in 2014. She is also a three-time Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll recipient, and has been the conference's athlete of the week for women's tennis four times and the University's Athlete of the Week three times.

Boken is the men's basketball program's all-time leading scorer with 1,911 career points, and ranks second in field goal percentage and games started, third in field goals made, fourth in free throw attempts, fifth in free throws made, sixth in blocks, eighth in rebounding and tied for 10th in games played in Royals history. 

He is also one of only two players in Scranton history with at least 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 200 assists in a career.

This past season, Boken was named first-team All-American by and third team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He was also named Middle Atlantic Region Player of the Year by D3hoops and Landmark Conference Player of the Year. He is a two-time first-team all-Middle Atlantic Region selection by D3hoops, and was a first-team all-Middle Atlantic Region honoree by the NABC this season and a second-team choice last season. And, he was first-team All-Landmark Conference in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

In his four seasons, Boken helped the Royals win Landmark Conference championships in 2014 and 2015 by earning championship MVP honors both times. Scranton won 85 games during his career and reached the NCAA Tournament three times.