BRONX, N.Y. -- Nine Fordham University men's water polo players were honored at the Eighth Annual Breakfast for Champions in the McGinley Center on February 6th for compiling a 3.0 cumulative Grade Point Average or higher.
The event was sponsored by the Fordham University Department of Athletics with assistance from the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and the Office of Academic Advising.
Honored among the 310 Fordham student-athletes recognized for their academic and athletic prowess were Ali Arat (), Cashel Barnett (), Mark Connor (), Martin de Jong (), Mikey Edwards (), Robert Fleming (), Christian Flessner (), William Leach () and Eric Mullery (). The acknowledgement marked the fourth nod for Connor and de Jong, who was also recognized for holding the highest GPA on the men's water polo team.
The 319 in attendance represented over 57% of the student-athletes at Fordham and is the largest number of student-athletes to attend a Breakfast for Champions.
Jarrett Anistranski, FCRH '11, President of SAAC and a member of the Cross Country/Track and Field programs, welcomed the crowd and introduced Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, Vice President of University Mission and Ministry for the invocation.
Following breakfast, Frank McLaughlin, Executive Director of Athletics, provided opening remarks, noting how the breakfast was being held on the day the NFL was going to award the Lombardi Trophy to the Super Bowl championships team, an award named for one of Fordham's most famous alums. He also noted that if the Breakfast for Champions existed when Lombardi was a student at Fordham he would have been in attendance.
McLaughlin explained the meaning behind the "Proud to be a Ram" message that had been printed on the back of Fordham's practice t-shirts. It comes from one of the Seven Blocks of Granite, Al Bart, who visited Fordham in 2002. He told the story that when Fordham football routinely played in front of a sold out Yankee Stadium in the 1930's, the last thing then head coach Jim Sleepy Crowley would tell the troops before the left the locker room was "to remember to be proud to be a Ram!".
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, wrapped up the brunch by congratulating the student-athletes for their exploits, both on the playing fields and in the classroom. He stressed that the students should thank their parents for all the love and support they have provided as well as their coaches, who play a large role in their success. McShane had the coaches stand to be acknowledged and thanked them for "remembering always that at Fordham a coach is an educator, first, last and always. A coach at Fordham is someone who believes in students, loves them to greatness, reminds them that athletics is a large part of life, but it's really much more, it's a part of preparation of life of service of others."