June 6, 2011
Center Valley, Pa. - The Patriot League has selected one male and one female as its Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2010-2011 academic year as United States Naval Academy swimmer Ryan Ward and Lehigh University lacrosse standout Lauren Dykstra were chosen in a vote by the League's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The Patriot League Sportsmanship Awards are in their sixth year after being created to honor student-athletes that uphold the principles on which the League was founded - fairness, equality and excellence in academics and athletics. The awards are open to all Patriot League student-athletes and each of the eight Patriot League institutions is eligible to nominate a male and female for the award.
Ward helped Navy win the Patriot League Championship in each of his four seasons at the Academy, but his Sportsmanship honor comes from an act early in the 2010-11 campaign. Navy went to the University of Virginia for a dual meet on Oct. 29, which was the first competition for the Cavaliers since graduate and 11-time All-American swimmer Fran Crippen died during an open water race in the Middle East. Navy wanted to do something to honor Crippen and all that he represented for the swimming community, and Ward came up with the idea to present the Virginia team with a Brigade of Midshipmen flag and plaque from the Naval Academy in commemoration of Crippen's death. Ward also wrote a speech that he gave to the entire facility during a break in the meet. The actions brought about messages of thanks from spectators, Virginia Head Coach Mark Bernadino and United States Naval Academy Superintendent Michael H. Miller.
Ward recently graduated from the Naval Academy after majoring in international relations. He appeared on the Commandant's List three times and received a prestigious internship to NATO. He was service assigned explosive ordnance disposal.
Ward becomes the first Midshipman and first swimmer to win the Patriot League Male Sportsmanship Award.
Dykstra will go down as one of the most accomplished players in Patriot League women's lacrosse history. She won her fourth different major award in the spring, adding the newly establisher Midfield Player of the Year honor to her previous Offensive, Defensive and Rookie of the Year awards. She closed her career as the Patriot League's all-time leader in goals scored with 257, standing alone in sixth place in NCAA annals. She also finishes with 302 points, only the second Patriot League player to have reached the 300-point plateau and just six short of the League record. Dykstra was a candidate for the Tewaaraton Award given to the top player in women's lacrosse.
Through all of her accomplishments, Dykstra always earned the respect of teammates, competitors and officials for her composure and demeanor on the field. She never retaliated fouls and understood that character is a large part of what it means to be a good leader. Dykstra showed her sportsmanlike-behavior in a highly-competitive game against Virginia Tech on April 9. In a Senior Day contest where she broke the school and Patriot League career goals record and moved into the NCAA top 10, Dykstra appeared to score the go-ahead goal with 2:04 remaining. The goal was then disallowed on a failed stick check, yet Dykstra did not complain with the officials' decision on the key play. Lehigh went on to lose the contest, 6-5, when Virginia Tech scored in the final seconds, yet Dykstra still led her teammates in congratulating their opponents and held a video interview afterwards to speak about her record-breaking goal.
Dykstra becomes the second Lehigh student-athlete to claim the Female Sportsmanship Award, and the first in the sport of women's lacrosse.
Ward and Dykstra will now be forwarded on to the NCAA to be considered for the national sportsmanship honor.