Providence College Athletics Hosts 61st Annual All-Sports Gala

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence College Athletics Department hosted the 61st Annual All-Sports Gala on Monday, May 2. Student-athletes, staff, coaches and administrators gathered in person for the event for the first time since 2019, after two-straight years of hosting the event virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Prior to the All-Sports Gala, 76 student-athletes were inducted into the Letter Winner’s Society during a brief ceremony. Both events were held in Alumni Hall. Monday’s celebration also marked the final All-Sports Gala for Athletics Director Bob Driscoll, who is retiring on June 30 after 21 years on the job. Additionally, the 2021-22 academic year marked 50 Years of Women at Providence College and 50 Years of Women’s Athletics. 
For the second-consecutive year men’s basketball standout graduate student Nate Watson (Portsmouth, Va.), was named Male Athlete of the Year for Team Sports after helping to guide his team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and earning All-BIG EAST and NABC All-District 5 honors. Watson also was the recipient of the Rev. Robert A. Morris, O.P. ’46 Memorial Award, which is given annually to a student-athlete who has had a profound impact on Providence College during their career, as selected by the Athletic Director and the senior administrative staff.  
Graduate student Marcelo Rocha (Peabody, Mass.), who was an All-BIG EAST performer and qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships was named Male Athlete of the Year for Individual Sports. On the women’s side, sophomore forward Meg Hughes (Rochester, Mass.), was recognized as Female Athlete of the Year for Team Sports. She helped guide the women’s soccer program to its second NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1993. Hughes became the fifth player in program history to earn All-BIG EAST First-Team honors. Hughes also earned All-BIG EAST honors on the women’s indoor track team. Sophomore Laura Mooney (Cappincur, Ireland.), who was the Friars’ top finisher at the NCAA Cross Country Championship and also claimed All-BIG EAST honors in cross country and indoor track, earned Female Athlete of the Year for Individual Sports.
Graduate student Christina Rodgers (Scotch Plains, N.J.) of the women’s soccer team was the winner of the Paul Connolly Award as the female athlete who has distinguished herself among her peers through sportsmanship, courage and honor. 
Graduate student Al Durham (Lilburn, Ga.) of the men’s basketball team was the recipient of the Mal Brown Award. The Mal Brown Award is given annually to the male athlete whose career of intercollegiate competition portrayed sportsmanship, courage and honor.
The Sine Qua Non Awards, given annually to the male and female athletes who have distinguished themselves among their peers without receiving proper recognition, were presented to graduate student men’s basketball player Noah Horchler (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) and graduate student Olivia Ward (Havelock North, New Zealand) of the field hockey team. 
Senior men’s lacrosse player Rainier Lee (Alexandria, Va.) was the recipient of the Jane Thompson Award, which is presented to the male or female senior student-athlete who personifies all that is good about being a student-athlete at Providence College and exhibits selflessness, dedication, loyalty, courage and perseverance.
Watson, who served as a team captain, finished second on the squad in scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg).  He was named Second Team All-BIG EAST and also received Second Team All-NABC District 5 accolades. He recorded a .548 field-goal percentage, which ranked second in the BIG EAST. Watson started all 33 of the team’s games. He scored 20 or more points in a team-best eight games this season.  In 155 career games, Watson registered 1,756 points (11.3 ppg) and ranks 11th all-time in scoring at Providence College. Watson finished his career as the all-time leader in games played.
Rocha had a stand-out season for the Friars Cross Country program after earning an individual at-large selection to the NCAA Cross Country Championships with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regionals. Rocha is the first Friar on the men’s side to qualify on an individual basis since 2016. He claimed four top-10 finishes throughout the season, including a first-place finish at the Friar Cross Country Invitational. He earned BIG EAST Athlete of the Week Honors, twice, during the 2021 season. 

During the women’s soccer campaign this fall, Hughes became the fifth player in program history to earn All-BIG EAST First Team honors. As a sophomore, Hughes started all 20 games for the Friars and led the team in points (22) and goals (nine). She claimed a spot on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team and was a two-time BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week selection. The previous season (2020-21), Hughes became the second player in program history to earn BIG EAST Freshman of the Year and also was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team and BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Hughes has recorded 36 points during her first two seasons and is currently tied for 17th on the program’s all-time scoring list. A rare two-sport NCAA Division I student-athlete, Hughes is also a member of the women’s track team. During the 2021-22 indoor track season, Hughes earned All-BIG EAST honors in the distance medley relay and helped her team set a school record in the 4 x 400-meter relay at the BIG EAST Indoor Championship. In April, set a Providence College record for the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:01:34 and is currently ranked third in the BIG EAST in the 400-meter hurdles. Hughes became the first Providence College student-athlete to earn All-BIG EAST honors in two, distinctly different sports since 1995. 

Mooney helped her team claim an at-large bid to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Fla. after claiming three top-10 finishes throughout the cross country season, including a first-place finish at the Friar Cross Country Invitational. Mooney claimed All-BIG EAST honors in two individual events at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships in February with a second-place finish in the 500-meters and a third-place finish in the 300-meters. She was named BIG EAST Athlete of the Week on Sept. 28. Most recently, Mooney placed second in the 10,000-meters at the Penn Relays with a time of 33:23.9. Her time set the Irish U23 National record and ranks sixth all-time in Providence College track history.

Rodgers finished her career at Providence College with 89 games played, including 83 appearances in the starting lineup. She anchored the Friars’ defense over the past five years, logging over 7,000 minutes. Rodgers also played a critical role in helping the Friars qualify for BIG EAST Tournament in four of her five seasons with the program (2017-19, 2021). In 2021, the Rodgers and the Friars earned an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. At the conclusion of 2021 spring season, she was selected to the All-BIG EAST Second Team.

Durham transferred to Providence in the Spring of 2021 after a four-year career at Indiana. Durham was a leader on and off the court for the Friars. He played the final three months of the season with a painful sports hernia, but he refused to let it end his season. He finished first on the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) and free-throw percentage (83.4 percent). He also led the BIG EAST in free throws made (166) and attempted (199). Durham was second on the team in assists with 106.  His 166 made free throws ranks eighth all-time at Providence. He was named BIG EAST Player of the Week on Dec. 6, 2021, after leading the Friars to wins over Texas Tech (23 points) and Rhode Island (14 points). Durham was named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team. On March 15, he earned NABC All-District 5 honors. Durham recorded a team-best 21-points versus eventual-national champion Kansas in the Sweet 16 and was named to the NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team. He finished his career with 1,456 points in 154 games.

Horchler wanted one more opportunity to play basketball for the Friars. After the 2021 season was limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he decided to use his final season of eligibility and return to play at Providence. Horchler had a standout season, finishing fourth on the team in scoring (9.9 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.5 rpg). He also led the team in three-pointers made (61) and steals (28). He posted a team-best nine double-doubles this season, including an impressive 16-point, 14-rebound effort versus Richmond to propel the Friars into the Sweet 16.

Ward started all 18 games for the field hockey team on the forward line during the 2021 campaign, after battling injuries for much of her career. She led the Friars in goals (eight) and finished second on the team in points (16). Each of her offensive totals marked single-season career highs. Ward also registered three multi-goal games in her final year with the squad. For her career, the team captain recorded 34 points on 15 goals and four assists.

Lee truly exemplifies the term “student-athlete” as he has entrenched himself in the Providence College community. He has excelled academically, having been named to the Dean’s List and BIG EAST All-Academic Team on multiple occasions, while also juggling a leadership role on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and playing four years of NCAA Division I lacrosse for the Friars. Lee was named Vice President of SAAC during the 2020-21 academic year, while also serving as Chairperson of the SAAC Mental Health Subcommittee. He was elevated to SAAC President as a senior in 2021-22. Lee appeared in three games for the Friars during the 2022 season. He scored his first career point on an assist vs. No. 13 Denver.

For a full list of 2021-22 Letter Winner’s Society Inductees, please click the following link to the event program: 2021-22 LETTER WINNER’S SOCIETY INDUCTION





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