6 Eph Students Honored at Deford/PinskyAwards Ceremony

2015 Deford Award Honorees (l. to r.): Elliot Chester, Claire Miller, Jamie Horowitz & Nate Thompson
2015 Deford Award Honorees (l. to r.): Elliot Chester, Claire Miller, Jamie Horowitz & Nate Thompson

WILIAMSTOWN, MA -- Six Williams College student contributors to the College's Sports information efforts were honored in Paresky Auditorium at the 26th Frank Deford Award and the 6th Aaron Pinsky '06 Student Broadcasting Award ceremony that featured a speech by Jamie Horowitz the President of Fox Sports National Networks.

The annual Deford Award honors the top student assistants in Sports Information at Williams, while the Pinsky Award is presented to the students who contributed most to the video offerings of the department.

This year it was necessary to hand out an Outstanding Achievement Award to a student whose contributions were immeasurable under the above criteria, but nonetheless remarkable. There have been just two Outstanding Achievement Awards in 26 years.

Williams' Sports Information Director Dick Quinn created the Deford Award, the only award of its kind on a college campus as a way of recognizing the tremendous contributions the students make in promoting and publicizing the Ephs' 32 varsity sports.

The Pinsky Award was created by two of Aaron Pinsky's contemporaries at Williams.

After the awards were handed the new President of Fox Sports National Networks spoke and took questions from the audience. Horowitz, a 1998 graduate of Amherst College told of how his entire TV sports career was molded by Williams graduate Sam Flood '83 at NBC Sports, referring to Flood as a father figure and mentor.

Horowitz urged the students in attendance to determine what their strengths are and to refine them into super power strength as they work on developing careers within or outside of sports.

This year's Deford Award winners included three seniors: Elliot Chester (Brick, NJ), Claire Miller (Wilmette, IL), and Nate Thompson (South Hadley, MA).

Senior, Elliot Chester, Brick, N.J.

His freshman year Elliot attended our student worker meeting and came up to me afterwards and said he would need 10-20 hours a week for Financial Aid. Being the genius I am I told him that I could not guarantee that many hours and perhaps dining services or the library could accommodate him.

He came back sophomore year and said he did not need as many hours so I put him on men's soccer team coverage.

"I was thrilled with Elliot's efforts on men's soccer and then women's basketball so you can imagine how hard it was to miss him for a year while he participated in the College's most prestigious Junior Year Abroad Programme at Oxford University," said Quinn.

"One summer Elliot worked in the NY Mets PR offices and legendary Mets' PR man Jay Horwitz and told me – send me more Elliot Chesters, please," added Quinn. "Last summer Elliot was at Sports Illustrated and even got a byline, prompting Eph legend Tim Layden '78 to Tweet just exactly how many years ahead of his first SI byline it was in Elliot's career."

"A lot of young men and women think they can write sports, but know this – Elliot Chester has the talent to be an outstanding sportswriter should he choose to enter the field," said Quinn. "Not only does he quickly analyze the important events within a contest he has the ability to relay the correct atmosphere and context in which those events occurred."

Pinsky Award Winners (l. to r.): Lincoln Pinsky, Rachel Nguyen, Justin Edwards,
Peggy Pinsky & Rachel Pinsky

"Elliot is one of the finest writers we have ever had and we've had a slew of great writers, kids that have gone on to write for Sports Illustrated, write books, and join the major sports networks."

Elliot will be joining Epic Systems, a medical software company in Madison, Wisconsin after graduation.

Senior, Claire Miller, Wilmette, IL, captain of Volleyball Team

Miller worked in the Sports Information Office for three years updating the website, editing and producing game programs, while also assisting with in-game softball stats and women men's and women's NCAA Tennis tournaments and the 2015 Men's and Women's NESCAC Squash Tournament hosted by the Ephs.

"Claire was always on time or texted when needing to arrive late due to a schedule change, which is huge in the real world and all but non-existent in the student world. Her maturity, professionalism, and attention to detail were noticed and appreciated all three years and last summer she interned at ESPN's Digital Marketing Office in New York City and they loved her," Quinn noted.

"Showing how much the world has changed, Claire was interviewed for the ESPN Internship over Facetime, while studying abroad in Paris for the spring semester."

"It would not surprise me if Claire ends up in NYC working for ESPN Digital Media after graduation. They would be lucky to have her on their team."

Senior, Nate Thompson, South Hadley, MA

A four-year standout contributor to Sports Information where he has been involved with half of the College's 32 sports... amazing. Nate is so dedicated and so unassuming someone needs to clone him before he leaves this campus.

Statting games in all sorts of weather and facilities, writing baseball game stories, men's soccer game stories, gathering live match results for NESCAC/NCAA tennis matches... whatever was needed Nate was willing to help. And help he did. He always gave us his complete attention and full effort.

"The biggest compliment I can give Nate Thompson is this: I have no idea how we are supposed to replace a guy who worked 16 different sports, filled in numerous times on short notice, was willing to help in any way, dressed up as the Purple Cow for a promo video for the 2014 Frozen Fenway Ice Hockey Game vs. Trinity and then stood in unbearable cold to input live the stats of the 2014 Frozen Fenway game."

Thompson recently accepted a position with the U.S. Army that will find him doing communications works.


Every once in a while, well, exactly twice in 26 years it has been necessary to bestow a special award on a truly worthy contributor to Sports Information.

Senior, Greg Becker, Houston TX, received the Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Outstanding Achievement Award (l. to r.):
Dick Quinn, SID and Greg Becker

For three years Greg was a significant contributor to our in-match volleyball stats crew, but his contributions went far beyond the confines of Chandler Gym. Having joined the club volleyball team at Williams Greg learned the game inside and out and he and Assoc. SID Kris Dufour worked tirelessly with our web provider PrestoSports in refining and finally getting their touch screen live stats match system to work.

Here's how Greg described it one day:

"I yell all match; one play I might yell - Williams 3 to serve; receive 5 over attack 7 continue over set 4 attack 9 attack 4 kill." That means Bowdoin 5 passed Williams 3's serve over the net, Williams 11 immediately hit in the block, but Williams got it over the net. Then Bowdoin 4 set 12 who hit into our block but it came off the block such that purple 4 could attack again immediately and 4 got a kill. In September, the stats program would have failed 3 times in those 10 seconds. Now, it works and we get live stats."

"It's a beautiful thing to watch a young person take an interest in something and run with it and create," stated Quinn. "To be honest - Greg got off to slow start in Sports Info but he ended up with the brilliance of the sun. He found a way to use his smarts and creativity and he helped make a volleyball touch screen live stats system work efficiently."

"Greg is headed to the Lawrence Livermore National laboratory – those are the folks who are in charge of the U.S.'s nuclear security.


Six years ago two friends of Aaron Pinsky's, Mike Needham '04 and Zach Ullman '06 proposed the creation of the Aaron Pinsky '06 Broadcasting Award to honor their friend Aaron.

The first Aaron Pinsky '06 Broadcasting Award was first presented in 2010.

Aaron Pinsky graduated from Williams in 2006 with a degree in mathematics. He was known throughout the Williams community as the play-by-play broadcaster for football, men's basketball, and women's basketball.

Aaron was the ideal Williams renaissance man: he was a beloved JA, served on the Record editorial board as both an executive editor and sports editor, and he played the French horn in the Symphonic Winds and other local orchestras.

Sadly, in February 2010 Aaron lost a two-year battle with brain cancer.

Michael Needham and Zack Ullman created the award so that their friend Aaron would know that his name and his passion for Eph sports would live on.

No student can win the Aaron Pinsky Award more than once.

Sophomore, Justin Edwards, Linwood N.J.

"Justin showed up at our student worker meeting his freshman year and noted that he wanted to do commentating on webcasts," said Quinn. "He was nonplussed to find out the one opening in the fall was a sport he was not familiar with – field hockey.

Buoyed by knowing there were some field hockey players in his entry he accepted the job and he was good from the start and only got better as each game rolled around.

Justin Edwards is the first sophomore to win the Pinsky Award.

"The surprising thing to me the first time I heard Justin call a game was how composed and confident he was and how he got excited at just the right time," Quinn stated. "This was surprising, because I had some doubts about how he would do because he is so quiet, but it turned out to be a quiet confidence."

"I also liked that Justin did not try to be the game. He let the game develop and then he explained what was happening. I would not hesitate to ask Justin to call any event we carry because I know he will treat it with respect."

In his first two years at Williams Edwards has called action in 11 of the 16 sports the Ephs webcast. Given that he will be studying next year at the University of London in England he will have just one year left to check off the remaining five sports, which is one of his goals.

Junior, Rachel Nguyen, Lawndale, CA

Rachel Nguyen has been relentless in her pursuit of quality video coverage of Eph teams, athletes, and coaches. Her efforts were noticed from her very first video and she went off the charts with her NCAA Tournament videos that we were required to provide for the National Quarterfinals in Volleyball and Semifinals in Women's Soccer.

Rachel was an ice hockey goalie upon arriving at Williams and played her first two years, but an injury forced her off the ice and Sports Information was the beneficiary of that occurrence and maybe Rachel too. I believe she is now considering a career in video, but we'll see. This is Williams after all, and these Ephs can do a lot of things very, very well.

"There is nothing better than knowing that the person you have assigned a task wants to do the job to the best of his or her ability and that is always the case with Rachel," Quinn noted. "She has an "eye" for capturing sports action and emotion and we are delighted to know that we will have her talents for another year. She has a real future in video should she choose to pursue that field."

Rachel recently received a fellowship from Williams College that will allow her to travel to Vietnam for the two months this simmer to create and finalize a documentary film.