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Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Omri  Holzman
Hunter College
May 2004

It is difficult to have more success than Omri Holzman has enjoyed in his first two years at Hunter College, and the sophomore is the recipient of the Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month Award for May for his work in the classroom as well as on the track.

“I try to manage my time the best that I can,” said Holzman. “I also have a full-time job so I plan every week ahead, doing all of my heavy school work on the weekends and doing my running early in the mornings.”

A double major in Economics and Computer Science, the native of Tel-Aviv, Israel is carrying an outstanding 3.89 grade point average in the classroom, and the sensation has helped lead the Hawks to a combined six CUNYAC championships in the sports of Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field.

“There’s nothing like having an intelligent athlete, said his coach Ed Zarowin. “I never have to worry about Omri. He does everything that I ask him to do because has the drive, the desire and the determination to be the best that he can be. He has enormous potential. Omri’s goal this past year was to qualify for the ECAC’s and he accomplished it. Next year, the goal of becoming an All-American is definitely within reach for him.”

Holzman helped Hunter capture the Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past May after he won two gold medals at St. John’s University. He won the 5,000 meters in 15:46.33 and took the 10,000 meters in 34:39.92. In addition, he garnered a silver medal in the 1,500 meters, crossing the finish line in 4:17.13. He also stepped out of CUNY and was the runner-up in the 10,000 meters (32:42.32) at the ECAC Championships on May 14, bettering his CUNYAC Championship time by nearly two full minutes.

“The 10,000 meters was a new event for Omri this season,” Zarowin explained. “If there’s one thing that surprised me about Omri’s season, it was how fast he was able to excel at it.”

The awards came fast and furious for Holzman this past year, despite the fact that he’s only been running competitively since enrolling at Hunter. In the fall, he helped lead the Hawks to the CUNYAC Cross Country Championship at Van Cortlandt Park and was the individual champion of the event. He went on to finish seventh at the ECAC Cross Country Championships. In the winter, he captured the 1,500 and the 5,000 meters at the CUNYAC Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships as Hunter won the title. Although he enjoyed a great year, Holzman has set some loftier goals for next season.

“After going to the ECAC’s this past year for both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, I only have two more goals to achieve,” Holzman admitted. “I would like qualify for nationals in all seasons (cross country, indoor, outdoor), and become an All-American at least once.”

One thing is for sure, with Holzman continuing to lead the pack; Hunter should be well positioned for more conference championships in 2004-2005.

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Kathy  Maher
Baruch College
April 2004

All successful teams have leaders to help them dig out of critical situations. Baruch pitcher/outfielder Kathy Maher has developed into that individual for the Bearcats’ softball team, and is the recipient of the Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the month for April.

Regarded as one of the most feared hurlers in the CUNY Athletic Conference, Maher, a sophomore who went 4-2 on the mound and hit .318 in April, has relished her role as a team leader.

“I enjoy being a leader,” says Maher. “It’s very difficult sometimes and it can get to you a bit mentally, but it’s all worth it in the end. My confidence is definitely at its highest when I’m pitching and that’s when I feel I’m really leading.”

Bearcats’ head coach Jose Negroni believes that Maher’s mental make-up is what makes her such a terrific player.

“Kathy’s just a warrior,” said Negroni. “She isn’t afraid to go right after any hitter and loves having all of the pressure on her, and she thrives on it. She just has this look about her when she’s got the ball in her hands and is never scared out there. She hates to lose and loves to win. We also love having Kathy up at the plate in key situations because she is a very good hitter and has a great understanding of the game.”

Maher attributes a great deal of her success to her parents and to Bill Dumont, her head coach at James Madison High School.

“My parents are big role models,” said Maher. “They have always been there to support me and have encouraged me to overcome any obstacles that come my way. When I was a kid, my father took me to numerous pitching clinics and he put up a wooden board in the backyard for me to work on hitting spots and practicing my accuracy. They still come to all of my games. As far as my knowledge of the game is concerned, I have to credit coach Dumont for teaching me so much. Until I got to Baruch, I never realized how much that I had learned from him.”

The product of all of that hard work and knowledge was an outstanding season in 2003-2004. Maher, who was named a CUNYAC First Team All-Star, went 7-3 on the mound with a stingy 1.71 earned run average, and in addition, she fanned 78 batters and only walked 15 batters in 65.2 innings. At the plate, the Brooklyn, New York product hit .321, scored 16 runs and managed to swipe seven bases in seven attempts. In addition, she turned in some memorable performances this past season, including a perfect-game on March 13 against New York City Tech. She also fired a no-hitter against Brooklyn on April 15. In that game, she also went 2-for-4 and also drove in three runs at the plate. She reached double-figures in strikeouts on three occasions, including a season-high 13 against Lehman on April 17.

A CUNY Honors College student, Maher has matched her athletic prowess with tremendous success in the classroom as she is maintaining a 3.93 grade point average. An accounting major, Maher is working on gaining her CPA and eventually landing a job in corporate accounting.

“It’s very hard to juggle academics and athletics,” said Maher. “Honestly, there are many late nights, but I never go to class without being prepared. I have to thank my coaches who are always willing to work around my schedule.”

This summer, Maher, who also works as a waitress at a Pizzeria in Brooklyn, will be studying in Spain through a program sponsored by Binghamton University.

Luckily for opposing batters, Maher is not expecting to work on her game in Spain.

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Tiffanie Clarke
Hunter College
March 2004

Running from one class to another is usually stressful for many students but for Hunter College’s Tiffanie Clarke it’s just a warm-up to her everyday track practices. The dedicated sprinter takes her academics just as seriously as she takes her athletics and it is evident with the senior holding a 3.33 grade point average in Political Science. It is her dedication in the classroom and her performance on the track that earned Clarke the Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month for March.

“It’s not as easy as it seems,” says Clarke regarding time management. “I like to cover as much work as I can during my free time. I like to read on the train and study in between classes.”

The Staten Island native has improved over the past year with the assistance of sprinting assistant coach Sid Milden. Coach Zarowin agrees saying that “the return of coach Milden after several years away from Hunter has been a major factor in Tiffanie’s success.” This was proven to be true by Clarke’s two first place finishes at the CUNY Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship with the times of 7.17 in the 55 Meter Dash and 25.89 in the 200 Meter Dash. She continued her success in the ECAC Championship finishing fourth in both events with times of 7.25 and 26.31, respectively.

“A very important hurdle in Tiffanie’s road to success was covered at the ECAC Championships.” Coach Z continues, “Having faced that level of competition in an intense environment like that has been great preparation for the NCAA Championships.” Her strong performances throughout the indoor season earned her an appearance at the NCAA Indoor Championship where the preparation from the previous two championships helped settle her nerves a bit earning her a fifth place overall finish in the 55 Meter Dash (7.25). “It was a great experience. It almost felt like a mini-Olympics.”

The fifth place finish earned Tiffanie the status of Indoor Track and Field All-American, Hunter’s first female All-American since 1991. “I worked very hard all summer, training at St. John’s University and Van Cortlandt Park with my club team (Aura International). I told my parents and coaches that I would become an All-American and was really confident up until the morning of the race. Then the nerves started to kick in. When I got to the track, I was able to get over the nervousness and just run my race.”

“I think Tiffanie is secure in the fact that she’s graduating this year. That has made the rest of her life less stressful and allowed her to perform at such a high level,” said the Hawks head coach Ed Zarowin. “I never thought I would have a sprinter better than Susana Mentor, who was an All-American in 1991, but her records have now been broken by Tiffanie.”

The Erasmus Hall alum continued her strong performance on the outdoor track by leading the Hunter medley relay team to a first place finish (5:05.50) at the Queensborough Relays. She also helped the 4x100 relay team finish third (55.10) at the same meet which was held on first day of the outdoor campaign.

Clarke is interested in corporate litigation and hopes to work in law in the near future. She has applied to law school at the University of Georgia, Georgia State and South Carolina.

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Eros Qama
College of Staten Island
February 2004

After retreating from athletics in his first semester as a college student to focus on his academics, Eros Qama from the College of Staten Island was ultimately influenced by the Dolphins swimming & diving head coach, Oleg Soloviev, to join the squad. His dedication in the pool and most of all in the classroom, currently holding a 4.0 grade point average, earned Qama the February Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month.

"Receiving this award is not only a honor but it also makes me realize that hard work pays off and influences me to work even harder to achieve future goals.”

The freshman from Curtis High School was glad that he decided to join the Dolphins and instantly became an influential member of the regular season and CUNYAC tournament championship squad. In his short time on the team he not only broke three individual school records in the 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle and the 1000 freestyle but also helped his team set four additional school records in the 400 yard medley, 200 yard, 400 yard and 800 yard freestyle relays.

"It’s hard to be a successful student-athlete on the college level,” the 5’6” freshman said. "It is more intense and requires you to be very dedicated. I wake up early everyday and go to practice before classes begin. Whatever free time I have is spent either in the library or in the pool.”

Qama not only broke numerous school records this year but had a phenomenal performance at the 2004 CUNY Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championship, breaking the record of 5:31.77 in the 500 yard Freestyle with the time of 5:27.01. He also took gold in the 1000 Freestyle (11:22.59) and came up just short of breaking another conference record with the time of 55.64 in the 100 yard Butterfly.

"We had a great season,” said the Staten Island native. "The team is close like family. Coach Soloviev brings out the best in each and every one of us. We all broke records.”

Eros looks to next season with much anticipation and hopes the team makes it to nationals. "He is one of the most dedicated athletes I’ve had here at Staten Island.” Coach Soloviev continues, "Eros will definitely fill a leadership role next season and will be depended on to continue raising the level of talent this team has.”

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Cliff Medina
Hunter College
January 2004

It takes tremendous discipline to be a great wrestler. It takes even more focus to be just as good in the classroom. It's safe to say that Hunter senior Cliff Medina is one of the most disciplined student-athletes in CUNY. For his efforts, he is the Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar Athlete of the Month for January.

The Hawks' standout wrestler, who competes at 133 pounds, currently owns a 21-4 record on the mat this season (8-4 in January), and carries a 3.35 grade point average as a double-major in Economics and Political Science.

So what is the key to his success?

"I plan out my day beforehand,” said the Brick, New Jersey native. "I allot a specified amount of time to academics as well as athletics. I try not to procrastinate with classwork or wrestling. When an assignment is given, I try to finish it as soon as I can.”

Medina, who attended Brick Township High School, has enjoyed a tremendous career and owns a cumulative record of 79-28. Last season, he qualified for the NCAA Tournament and is a three-time New York All- State honoree. In addition, he was a NWCA Academic All-American and won the gold medal in the pole vault at the 2002 CUNY Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

"Cliff has been tremendous for us and he is having another great season,” said Hawks' head coach Bob Gaudenzi. "He's an exceptional worker with great discipline, and he's one of the best team leaders we've ever had. Cliff's mental focus is incredible. His success in both school and wrestling stems from the way he prepares and trains himself for the tasks at hand. One of his strongest abilities is time management because he doesn't waste time when it comes to either studying or training.”

Medina is also very appreciative of the work that his coaches have put in. "I want to thank Coach Gaudenzi as well as our assistant coaches, Corey Luce and Paul Austin, for their support and mentoring. Having coaches who care about their athletes both on the mat and in the classroom is the best thing a wrestler can ask for.”

This season, Medina took first at the Oneonta Tournament for the second straight year, and was fourth at the Wilkes Tournament. Other highlights include a win against fellow national qualifier (DeShawn Fentress, Wooster Polytechnic) and a win at the 141-pound weight class versus his opponent from Metropolitan Conference rival Centenary. His only losses in the state tournament came against NCAA Division I opponents.

"I was looking forward to an undefeated season coming into this year,” Medina said. "I try to set my goals as high as possible. My ultimate goal is still a national championship.”

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

David Barry
John Jay College
December 2004

As a high achieving student at a commuter school both on and off the court, it takes an even greater amount of study time to accomplish your goals. Whether studying in the van on the way to a game or on the subway ride to school, high gpa's require maximum effort. Not many people know this better than David Barry as a member of the John Jay College men's basketball team. Despite the numerous hours of practice that it takes to be an accomplished intercollegiate athlete, Barry still finds time to dedicate to his studies, earning the Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar Athlete of the Month for December.

"It's great to receive this award," said David. "Academics are often overlooked when it comes to athletics and this honor recognizes a student's hard work both in the classroom and on the floor."

After competing in only five games last season due to tearing his ACL, the Archbishop Molloy alum bounced back to become an influential member and starter for the 13-2 Bloodhounds, who were undefeated in the month of December winning six contests, three of which were conference victories. Although the road to rehabilitation was the hardest obstacle Barry has encountered as an athlete, his hard work has paid off. "It's a dream come true in more ways than one. I've come from a state of not knowing if I could play again to starting for the Bloodhounds and Coach Brown." The junior forward currently holds a 3.70 grade point average in Criminal Justice while taking on the responsibilities of being a co-captain along with teammate Pablo Palma.

Ranking among the top five in eight statistical team categories, John Jay is also currently undefeated in conference play (6-0). Holding the number one spot in team field goal percentage (.510), 3-point field goal percentage (.414) and defensive rebounds (32.9 per game) exemplifies the type of team that Coach Mike Brown runs. "He's an in your face type of coach and he doesn't accept anything but the best, forcing all of us to play to our full potential." The Queens native added, "The mixture of our offensive perimeter and post play combined with our half court man-to-man defense makes us a tough team to beat."

Barry is enrolled in the BA / MA program at John Jay and is expected to graduate in June of 2005 and plans on pursuing his Master's Degree shortly after graduating.

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Elena Dadanina
Kingsborough Community College
November 2003

For some people a CUNY education is a destination. For others it is a start of their road map for success. Kingsborough Community College's, Elena Dadanina is one of these people. After dropping out of Brooklyn Tech due to the 9/11 tragedy, she wanted to get back on the educational track. Her hard work paid off earning the Brooklyn native the November Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month honors.

"It is amazing to receive the award," said Dadanina. "It's an honor to be chosen among all of the athletes on both the senior and junior college levels." The Liberal Arts major currently holds a 4.0 grade point average while dedicating her time to become an instrumental member of the successful Kingsborough women's tennis team. "It was a coach's dream to get a phone call from Elena asking about the tennis team having never met her before," said head coach Mel Kerper. "I didn't recruit her but I made an appointment for a tryout and the rest is history."

The Wave's co-captain paired up with teammate Dominika Bajuk to remain undefeated in the regular season. The duo took on Orange Community College in the Region XV championships and claimed the title in #1 doubles in two sets. "I've become a much better player with Dominika as my partner," said the Brooklyn Tech alum. "She made me play up to her level and therefore helped me elevate my game."

Dadanina suffered only her second loss of the year in singles matches to Emily Mack, also of Orange Community College, in the #2 singles championship. "With a powerful forehand Elena has a good shot in winning the national championship," Coach Kerper added, "She's a dedicated athlete and it shows through her play."

The president of Kingsborough's SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) is currently training to compete in NJCAA national tennis championship which is scheduled to be held in Texas, April 30 through May 8, 2004. She is expected to graduate in June of 2004 and hopes to study Business and Finance at a four-year institution.

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Erja Vettenranta
City College Of New York
October 2003


The fall of 2003 was a good season for junior Erja Vettenranta of the City College of New York. She not only was an influential member of the 2003 CUNYAC Women's Volleyball Championship team but also earned her second Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month award in two years. Vettenranta took on the task of leading the Beavers to a successful season earning their first CUNYAC regular season title and tournament championship title since 1984 which resulted in the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships.

"We had a lot of new players this season," said Vettenranta. "I knew that if everyone remained healthy the rest would fall into place."

After being a two-time CUNYAC 1st Team All-Star, Vettenranta took home the Player of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player honors this season.

"It's nice to get the individual recognition but the award belongs to the team." The Beavers captain continued, "Without my teammates I wouldn't be able to do what I do."

The native of Jurva, Finland finished the season third in the conference hitting at a .351 clip while averaging 4.08 kills per game and 0.72 service aces per game, second and tenth in CUNYAC respectively. The Beavers' captain also held her own defensively averaging 4.17 digs per game, securing sixth place in the conference.

"Erja is our key point player," said coach Robert Pichardo. "The team's success comes from her."

While in Finland, Vettenranta helped the 1992 Teuva club team (19 and under) win a national championship and hoped to do the same with the Beavers, who traveled to California to face #3 Cal- State Hayward in the NCAA West Regionals.

"Although we lost, it was a great experience for the team as well as myself," the Beavers' outside hitter said. " Playing at this level of competition provides incentive for our team to get better and you can only get better by playing better teams."

Vettenranta, who currently holds a perfect 4.0 grade point average, is expected to graduate in the fall of 2004 with a Bachelor's degree in both English and Spanish. She hopes to pursue a masters degree in Education after graduation.

Hospital For Special Surgery
Scholar-Athlete of the Month

Iva Skoch
Borough Of Manhattan
Community College
September 2003

As the academic year begins, so does the Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar Athlete of the Year honors. Iva Skoch, a sophomore from Borough of Manhattan Community College, earns September accolades after helping her team claim the 2003 CUNY Athletic Conference Community College Women's Volleyball Championship while sporting an almost perfect 3.89 grade point average. "It's an honor to be the first community college student-athlete to receive this award," said Skoch. "I'm very appreciative and grateful."

The middle hitter came to the United States from Prague, Czech Republic in 1994 via a foreign exchange program and returned permanently in 1999. She was named to the 1995 Ohio High School All- Star team where she played for Revere High School in Akron. Skoch, has been playing volleyball since she was 10 years old, adding up to a total of 16 years of experience. After moving to New York just two years ago the aspiring journalist was on search of a college with a competitive volleyball team.

"I chose to attend BMCC because of the location," said the Panther's team captain. "The diversity of the students is exceptional and the faculty as well as athletic staff is some of the best I have encountered."

The Prague native has become an integral member of the Panther's volleyball team as a rookie, providing leadership both on and off the court. Despite a final round loss to the Fashion Institute of Technology in the 2003 CUNYAC Community College Women's Volleyball Tournament Skoch, who also earned All-Tournament team recognition in the same tournament, helped her team bounce back to have a successful regular season currently holding a 3-0 conference record while being 9-5 overall. "I hope that we continue to play strong as a team and ultimately make it to and win the regional tournament," said Skoch.

The Liberal Arts major plans on attending Columbia University to study journalism, specifically political reporting, but first looks to graduate from BMCC next fall. Skoch hopes to remain on the Panther's volleyball team unless before graduating she is accepted to Columbia, where she also plans to continue her intercollegiate athletic career.

2002-2003 Results: Student-Athletes  17th-Annual-Scholar-Athlete-Awards

2001-2002 Results:
 Scholar-Athletes  16th-Annual-Scholar-Athlete-Awards

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