For the fifth consecutive year, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center hosted student athletes from each of the 38 member schools of the Super Essex Conference along with their families for a celebration of the qualities that made Yogi a national treasure. Recipients of the Investors Bank Best Teammate Award exemplify the strength of character, sportsmanship and supportive spirit that, though often unheralded, are vital to a team’s success.
“The recipients of the Best Teammate Award display the supportive, respectful dedication to team and sport that defined Yogi Berra as an athlete and a person,” said Eve Schaenen, Executive Director of the Yogi Berra Museum. “The Museum is all about sustaining Yogi’s legacy and the ideals he lived by his entire life, both on and off the field. We’re thrilled to recognize young people who are living up to the high standards he set for us all. And we’re very grateful to Investors Bank for helping make the experience possible for these exceptional student athletes.”
The winners, selected by their respective athletic departments, enjoyed a celebratory banquet before hearing from special guest speaker Beth Gottung and receiving their awards. Gottung served as Montclair State University’s field hockey coach starting in 2002, before stepping down in 2015 after 13 seasons to become the Director of Development for Athletics in University Advancement. When Gottung took over in 2002, Montclair State had a career program record that was 27 games under the .500 mark with four postseason appearances. When she stepped down, Montclair State was 112 games over the .500 mark (a 139-game swing) with 14 postseason trips, including the only five NCAA Division III Tournament appearances in program history. A graduate of American International College in Springfield, MA, Gottung earned Northeast-10 All-Conference honors in field hockey in 1999, and was selected as an Academic All-American following the 1997 and 1999 field hockey seasons and the 1999 lacrosse campaign. Gottung’s remarks proved inspirational to the young athletes, who were equally enthusiastic about the awards themselves.
The evening closed with remarks from Maria DaSilva, Best Teammate Award recipient from ECTV North 13th Street in Newark. “It is not easy to be a student-athlete and spend a countless amount of late nights trying to finish homework and other mandates after a long game or meet,” DaSilva said. “To make sure that not only academics are on point but also to attend every practice. And on top of that to be considered the best teammate.”