A toast to dear old Penn student-athletes

At the Quaker’s Choice Awards on Wednesday evening at the Palestra, Penn Athletics presented its major intercollegiate senior awards to five student-athletes.

From left, Kristina Khaw, Sam Handley, Theo Lenz, Gracyn Banks, and Nikola Kovacikova. (Image: Penn Athletics)

Penn student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and friends donned their best fancy casual fits on Wednesday evening for the Quaker’s Choice Awards, the unofficial Oscars of Penn Athletics held at the Palestra. Five student-athletes received awards for their contributions on the field, court, and piste, and in the classroom.

Sam Handley of the men’s lacrosse team and Gracyn Banks of the field hockey team took home the most prominent senior awards of the night: the Class of 1915 Award (Handley) and the Association of Alumnae Fathers’ Trophy (Banks).

The Class of 1915 Award, presented each year since 1931, is conferred to a male student-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit and tradition of Penn Athletics. Voting is conducted by the head coaches of Penn’s varsity men’s programs.

As a freshman, Handley, from Portland, Oregon, was an Inside Lacrosse First-Team All-American, a First-Team United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-American, Inside Lacrosse Freshman of the Year, the unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection. He set school freshman records in goals (35), assists (26), and points (61).

Interim President Wendell Pritchett addresses attendees at the Quaker’s Choice Awards. (Image: Penn Athletics)

His sophomore season was canceled by the coronavirus, and he did not compete during his junior campaign, which consisted of a one-game season due to the pandemic. This year, Handley leads the Ivy League in assists (31) and assists per game (3.10), and ranks second in points per game (5.50).

Presented yearly since 1945, the Fathers’ Trophy is presented to a female student-athlete for her contributions to women’s athletics at Penn. Voting is conducted by the head coaches of Penn's varsity women’s programs.

From Burlington, New Jersey, Banks was a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection this past season and a National Field Hockey Coaches Association First-Team All-Region honoree. A defensive standout, her five defensive saves tied for first in the conference and ranked seventh in the country.

Banks led the Quakers in minutes (940) and defensive saves (five), and was second in goals (four) and points (10). Last year, she was a member of the USA Field Hockey National Team that competed in the Junior World Cup in South Africa. This past February, she was named to the USA Field Hockey National Developmental Team.

Theo Lenz of the men’s lacrosse team, Kristina Khaw of the women’s fencing team, and Nikola Kovacikova of the women’s basketball team also received prestigious awards.

Lenz, from Vienna, Virginia; Khaw, from Princeton, New Jersey; and Kovacikova, from Krskany, Slovakia, were awarded the Norman J. Goldring Prize, which is given to one graduating male and one graduating female student-athlete with the highest GPA who earned a varsity letter in their senior year. (Khaw and Kovacikova are co-recipients of the female prize).

Kovacikova was also awarded the George H. Frazier Prize, which is presented to a graduating student-athlete with the highest GPA who competed on the basketball, crew, track, soccer, baseball, or football team.

Immediately after the Quaker’s Choice Awards was the Senior Student-Athlete Celebration in Rockwell Gymnasium.