Athletes Honored At Holiday Dinners

Lock and Anderson receive rugby awards
The Old Montauk Athletic Club’s athlete of the year was the triathloner David Powers of Wainscott, pictured with his 11-year-old daughter, Alden. Jack Graves

    The Montauk Rugby Club and the Old Montauk Athletic Club celebrated some of their own at holiday dinners in Sag Harbor — in the rugby team’s case — and at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett.

    James Lock, a prop forward who despite living in Center Moriches “made all of our games and 95 percent of our practices,” according to the side’s coach, Rich Brierley, was the recipient of the Sharks’ most valuable player award, and Brian Anderson, the 25-year-old scrum half, was named clubman of the year, an award, said Brierley, that acknowledges the recipient’s contributions not only on the field but off it.

    The Sharks did not give out a rookie of the year this time, inasmuch none of the new guys had compiled a body of work, as it were.

    As Ryan Borowsky said before the awards were handed out at the Muse restaurant, which is on Sag Harbor’s Main Street, the side’s 0-6 record in the fall (three more league games are to be played in the spring) was a rarity — an anomaly, it is hoped.

    “We’ll continue to play,” Brierley said during a conversation afterward. “We still have the guys — we can field a team.”

    Though the pool of recruits here has dwindled. Anderson, who has attributed the falloff in interest to his peers moving away, will himself move, to St. Kitts, he said, should he be given an elementary teaching job there.

    It wasn’t long ago that Montauk was a perennial contender in national rugby competitions. Some of those players, Brierley, Gordon Trotter, Garth Wakeford, Jay Short, and Chris Carney among them, remain, though virtually all of them have retired at least once only to suit up again when asked.

    “We’re going to try to stay where we are [in the newly formed Empire Geographical Union’s southern Division III group],” Brierley said. “We don’t want to be relegated to Division IV.”

    Further on the winless fall, Brierley said in the side’s defense that “we were competitive in every game we played — we weren’t blown out.”

    The honorees at the OMAC dinner, at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett, were David Powers of Wainscott and New York City, who was the club’s athlete of the year, acknowledging his triathlon wins here over the past seven years, and Diane O’Donnell, the longtime East Hampton High School girls cross-country and track coach, who received the club’s community service award.

    Of O’Donnell, the new chief of the East Hampton Ambulance Association, the program said, “Her deep involvement with the athletic community as a runner and coach began with the encouragement of her husband, Bill. . . . She has participated in 14 marathons, countless triathlons, duathlons, and adventure races. In local races she can always be found at the top of her age group — nationally too.”

    “She, in turn, has encouraged many youngsters, including her own four children, to follow her athletic lead. Many of those she has coached here in cross-country and track have continued to run competitively in college. She also is one of five staff members who work with the teenaged girls of the phenomenal I-Tri [Transformation Through Triathlon] program.”

    O’Donnell, a founding member of OMAC, has been one of its officers for the past 10 years, and has served on several of its committees. “She has been an inspiration for decades,” the program noted.

    David Powers, a part-time investments manager who’s 46 years old, did not win a triathlon this year, though, interestingly, he duked it out in the Sprint triathlon in Montauk and in the Mighty Man triathlon in Sag Harbor with competitors half his age, one of whom is a pro.

    A former four-time all-American swimmer (backstroke) at Amherst College, and a national masters backstroke champion in 2003, Powers began triathloning in 2002 at the suggestion of a fellow New York Athletic Club swimming teammate, and won the Sprint to the Lighthouse triathlon in 2007, at the age of 39. The next year he won the Robert Aaron Memorial triathlon in Montauk, and in ’09 he was again the Sprint champion, following up with another win at the Robert Aaron event in 2010.

    This past summer, Powers placed third in the Sprint triathlon, behind a 24-year-old pro, Tom Eickelberg, and the 23-year-old Ryan Siebert, who caught him in the last half-mile of the 5K trail run. He was the runner-up to Siebert, by a mere 14 seconds, two months later at Mighty Man, a one-and-a-half mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run in Sag Harbor.

    This writer, who gave the athlete of the year plaque to Powers, concluded his remarks by saying that the honoree was “not daunted by his competition: He told me that if he remained injury-free this winter and stays in shape, he’s hoping to ‘reverse the trend and beat these guys’!”