Yale Honors Six with Awards at Senior Student-Athlete Reception

(photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
(photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Six seniors were honored by the Yale Athletics Department with awards at the annual senior student-athlete reception Saturday afternoon at the Lanman Center in Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Trey Phills (Charlotte, N.C.) of the men's basketball team and Kate Zendell (Suffern, N.Y.) of the women's cross country and track and field teams were the recipients of the Ford Student-Athlete Community Outreach Award. Carrie Heilbrun (Fairfax Station, Va.) of the women's swimming and diving team and Simon Whiteman (Trumbull, Conn.) of the baseball team were the recipients of the Kiphuth Student-Athlete Distinction Award. Shelby Kennedy (Vail, Ariz.) of the softball team and James Kochanski (Colorado Springs, Colo.) of the men's soccer team were the recipients of the Meyer Humanitarian Award.

The Ford Award that Phills and Zendell won is given annually to one female and one male student-athlete who have demonstrated commitment to strengthening the relationship between Yale Athletics and the New Haven community. It is named in honor of Thomas W. Ford '42, who endowed the Yale Athletics Community Outreach Program in 1996.

Phills has been active both on the Yale campus and in the New Haven community. Each fall since his sophomore year, he has volunteered in the Cultural Connections' pre-orientation program for incoming students. In his junior year, Phills participated in Alpha Phi Alpha's "Go to High School – Go to College" initiative at a New Haven magnet school, speaking to students about valuable life lessons and peer pressure. In addition, Phills has volunteered at a local Baptist Church, helping serve the community at a monthly food pantry.

Phills is the son of former NBA guard Bobby Phills, who tragically died in a car accident after leaving a Charlotte Hornet pre-game shootaround in 2000. Trey wears jersey No. 13 like his father and often speaks about impacting the community in a similar fashion to his father, who was beloved for his service in the Charlotte area.

A graduate of Charlotte Christian High School, Phills is a sociology major in Ezra Stiles College at Yale. In 2017-18, he was named to the NABC Honors Court, which recognizes the talents and gifts he possesses off the court and the hard work he has exhibited in the classroom. During his four seasons with the team, Yale men's basketball won a pair of Ivy League championships and upset Baylor in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Zendell has been involved in numerous initiatives that bolster Yale's relationship with New Haven. She began her involvement in her first year, when she volunteered for the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project. She delivered leftover food from Yale dining halls to halfway houses in New Haven on a weekly basis. The following year she began volunteering with the Bulldog Buddies mentor program. She tutored 20 children in local elementary schools, helping the students with their schoolwork and their reading comprehension skills.

In January of 2017 Zendell began volunteering with Demos, a Yale undergraduate organization. She performed entertaining science experiments with 30 fourth-grade students from Truman School in New Haven, helping the students get engaged in the field of science from a young age.

Zendell is a psychology major and a graduate of Suffern High School. She is in Silliman College at Yale.

The Kiphuth Award that Heilbrun and Whiteman won is given to the male and female student-athletes who rank highest in scholarship and have earned at least two varsity awards. It is named in honor of DeLaney Kiphuth '41, M.A. '47, who served as Director of Athletics from 1954 through 1976.

Heilbrun, an environmental studies major with a 3.85 GPA, has been active in environmental issues throughout her time at Yale. Last summer she interned with the Environmental Defense Fund, where she worked on projects involving clean energy in Florida, New Jersey and Ohio in addition to leading a team that helped Walmart in its community solar development efforts. On campus, she was worked for Project Bright, and initiative that aims to increase the amount of solar energy generated at Yale, and RE-volv, a nonprofit organization that utilizes crowdfunding to enable individuals to support renewable energy.

Heilbrun was a part of a remarkable run for the women's swimming and diving team. The Bulldogs were undefeated in each of the last three regular seasons of her career and won the Ivy League championship in 2017. Heilbrun, a butterfly/sprint freestyle swimmer, won the 200-year butterfly at the HYP meet this past season and had two top-20 finishes at the 2018 Ivy League Championships.

Heilbrun is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and is in Trumbull College at Yale.

Whiteman, a chemical engineering major, had a 3.97 GPA and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was a Rhodes Scholar Applicant. The captain of the baseball team, he recently was named CoSIDA Academic All-District for the second year in a row and is a candidate to repeat as a first team Academic All-American.

Whiteman excelled on the field throughout his career. He is tied for second on Yale's career hits list with 213. His 71 career steals place him third on Yale's career steals list, and his 135 runs were four away from the Yale career record. He helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back Ivy League Championships (2017-18) and earn a pair of victories in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

A graduate of Fairfield Prep, Whiteman is in Trumbull College at Yale. He is interested in energy production, namely solar energy and photovoltaics.

The Meyer Award that Kennedy and Kochanski won is named in honor of Molly Meyer, a nurse practitioner at Yale University Health Services who has been addressing the health needs of student-athletes at Yale since 1975. The award is given each year to a varsity athlete in the senior class "whose character exemplifies selfless devotion along with compassion and concern for their team and the community at Yale and beyond."

Kennedy has been very generous with her time in the community. At Yale she has served as a Team Impact representative. Team Impact's mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. She also has worked as a counselor and sport director at Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents have been affected by cancer. In addition to working with the children, counselors fully fundraise the camp. Kennedy also has volunteered at two food kitchens in New Haven.

Kennedy is a member of Yale's foremost sexual assault prevention program, working to promote a healthy and inclusive campus climate. In her role, she helps educate all of Yale's first years and sophomores through workshops. She creates and executes workshops for Yale's varsity teams to fulfill NCAA mandated sexual violence prevention education. In addition, she has assisted with events on campus, including Take Back The Night. She also is part of the Yale Student Athlete College Council, serving as the treasurer and secretary in 2017-18.

A graduate of Cienega High School, Kennedy is a cognitive science major in Pauli Murray College. An outfielder, she is a two-time NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete selection and a three-time All-Ivy League selection.

Lauded for his determination and contributions to the team culture, Kochanski worked his way into the starting lineup twice this past season -- including Yale's win at Army West Point. Kochanski, part of the Air Force ROTC program at Yale, was part of the Air Force mentorship program and found numerous other ways to impact the community. He served as a mechanical engineering tutor and was a part of Yale Hunger Heroes, a student group that is part of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project and Dwight Hall.  During the school year, the group helps serve reclaimed food from Yale dining halls on Fridays and Saturdays in the parish house of the United Church.

Kochanski has also been a part of the New Haven Reads program, which increases the literacy skills of local children by providing one-on-one after-school tutoring, educational family support and a community book bank. Alongside his teammates, Kochanski has volunteered at Yale's annual Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive, named after former Yale women's ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011). That drive adds potential life-saving marrow donors to the Be The Match Registry®.

Kochanski is a mechanical engineering major in Grace Hopper College. He is a graduate of Palmer Ridge High School.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity