Celebrating Excellence: UChicago’s Order of the “C” Banquet Honors Student-Athletes and Tradition

Earlier this month, the nation’s oldest Letterman’s Association recognized the achievements of UChicago’s male varsity sports teams.


UChicago Athletics

Ratner Gymnasium the evening of the event.

By Cael Saxton

On May 8, Ratner Gymnasium hosted the 119th Order of the “C” banquet – a celebration of UChicago’s nine male varsity sports teams. As the nation’s oldest letterman’s association—an organization that awards qualifying athletes with varsity recognition—the Order of the “C” is steeped in history. UChicago Athletics’ website reads that part of the order’s mission statement is “to keep the memory of the University athletic life and… perpetuate the athletic honor and traditions of our University.” 

Led by Head Varsity Wrestling Coach Leo Kocher, President of the Association Tanner Baldwin (Soccer, ‘24), and Vice President Daniel Lingen (Wrestling, ‘25), the night brought together each team to celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of Maroon student-athletes this year.  

Over the course of the evening, each sport was represented by a coach who would provide a recap of their season and honor a select one or two individuals to receive their respective team’s awards.  

A few of the award winners shared what the recognition means to them.  

As part of the National Champion Men’s Soccer Team, third-year Robbie Pino and fourth-year Richard Gillespie were recipients of the Team MVP and Stagg Medal awards, respectively.   

As he is only a only a third-year, Pino was excited to win the award. “It definitely gave me confidence for the fall and hopefully reaching the same goals next year,” Pino said.  

The University will definitely be glad to have Pino back for what looks to be an exciting next season as the Maroons look to defend their national title.  

Gillespie was honored to have been awarded the Stagg Medal, a prestigious award given, according to UChicago’s athletics website, “to the senior male athlete with the best all-around record for athletics, scholarship, and character.”  

“I will continue to do my best to live up to the high standards associated with the award and am excited to continue supporting the athletic department in the years to come,” Gillespie said upon winning the medal.

The team and University will certainly miss Gillespie’s leadership. He will serve as a shining example of what it means to be a UChicago student-athlete and Stagg Medal recipient, a title he will have for the rest of his life. 

On the tennis court, first-year MVP Emil Grantcharov shared that he is thankful for all his teammates’ continued support throughout the season. In particular, he noted the adversity he and his teammates battled throughout the season.

“This year was particularly difficult for our team because of multiple injuries. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed representing the school and being part of such a great team. I’m excited to see what next season has in store for us,” Grantcharov told The Maroon. 

In the pool, third-year Garrett Clasen was awarded the Swimming and Diving team’s highest honor. Having amassed three national titles and eleven All-American finishes so far in his two years competing, it’s safe to say Clasen is in elite company. 

In his remarks after winning the award, Clasen gave a nod to his teammates and coaches. “This award isn’t just about me,” he said. “Our team has made huge strides this season, and I am just one of many excellent workers our team possessed. They all pushed me to be the best I could be, and I couldn’t have had the season I had without them. It was an honor to contribute to the best NCAA finish in team history.”  

It certainly was an impressive season for Clasen and the rest of the Maroon Swimming and Diving Team, who took third place at the NCAA Championships.  

On the diamond, third-year Drew Bryan was awarded the Brian J. Baldea ‘MVP’ Award. Bryan collected an impressive 89 strikeouts during the season — a school record. However, Bryan was most reflective of the fact that his own teammates were the ones who voted him to receive the award. “It means a lot to me to be held in such high regard by my teammates. My priority is to help our team win baseball games, and to be recognized for helping our team do that is very special to me,” he stated. Drew was also named MWC Pitcher of the Year at the conclusion of the season. 

Overall, the night was a strong gathering of UChicago’s hardworking student-athletes. Coach Leo Kocher noted over the course of the ceremony how far athletics at UChicago have come. According to the NACDA Learfield Directors’ Cup, a yearly competition measuring the overall athletic success of Division III universities, this would prove to be true. In 1996, the University of Chicago finished in 195th place. Now, the University sits in 5th place. The University has come a long way, indeed. And by the looks of each coach, athlete, and administrative official in attendance at last Monday’s banquet, UChicago is only getting better.  

Full List of Award Winners 


MVP Brian J. Baldea Award — Drew Bryan

Kyle Anderson Award Blane Soper



MVP — Bryce Hopkins 

Joseph A. Stampf Award — Skyler Twyman 


Cross Country 

MVP — John Hood 



MVP — William Skowronski 



MVP — Robbie Pino 


Swimming and Diving  

MVP — Garrett Clasen 



MVP — Emil Grantcharov 

Max Davidson Award — Pat Otero  


Track and Field 

MVP — Simon Dixon 

Edward M. (“Ted”) Hayden Award — Simon Dixon 



MVP — Cole Fibranz 

Clifford Cox ‘Step Up’ Award — Nolan Pozzobon 


Department Awards 

Stagg Medal — Richard Gillespie (Soccer) 

Mulvaney Scholar-Athlete Award — Jeremy Huang (Track and Field)