The Commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), Phil Buttafuoco, recently announced that William Smith College junior rower Rebecca Gutwin (Champlain Valley Union/Williston, Vt.) will receive the ECAC Award of Valor during the ECAC Fall Convention Honors Dinner presented by Jostens on Sept. 26, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hyannis Resort.
The ECAC Award of Valor is awarded annually and was established in 1985 to honor an ECAC student-athlete whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serves as an inspiration to all. The recipient of the Award of Valor exemplifies strength of character, perseverance, and most importantly, accomplishment deserving recognition as being truly triumphant.
Joining the William Smith crew team as a first-year, Gutwin trained hard with her teammates during the fall months to become the fastest woman on the novice team. In early January of 2003, Gutwin was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. She had major surgery later that month followed by six and a half weeks of radiation therapy.
While fighting the cancer, she also battled to become a top student-athlete. A mathematics major, she sustained a 3.8 cumulative grade point average. She worked a part-time job, tutored elementary and preschool aged children all the while undergoing daily radiation treatments and practices. She earned her place on the team as the fastest woman on the novice team.
This past spring, Gutwin quietly took on a leadership role as the stroke for the Herons varsity eight boat. She helped lead William Smith to the inaugural Liberty League Championship and earned second-team All-American honors. Gutwin carries the highest grade point average on the team and recently was inducted into the Laurel Society, William Smith's junior honor society. She has been cancer free for nearly two years.
The ECAC's membership includes 323 Divisions I, II, and III colleges and universities from Maine to North Carolina. The conference has honored more than 60 student-athletes since 1985 with the Award of Valor.
The ECAC provides services to its constituents that include: administration of 113 championships and events in 35 men's and women's sports; assigning officials in 15 sports; coordinating awards; administration of affiliate organizations, conventions, meetings, marketing, officiating, playing leagues, public relations and special events. The ECAC serves as the primary conference for selected members in the sports of men's and women's ice hockey, men's lacrosse, men's gymnastics, wrestling, fencing and rowing.