6/1/21 (Andover, MA) – At this year’s Senior Athletic Reception, Marcus Lee ’21 and Zack Peng ’21, both members of the Boys’ Varsity Swimming & Diving Team, each received one of the five awards presented. Due to COVID restrictions, few were able to attend the reception, and it was not recorded, so I share the remarks made regarding these two student-athletes.
Zack was awarded the Schubert Key, awarded “to a member of the Senior Class who has excelled in varsity athletics and who has exemplified the qualities of sound character, cheerfulness, and good sportsmanship on the athletic field.”
In presenting the award to Zack, and speaking alongside Belinda Wolf, Andover’s longtime diving coach, Coach David Fox said:
“Zack was the first recruited diver in memory, and he moved right into French House. It’s been fun to see him up close and at a distance these past four years.
“I have no idea what Zack does. Frankly, it scares me. I have no idea how he makes his body do that: the flips, twists, pikes. I do know, though, that Zack is never satisfied. Each time he breaks the surface of the water, he shakes his head violently. Certainly, one reason for this is to shake the water out of his hair. But it is also because, following his dive, Zack always offers a resounding ‘no.’ He expects to do better.
“The ‘no’ is part of Zack’s perfectionism. He is our school and pool record holder. A New England champion. Captain of the diving team as well as the water polo team—where a coach once thought of putting him in the goal knowing that one always puts the best athlete in goal.
“Despite the harshness he always directs at himself—never out of self-pity—Zack is always positive with others, always the leader, the coach, the cheerleader. He leaves our diving program exponentially stronger than he found it, and his influence will be long-lasting.”
Marcus was the recipient of the Phelps Award, “in honor of those student athletes whose sportsmanship, loyalty, humility, and commitment to the success of others is representative of Richard J. Phelps and Phillips Academy athletics.” (Abby Ryan, a three-sport varsity captain and member of the Girls’ Swimming & Diving Team won the other Phelps Award this year).
Before presenting the Phelps Award to Marcus, Coach Fox said:
“With his state of chill and supreme modesty, Marcus has been the ideal member of the swimming team these last four years. From having to swim his weakest stroke at New Englands as a 9th grader, because that’s what the team needed—and after having been disqualified against Exeter for jumping in the water early—to representing the United States at the World Championships in Rio, from being a four-time All American to holding Eastern, New England, School, and Pool records, Marcus has excelled here.
“This year, with the COVID outbreak much worse in the US than in Taiwan, Marcus stayed home until this spring. When he arrived on campus, he joined our training group that hit the water most days at 6:30am. All of this was in preparation for one meet. Marcus had only one chance this year to race. And he seized the opportunity and broke the Pool record in the 100 Freestyle—he already holds the School record. With the Pan Center rising next door, and only one season left in our pool first built in 1912, it is quite likely that the pool will be retired with Marcus having been the fastest 100 Freestyler to have ever touched the water.
“At the end of every practice, meet, bus ride, we gather as a team. After I step away from the huddle, the captain shares a few words and someone leads a cheer. (It’s always the same cheer, just “Blue”—we are simple people). At the end of the meet a few weeks ago, we gathered the training group, and after I handed roses to our seniors, Marcus, our captain this year, led the cheer. Afterwards, he came over and pointed out it was the first—and only—time he’d ever done so.
“It’s been such a terrible year around the world in so many ways. I’ve never heard Marcus once lament the opportunities lost but rather I witnessed him focus exclusively on seizing the opportunities afforded. There is no student whom I respect more, nor have I known anyone more deserving of the Phelps Award.”