Sept. 18, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - It was a perfect fall afternoon for a football game at Villanova Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15th, yet perhaps the most special part of the day came not from Villanova's defeat over Rhode Island on the field, but from the recognition that took place at halftime. During the halftime break, senior water polo captain Maria Campanile was honored with the Female Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award presented by Athletic Director Vince Nicastro and Associate AD of Compliance and Student Services Gordon Finch. Campanile's motivating efforts have earned her the respect of her teammates and coaches and now one of the highest honors a student-athlete at Villanova can achieve.
Since 1985, the Villanova Athletic Department awards the Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award to the student-athlete who "unselfishly sacrifices time, effort, body, and soul to lead and motivate their teammates in excelling for Villanova athletics through `inspiration'."
Campanile, a senior VSB Accounting major and Burr Ridge, Illinois native, received the high honor due to her selflessness and commitment to the water polo team both in and out of the pool. Water polo head coach Damon Newman nominated Campanile because of her continuous commitment to bettering the team as athletes and young women.
Her dedication and self-sacrifice have been very evident on the water polo squad as Newman stated in his nomination, "Maria is the ultimate teammate in leading by example and sacrificing of herself for her teammates and her school. She was named team captain in her junior year, and has embraced her role as a leader and a selfless athlete that puts the team's needs over her own. Maria's attributes have allowed her to grow into a great mentor and counselor on the team."
Serving as the team captain didn't alter Campanile's approach, but only caused her to give more of herself as she said, "As a captain, I took on more responsibility with more girls, but I didn't change what I did. I have always been a "lead by example" leader. If I give 100%, everyone else will and I never ask anyone to do something I wouldn't do."
Leading by example is something that seems natural to Campanile as her dedication to the team goes beyond workouts and water polo matches. She described her approach to being a good role model in and out of the pool, "It's about being there every day. Showing up all the time. Everyone gets sick, has a lot of homework or is busy and can't do something. But also it's just kind of making sure I am a friend in and out of the water and I feel sometimes being a friend out of the water is really important. Always supporting them and making sure our intensity is up all the time."
Campanile's cultivation of her teammates partly comes from her own initial struggles as a member of the water polo squad. When she first got to Villanova, Campanile admits she wasn't the best swimmer and sometimes questioned her role on the team. "I struggled with knowing I was always a member of the team. That's why I make sure everyone knows they are a valuable member... you may feel like you're one of 20, but you are a special part of the team no matter what your role is."
While Campanile has shone brightly in terms of her dedication to the betterment of the team outside of the pool, she has also aided in Villanova's success during her three seasons on the water polo team. Campanile had a strong year of success during the 2012 season as she registered a goal, nine steals and two blocked shots. She was also named to the MAAC All-Academic Team for the second-straight season and was again named captain for her upcoming senior season.
Campanile embodies a powerful attribute that both college students as well as student-athletes find hard to obtain: balance. She excels in the classroom and in the pool, while also growing as a person and nurturing those around her. Campanile is very involved on campus. Besides participating in a varsity sport at Villanova, she lends her time as a three-year representative of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a peer advisor in the Business School, a member of the Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Fraternity and recently joined the Athletics Leadership Institute. Campanile also already has plans for her life after Villanova as she has accepted a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago.
The passion and devotion Campanile displays truly sets the precedent for not only other athletes, but the student body at Villanova as Newman added, "Maria displays the highest level of commitment and spirit as she sets the standard of a student athlete at Villanova. She maximizes her potential in the pool and she helps lead the team behind the scenes with composure and dignity. The Sister Mary Margaret Cribben Award is one of the highest honors you can receive at the school, and Maria proudly represents the water polo team and the University."
And Campanile could not have been a more gracious or excited recipient of the incredible recognition.
It was a perfect fall afternoon for Campanile who beamed as she explained her excitement that her dad and teammates lined the sidelines to cheer her on when she accepted her award. On how she felt on Saturday, Campanile humbly stated, "I just felt really honored and excited. And I felt like four years of hard work paid off. I've put everything into it for four years."
Campanile and the Wildcat water polo squad look forward to a second-consecutive MAAC Championship appearance in the 2012-2013 season, and with Campanile's continuous support behind them, there's no way they won't reach that goal.