Six Tigers Named Finalists for Chris Sailer Leadership Award

Six Princeton student-athletes have been named finalists for the 2024 Chris Sailer Leadership Award in honor of Chris Sailer, Hall-of-Fame women’s lacrosse coach at Princeton from 1987-2022. The award, made possible by Lucy Small DeStefano ’99 S94 and Chris DeStefano ’94 S99, is awarded annually to senior student-athletes who demonstrate exceptional leadership and a commitment to serving others.

The Chris Sailer Leadership Award will be presented at the Gary Walters’67 Princeton Varsity Club Awards Banquet on Thursday, May 23rd starting at 5:00 p.m. ET. For more information on the 2024 banquet, click here.

Meet the 2024 finalists!

MATT ALLOCCO ’24 | MEN’S BASKETBALL
Matt Allocco is a two-year team captain and two-time All-Ivy performer for Princeton men’s basketball. His senior season saw Allocco join the exclusive 50/40/90 club, becoming just the eighth player in NCAA Division I history to average shooting splits of 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line while scoring 12+ points and logging 30+ minutes per game.

Allocco, who never missed a game during his Princeton career and regularly guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player, was the catalyst and inspirational team leader behind one of the most successful three year stretches in program history. This 2022-2024 run saw the Tigers capture three consecutive Ivy League championships for the first time in nearly three decades.

As a junior captain, Allocco led the Tigers to upset wins over No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 7 seed Missouri and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, Princeton’s first time playing in the regional round since 1967. He followed that up with a senior campaign that saw the Tigers match their best start in program history and claim an outright Ivy League title.

Allocco is a sociology major from Hilliard, Ohio.

LEILANI BENDER ’24 | WOMEN’S RUGBY
Leilani Bender is a senior flanker for Princeton women’s rugby. The two-year captain has been instrumental in leading the Tigers during their transition to varsity status these past two seasons. Bender garnered All-NIRA honors in Fall 2023 and was invited to participate in USA Rugby’s Talent ID camp this spring. Additionally, she has been honored with the program’s Most Versatile Player and Top Defensive Player Awards, as well as the Phil Rogers Award for leadership and sportsmanship.

Bender has also been a positive force in the community, actively volunteering with Reading with the Tigers, PVC youth sports clinics and serving as a tutor and teaching assistant for middle and high school students. She is a student leader within Princeton Campus Recreation and serves with Natives of Princeton helping to bring visibility and awareness to Native and Indigenous issues.

An All-Academic honoree and Shapiro Prize recipient, Bender is a civil and environmental engineering major from Honolulu, Hawaii.

MARISSA HART ’24 | WOMEN’S SOCCER
Marissa Hart is a two-time captain and honorable mention All-Ivy midfielder for Princeton women’s soccer. She started nearly 40 games in her career, helping the Tigers to two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Hart missed the 2022 season due to a serious knee injury, but continued to lead the team in her role as co-captain from the sidelines. She returned in 2023, and in her second year as team captain and leader, helped guide the Tigers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament – and near upset of No. 4 Texas Tech – for the second time in her career. 

Off the pitch, she has been a member of the Student-Athlete Wellness Leaders program, organizing events to increase awareness and support around student-athlete mental health and wellness. She has also been active with the Wounded Tigers student-athlete group, Best Buddies organization and worked as an Intramural Supervisor for Princeton Campus Recreation.

Hart is an economics major from Charlotte, N.C.

YU KYUNG KIM ’24 | WOMEN’S GOLF
Yu Kyung Kim is a two-time All-Ivy performer for Princeton women’s golf. Her seventh-place individual performance helped lead the Tigers to the 2022 Ivy League championship, before achieving a program best finish at that year’s NCAA Tournament in the Stanford Regional.

Kim’s senior campaign saw Princeton battle injuries, often competing with the minimum five healthy golfers. Her steady leadership, inspiring play and resolve as co-captain helped the Tigers persevere and compete valiantly throughout the spring season.

Off the course, Kim has supported her team as a SCORRE leader and served as Outreach Chair for the Asian Student-Athletes of Princeton (ASAP) affinity group.

She has volunteered as an Associate in Medical Training for Princeton Emergency Medicine and previously worked as a COVID Lab Specialist for the University. Additionally, she serves as Publicity Chair for the KoKo Pops Dance Company.

Kim is a neuroscience major from Seoul, South Korea.

IAN MURPHY ’24 | MEN’S ICE HOCKEY
A senior forward and captain for Princeton men’s ice hockey, Ian Murphy led the Tigers in goals and total points over the past two seasons. Murphy is a former ECAC Rookie of the Year Finalist and three-time All-Ivy honoree, earning recognition in each of his three seasons on the ice. He has also participated in NHL Development camps with the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues.

Despite battling several injuries throughout his senior campaign, Murphy found ways to stay on the ice and continued to inspire and lead his team. He was awarded both the 1941 Championship Trophy and Richard Vaughn Cup Team Award recognizing perseverance and dedication to Princeton Hockey.

A three-time ECAC All-Academic honoree, Murphy has served his campus community as a SCORRE leader and Director of the “Dorm Furnishings” student agency. Off the ice, he has mentored young athletes through the Special Olympics and other youth hockey partnerships. Additionally, Murphy helped implement team leadership pods while also organizing a multi-day Navy Seal Training to facilitate team bonding and development.  

Murphy is an economics major from Scituate, Mass.

CAROLINE SPAHR ’24 | WOMEN’S SQUASH
Caroline Spahr is a two-year captain for Princeton women’s squash. As a first-year, Spahr garnered Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-America honors while helping to lead the Tigers to the Howe Cup finals.

Spahr remained in the Princeton line-up while battling injury much of her junior and senior years, and her perseverance and unwavering leadership as co-captain helped the Tigers retain their national prominence, finishing runner-up in the Howe Cup this past season after a third-place finish in 2023. The 2024 Tigers defeated eight-time reigning national champion Harvard en route to the championship match. Spahr finished her career with a 37-13 dual match record, including a perfect 7-0 mark during her senior season.

A Milton, Mass. native, Spahr is studying molecular biology with a minor in global health and health policy. Spahr has gained valuable experience working as a research and laboratory intern for several biology and life science-based companies throughout her undergraduate career.