The Orient chooses the male and female "Athlete of the Season" based on his and her exemplary performance, leadership, and commitment to their respective programs. The winners are decided by the editors of the Orient.

Stephen Sullivan ’11

Stephen Sullivan didn't always love tennis this much.

"I started playing when I was 12, my mom made me play," he said. "I didn't really like it, I preferred team sports."

Then much more of a soccer player, the 12-year old Sullivan hardly expected tennis to be his sport of choice. In truth, he may not have realized it until his arrival at Bowdoin.

"I was burned out in high school," he said. "I used to go to all these tournaments, it was kind of rewarding I guess, but it didn't really mean anything."

"It wasn't until I came to Bowdoin that I started to like it again. It was because of the team aspect," he added.

However, Sullivan came to Bowdoin and brought immediate success, going 18-5 in his first year, making an appearance in the Final Four in the nation and helping the team win the NESCAC championship.

"I would honestly say, as an unseeded player I was impressed he made it to the final four at nationals," said teammate Josh Roer '11. "It's pretty remarkable for a freshman."

"That was probably one of the better sports experiences of my life," Sullivan said. "Everyone on the team is like my best friend, we all worked so hard together."

This year, Sullivan said he stepped up his training regimen in the summer because he knew he had to take over the No. 1 spot on the team because of Garrett Gates' '08 graduation.

"I was very impressed with the way he took the off-season," said Roer. "His commitment, working with a trainer— now that we're coming up to the postseason I'm sure it will pay off again."

Sullivan said that he found the No. 1 singles position to be very challenging.

"In the beginning I kind of struggled because I knew I would have a tough opponent no matter who we played," he said.

Sullivan said that after talking to his coach about relaxation techniques, he was able to find his groove again.

"I regained the confidence I had last year," he said.

Clearly, it has served him well as Sullivan has completed the regular season, going 11-4 at the No. 1 singles spot.

There is still time for Sullivan yet, as the postseason looms, starting this weekend at the NESCAC championships.

"In the beginning of the year, we were joking about a national championship," Sullivan said. "But these last two weeks it actually feels like it could happen."

Runners up: Damon Hall-Jones '09 (track), Harry Ashforth '09 (lacrosse).

Ali Chase ’09

Ali Chase '09 may have won Orient Athlete of the Season, but if there were ever a Comeback Player of the Year award, she would have certainly won that, too. Chase entered Bowdoin as a three-season athlete, as a soccer player and a runner for indoor and outdoor track, running mainly the 800-meter race. But in the fall of her junior year, Chase tore her ACL in a soccer game.

"You know you never think it will happen to you," Chase said. "But it did."

Chase had surgery just a month later because she wanted to have it as soon as possible in order to start the recovery process.

"I trained really hard to get back for soccer, but I got tendinitis in my patellar tendon, so I had to rest through the fall soccer season," she said.

The beginning of this year's indoor track season was the first time Chase had been able to run competitively since the spring of her sophomore year.

"I was really nervous, but right from the start it went well, my coach was aware we couldn't overdo it," she said. "With all of the rehab I had done, I definitely came back stronger than before the surgery."

Chase completed the indoor season while staying healthy, and qualified for Open Indoor Nationals.

Teammate Alison Pilon '09 has been impressed by Chase.

"She's pretty motivational in terms of being able to come back and train really hard and do a lot of cross-training, and have such great success, go to nationals," Pilon said. "It's almost too good to be true, she's an inspiration to the team."

Chase runs her races in a distinct way. According to her, she likes to stay in the middle, or even the back, of the pack until the last 100 or 200 meters when she tries to pass the rest of the runners.

"She comes around the first lap and she's behind everybody and I think 'I'm not worried'," said Pilon. "She always seems to come back and pass them."

Chase is about a second off of the Bowdoin record for the 800-meter, but said at the upcoming New England championships she will be running for place, not for time.

"Right now I'm just focused on the team," Chase said.

Even if she does qualify for outdoor nationals, Chase will not be attending as it lands on the same day as graduation.

"I sort of had to decide on that awhile ago, for training," she said.

Runners up: Sarah D'Elia '09 (tennis), Chris Head '11 (track).