When prospective recruits are asked about their greatest impressions while touring Pitt’s campus, many mention either the Cathedral of Learning or Heinz Chapel.
Few probably realize the magnitude of the stone pathway that leads them from one landmark building to the next. Known as the Varsity Walk, it features the names of the Panthers’ all-time greats.
Five senior student-athletes will have their names added to the Varsity Walk after they were honored Monday night at Pitt’s Senior Awards banquet at the William Pitt Union.
All-Americans H.B. Blades, Aaron Gray and Julianna Reed received the Panther Award as outstanding seniors who “promoted Pitt through athletic achievement.” Tyler Palko and Kristin Brown received the Blue-Gold Award, for representing the “student-athlete ideal based on academic scholarship, athletic achievement, leadership and citizenship.”
Blades, a three-time, first-team All-Big East selection, was named Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Gray was a two-time, first-team All-Big East selection, while Reed was an All-American in the 400-meter hurdles. (She owns school records in that event and the indoor 800 relay).
Palko was a three-year starter at quarterback who finished second in school history in total offense and touchdown passes, and was named to the AFCA’s Good Works Team and a Division I-A Coca Cola Community All-American for raising funds to create the TC House, a group home for individuals with Down Syndrome.
Brown, captain of the women’s swim team, was a two-time Big East 200-meter freestyle champion. She was named 2006-07 Big East Swimming and Diving Student-Athlete of the Year and earned the Faculty of Arts and Science Dean’s Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Studies Award.
Three decades from now, their records will likely have been broken and their accolades and accomplishments surpassed by other Pitt student-athletes. What will remain is a stone signifying their place in Panthers history.
To paraphrase Pitt assistant athletic director for media relations E.J. Borghetti, there may be no such thing as immortality but having your name etched in stone is close.
For those five, the stone pathway between Pitt’s most distinctive buildings will serve as a walk to remember.