The Embodiment Of Luke Dunivantís Legacy
By Emily Iannaconi
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Every year, the Holy Cross men’s soccer team gives the Luke Dunivant Award to a member of the team, who like Luke, has inspired others by displaying outstanding courage, commitment to the team and sportsmanship during his career. The recipient of this year’s award was senior defender Ryan Gavey (Fairfield, Conn.), who is known for his exceptional consistency as well as his leadership on and off the field.
The Luke Dunivant Award was established in memory of former Holy Cross men’s soccer player Luke Dunivant, Class of 1997, who passed away in 2008 after a courageous battle with leukemia. Past winners of the award are Peter Wholly (2009), Tom Van Grinsven (2010), Jordan Michael (2011), Pat McCann (2012), Monty Sanders (2013), Michael Thompson (2014) and Eddie Gibbons (2015).
Luke’s brother, Todd Dunivant who won five Major League Soccer championships with the Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes, appreciates the meaning behind the award. “To have this award that is named for my brother year after year, and given to the player who displays courage and inspires his teammates is an incredible honor because his legacy lives on,” explained Dunivant. “It’s an important award because it’s not about who scores the most goals but is instead about the ultimate team guy and the player who embodies that team spirit. To have that named after Luke is really special.”
Former teammate of Luke, Piet Gauchat (Class of 1996) understands the kind of player and friend Luke was from their time together at Holy Cross. “Luke played central midfield and had a very precise and cerebral approach to the game,” said Gauchat. “He was an unselfish leader and had a critical role in rebuilding the program. Luke's personality largely reflected the manner in which he approached the game. He was reliable, committed to those around him, and worked hard to enable his friends and teammates.”
Gauchat appreciate the opportunity to celebrate Luke through the annual presentation of this award. “The Luke Dunivant Award provides an opportunity for those who cared about Luke to remember him,” expressed Gauchat. “It reminds the Holy Cross Community of who Luke was and of of his contributions. I am proud that Luke's teammates and friends came together to honor him in this way.”
Gavey finding out that he is the winner of the 2016 Luke Dunivant Award
Head coach Marco Koolman discussed why he believes that Gavey is deserving of the award. “I think Ryan is an exceptional player, but also an exceptional person who has been the most consistent player in my time here at Holy Cross,” said Koolman. “With Ryan, you know what you're going to get. It’s always hard work, it’s always one hundred percent in commitment and his determination level is fantastic.”
Former teammate of Gavey and recipient of last year’s Luke Dunivant Award, Eddie Gibbons, echoed the sentiments of his former coach. “I can not think of a more deserving person to receive this award than Ryan,” said Gibbons. “He is a class act who exemplifies the values of the award on and off the field.”
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Gavey started playing soccer alongside his older brothers when he was only three years old. His oldest brother Kevin played soccer for Brown and his second oldest brother Connor, played soccer at Dickinson. “When we were younger, we had a goal in our front yard and they stuck me in goal and would shoot on me,” recalled Gavey. “It was always something fun to do around the house.”
Gavey said that he and his brothers have always been very close growing up. “We’re all very similar in a lot of ways and I know throughout elementary school, middle school and high school, teachers and friends always compared us a lot,” said Gavey. “A lot of the times, I would get called by my brothers’ names in class.”
Gavey and his siblings
Gavey has never considered these similarities to be a negative though. On the soccer field, Gavey has frequently been compared to his oldest brother Kevin. “I’ve been told that we play alike and I’ve always taken that as a big compliment,” said Gavey.
BECOMING A LEADER
Gavey started in all 68 games that he played in during his career
While Gavey may play like his oldest brother, he has developed his quiet leadership style from his brother, Connor who he played alongside in high school for two years. “He’s not a very fiery person either,” explained Gavey. “So I think that I learned a little bit of my leadership style from him.”
Instead of being a loud player, Gavey chooses to lead by example and his conscientious work ethic translates over to his teammates. “It’s important to me to do the little things day-in and day-out,” said Gavey. “Focusing on what we have to do in practice to improve ourselves and improve the team is where I feel I’ve helped out the most. We have to make sure to do everything to the best of our ability and help everyone realize their personal strengths and what they can bring to the team.”
As a senior, Gavey understands that he has an increased leadership role on the team by being a mentor to some of the younger players. “I think the most important thing is trying to learn from as many people as you can,” said Gavey. “And I’ve always tried to focus on doing the little things right and that translates over to other people.”
TEAMMATES AND FRIENDS
Gavey and the 2016 seniors on Senior Day
Gavey has created many memories with the other four seniors on the soccer team as well as his other teammates throughout his time at Holy Cross. He admits that not having his teammates around, some of whom are also his roommates, will be an adjustment next year. “Growing up, I’ve always had a good connection with my team and I’ve always had a team full of good people and that was the same way here,” said Gavey. “Throughout the four years, we’ve known seven different classes of people and I feel like all of them have been incredible and I’ve been able to learn a lot from them both on and off the field.”
Gavey is not yet sure what life holds for him after graduation but he is certain that he will take the confidence that he has developed during his time as a Holy Cross soccer player beyond the hills of Mount St. James. “In the beginning, I was still very tentative and shy playing-wise,” said Gavey. “But once I felt like I belonged here and I could be on the team, I gained confidence that helped me play even better and secure a starting spot.”
Gavey and his sophomore teammates at Fenway Park in 2014
Ultimately, Gavey has appreciated the opportunity to be a student-athlete here on the Hill. “I’ve had a great time at Holy Cross and there isn’t anything that I would want to change,” he said.
HOW HE WILL BE REMEMBERED
Todd Dunivant’s description of his brother’s attitude on and off the field relates to Gavey in more ways than one. “Luke was very unselfish almost to a fault,” said Dunivant. “He always looked to pass rather than shoot. He was a player who wanted to make the guy next to him look better. He would do the hard work, he was really tough defensively and he was a rock for the team. He would do whatever it took for the team to win and that’s what I remember the most about him.”
Having started in every game during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, and only missing four games due to injury, Gavey is also going to be remembered after he leaves Holy Cross. The characteristics he has exemplified on a daily basis that relate to the Luke Dunivant Award including courage, commitment and sportsmanship, and his focus on always doing the little things right make Gavey a special player that the team will undoubtedly miss next year.