The Bruce F. Vanderveer Memorial Trophy

Bruce Finlay Vanderveer | 1913-1932

A great sportsman is a great gentleman and a real Christian. He fights for ideals and he gives life all he has, but he is always generous to his opponents, undisturbed by defeat, unsettled by the bad breaks of the game only if they give him an unfair advantage over his rivals. He takes things as the fates decide.

A great sportsman is so modest that he is never conscious of his qualities. He is bewildered by praise, abashed by compliments. His leadership lies in his native qualities–the things which have come to him through his parents. He is always natural, always playing his hardest because he knows no other way. He never cuts corners; he never thinks of anything except the course he is asked to steer. He sails to victory because he must follow the chart of the Great Skipper.

Arthur S. Draper, editor of the Literary Digest upon the death of Bruce

In the fall of 1929, Bruce Vanderveer entered the Stony Brook School as a junior after attending Riverside Military Academy in Georgia and Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. While at Stony Brook he made a mark in a variety of ways as he starred at center on the football team, garnered Cum Laude honors, and was voted “Most Popular” by his classmates. Res Gestae 1931 had this to say about Vanderveer’s football prowess: “Bud was one of the best centers that Stony Brook has ever seen. He plays a hard, fast game, never letting up once. In the center position he proved to be a very tricky player in that he played both in and out of the line. On the offense he was a cool, steady passer and his loss will be greatly felt next year.”

Upon graduating, Bruce entered Harvard University in the fall of 1931 where he joined the crew team. Despite the fact that he had never pulled an oar, he was elected captain because of his exceptional leadership and determination. A true renaissance man, he was also a master seaman and in 1931 won the Junior Championship of Long Island Sound. A year later he piloted his way to the championship of the Western Long Island Sound Star Fleet which qualified him for a place in the prestigious International Series. On September 19, 1932 he and his Bandit II sailboat won the third race of the Internationals by an incredible eight minutes over the 27 other vessels. His victory was so dominant that the newspaper recounted, “It might well have been said there was no second.” The day after this glorious victory Bruce died in a tragic car accident.

Nobody can say what great victories Bud Vanderveer might have won, if he had lived to play the greater games of life. But nobody who knew him doubted that his life would be in maturity as it was in youth, one of high achievement and fine inspiration.

“To a Sportsman”

Bruce was an exceptional athlete and a brilliant scholar, possessing a personality that drew people to him, but the legacy he left is more than a collection of tackles, grades, and friends. He was the possessor of a sterling character, a true sportsman in victory and defeat, and one who left a deep impression on everyone he met. His lasting influence is aptly expressed in the eulogy given by Reverend William Grime on September 23, 1932:

The secret of his outward triumph lies here. He first of all attended to winning magnificent victories within the depths of his own soul… His heart was pure because he fed it from the springs of a simple and sound religious faith. As he passed from one seat of honor to another, his fearless yet gentle spirit remained true, reverent and fascinatingly modest… To measure the triumphs of his far flung penetrating influence is impossible. However, may I remind us that not only young men reverenced him, but full-grown men drew lasting inspiration from his rugged, sun-crowned soul. They recognized behind his happy eyes a deep, quiet, wise spirit plus a dogged determination that was ever alert for more worlds to conquer. They recognized in him an instinctive noble sportsman always void of bitterness in defeat. Defeat to him was simply a call upon his God-given powers for more skill and courage. Those of us who had the privilege of calling him friend, are now like people standing near the foot of some towering mountain. We cannot see it all. Neither can we see now, all that he has achieved.

To this day Bruce is honored by two awards bearing his name. Each year at Stony Brook’s Class Night, the Bruce F. Vanderveer Memorial Trophy is awarded. From 1933-2015 it went to a member of the football team who showed the highest qualities of sportsmanship, but in 2018 the criteria was expanded to allow athletes from any team the ability to win the program’s highest award.  Harvard University also awards a trophy in honor of Bruce to the outstanding member on the freshman crew team. Bruce Vanderveer was a man of integrity and honor, and though his life ended prematurely, his character was fully ripened and still stands as a measure of what each Stony Brook man and woman should strive for.

An oar presented in memory of Bruce by his parents hangs in the Swanson conference room

Bruce F. Vanderveer Memorial Trophy Recipients

1933Charles Bixler1934John Gilmartin
1935Alfred Van Ranst1936John Krull
1937Lionel Willett1938Harry Neber
1939Robert Boehm1940Norman Wiedersum
1941Edwin Ludwig1942Harold Presada
1943Robert Wylie1944Caleb Sniffin
1945Donald Walker1946John Buyers
1947Lynn Osbourne1948Kendall Haf
1949Kendall Haff1950Henry Evers
1951Arnold Trygsland1952Peter Schmauss
1953John Provan1954William Strong
1955John Green1956William Peirce
1957John Weber1958Alfred McKegg
1959Richard Green1960Richard Duffy
1961David Cloos1962John Clark
1963Douglas Wedel1964Eugene Lyman
1965Kent Picken1966Paul Cash
1967James McRae & Jon Malkmes
1969David Stevens1970Mark Cutbirth
1971Ken Berg1972James Andrews
1973Douglas Korber1974Scott Wruck
1975Daniel McNeill1976Gordon Taylor
1977Will Harrison1978Erik Fritjofson
1979Peter Leftheris1980Charles Fields
1981Louis Peraertz1982Tim Kennedy
1983Peter Hensley1984Seth Cohen
1985Jeff Newton1986Daniel Weiss
1987Aaron Cooper1988Jordan Nixon
1989Brian Stemple1990Cameron Thiessen
1991Jonathan Schwartz1992Jeremy Linzee
1993Nathan Carlson1994Jonas Fischer
1995Matt Mattimore1996Joel Caldon
1997Derek Kenney1998Ushinde Payne
1999Anthony Passalacqua2000A. J. Talboo
2001Ben Pinder2002Stephen De St. Aubin
2003Jharod Lashley2004Ryan Mealey
2005Cliff Seaman2006Chris Myrtil
2007Terrance Anderson2008Tshepo Malete
2009Tshepo Malete2010Lesedi Malete
2011Wyatt Piazza2012Wyatt Piazza
2013Marco Masakayan2014Tyler Hoegsberg
2015Erik Holvik2018Jai Narain
2019Riley Corcoran2021Jaden Lee

The 1937 Vanderveer Trophy

“He was too big to leave just a memory.  There seems a part of him still here.”

“Bud was without a doubt one of the finest boys I’ve ever known.”

“A finer lad from every standpoint was never in my classroom.”

“He was a gentleman at all times, a perfect sportsman.”

“I have built around him, in my mind, an ideal or a model upon which I would wish a son of my own to be formed.”

“I never heard a word said against Bud.  It would be superfluous to say more of him.”

“Bud was a prince among fellows, and I count his friendship as one of the greatest privileges of my life.”

“A finer man never went to his God.”

Excerpts from letters sent to Bruce’s parents after his death


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