By Anne Bello
Published May 8, 2012 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated May 6, 2012 at 10:42 AM ET

Cambridge, MA — Katie Giovinazzo of Princeton was awarded the 2012 Richey Award.

The Richey Award is given annually to the women’s college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love of and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership. Nominees for the award are evaluated based on their on-court poise and demeanor; skill level and ability; team play; contributions to intercollegiate squash; leadership; and cooperation with players, coaches, and tournament officials.

The award is named for former Vassar head coach Betty Richey, who was one of the founders of the women’s individual national tournament in 1965. A standout field hockey and lacrosse player,  she launched varsity programs in women’s squash, men’s squash, field hockey, men’s tennis, and women’s tennis at Vassar.  A proponent of women’s sports in general, Richey was inducted into the Women’s College Squash Hall of Fame in 1995.

Giovinazzo was singled out by her peers in winning the Richey Award. To be nominated for the award, a coach from another school must put forward a player’s name; teams may not nominate players from their own college or university. The award is decided at the Women’s National Team Championships (Howe Cup), and each team has two votes: one from the coach and one from the captain and players.

Giovinazzo was presented with the Richey Award at the 2012 Women’s National Team Championships (Howe Cup), which were hosted by Harvard University.

Giovinazzo was a national champion by the end of her first year of collegiate play. She played a key role in Princeton’s thrilling 5-4 win over Harvard in the 2009 national championship finals. Playing at Harvard, the Tigers narrowly edged Trinity in the semifinals, and Giovinazzo’s five-game win at #9 helped Princeton secure a berth in the finals. Here is how GoPrincetonTigers.com described Giovinazzo’s performance in the championship final against Harvard:

Freshman Katie Giovinazzo, who has shown composure beyond her years all season, had to reach down deep. Coming off her only five-game match of the season in the semifinal, she won the first two games before dropping the third game 9-7.

“This match was more difficult and had more pressure then the one last week,” Giovinazzo said. “After the third game, I knew I had to go back to basics and use my length to keep her behind me, then go short when I had the opportunity.”

That strategy earned her a match ball at 8-7, but Ali Zindman fought it off and evened the game at 8-8. Proving her resiliency, the Tiger freshman maintained her undefeated record by regaining serve and winning the next points to clinch the match.

The qualities that stood out in Giovinazzo’s play as a first-year — composure, resiliency, a commitment to team — remained constants throughout her career at Princeton. Starting her career at #9, she worked her way up the ladder, playing as high as #2 during her senior season. A captain, Giovinazzo helped lead Princeton to a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Women’s National Team Championships (Howe Cup), and the Tigers never finished the season out of the top five during her time with the team.

2012 Women's National Team Championships (Howe Cup): Richey Award winner Katie Giovinazzo and Gail Ramsay

2012 Women's National Team Championships (Howe Cup): Richey Award winner Katie Giovinazzo and Gail Ramsay

While Giovinazzo’s greatest contributions have been to her team, she is an accomplished individual player. In 2011, she won the Holleran Cup, the women’s B Draw at the Individual Championships.

“Katie is so deserving of this award,” head coach Gail Ramsay told GoPrincetonTigers.com. “She has exhibited great sportsmanship and has been an outstanding leader for her teammates. She represented Princeton with pride and dignity. I was so excited to see her receive this prestigious award from her squash peers and the College Squash Association coaches.”

Giovinazzo is the fourth Princeton player to win the Richey Award, and the first to earn the distinction since Julia Beaver won in 2001.