2019 Model Rams Announced at Varsity Banquet


Photo by Grayson McCord

Seniors Matthew DiFonzo and Briana O’Neil pose with their plaques after winning the Model Rams awards for the class of 2019.

Nathan Pianalto, Sports Managing Editor

Seniors Briana O’Neil and Matthew DiFonzo were awarded the 2019 BJ Thomson Model Ram award at the varsity sports banquet May 23. The award is granted to one male and one female student who contribute extraordinary service to the community while demonstrating merit in academics, athletics and leadership.

This year, there were 10 male nominees and 11 female nominees, each nominated by one of their coaches. The winner is selected by Booster Club members based on a point system with categories in academic excellence, community involvement and sportsmanship. The members award points to each nominee based on their transcripts and an essay, without knowing each student’s name, to determine the winner.

Along with recognition at the ceremony, winners receive a $1,000 scholarship to go toward college expenses.

O’Neil, the female winner, was nominated by varsity girls tennis coach Robert Stohlman. As a captain for the team, O’Neil has seized the opportunity to practice great leadership qualities.

“I always tried really hard to get others to become involved at Rockville whether through sports or clubs, and I hope that does influence some people,” O’Neil said. “To be a good role model, I show others the impact that their actions can have.”

Along with being a successful tennis player, O’Neil was the president of the Best Buddies Club, an ambassador, and a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), Echoes and Key Club. While being involved in many clubs and extracurriculars, O’Neil also maintained a 4.74 weighted GPA and earned 554 student service learning (SSL) hours.

“[Briana] showed a lot of dedication to both Best Buddies and tennis, and was able to balance all of her responsibilities as a leader along with being an IB full diploma student, which shows that she’s really passionate about everything she does,” junior tennis teammate Emma Clark said.

O’Neil will be attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where she will major in psychology and continue to follow her passion for working with special education students.

DiFonzo, the male winner, was nominated by Coach of the Year Raymond Trail. DiFonzo was a three sport varsity athlete for his junior and senior years, participating in varsity boys soccer, basketball and boys and co-ed volleyball.

DiFonzo will be attending University of Maryland, College Park, where he will go in undecided.

DiFonzo reflected on what it means to win this award, after making it his goal to win since freshman year, he said.

“This award means a lot to me,” DiFonzo said. “My cousin Kelly DiFonzo (‘18) won the previous year, and for me to carry on the DiFonzo family legacy and cement my name into the books of RHS forever means so much.”

Over the years of playing basketball for RHS, DiFonzo found his own role model teammate David Robbins (‘17), who motivated him to never give up. (Robbins battled cancer and passed in November 2017, leaving a lasting imprint on the RHS community).

“David Robbins in particular was one person that I learned from and strived to be like,” DiFonzo said. “His leadership qualities and love for the game that he had set the path for me in filling his shoes.”

While DiFonzo played five different varsity sports in his career at RHS, he also was an NHS member, an ambassador and Rampage Sports Managing Editor while maintaining a 4.1 weighted GPA with 279 SSL hours.

“I believe that playing three sports each year benefitted me and kept me occupied and determined to get through each and every day,” DiFonzo said. “The determination and mindset I had towards sports was transitioned directly into the classroom for me.”