Pacific student-athletes chosen as national finalists for Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup

Clara Vulpisi and Avery Whipple

Clara Vulpisi and Avery Whipple

Women’s water polo goalie Clara Vulpisi ’23 and men’s soccer player Avery Whipple ’23 are among 26 student-athletes from across the country chosen as finalists for the 2023 Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, joining students from schools such as Princeton and Yale University.

The award presented by Athletes for a Better World recognizes athletes for excellence in their sport and exceptional character.

Vulpisi is the starting goalie for the women's water polo team. She was named to the Golden Coast Conference All-Conference First-Team and received All-Academic honors in 2022. The political science major has a 3.79 grade point average and played for Canada in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

She is also a second-term president of the Pacific Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and serves as a student-athlete representative for the West Coast Conference.

"I'm so proud of Clara. It's an amazing accomplishment to be a finalist for such a prestigious award," said Pacific's Head Water Polo Coach James Graham. "Her success in the pool speaks volumes, but it is her actions outside the pool that showcase her dedication to making the world a better place. Humility aside, Clara is very deserving of this honor."

Whipple is a senior student-athlete studying biological sciences with a 3.98 grade point average. He is a recipient of the Pacific Powell Scholarship, the most prestigious academic scholarship awarded by the university, and an undergraduate research assistant. Whipple is a starting midfielder for the men's soccer team and was named to the 2022 West Coast Conference All-Academic Team.

He is an executive board member of the Pacific Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and participated in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in the summer of 2022. Whipple participates in multiple other research projects on campus and plays an active role in many other organizations on and off campus, including tutoring and volunteering at animal shelters.

"Avery encapsulates everything Athletes for a Better World stands for," said Adam Reeves, head coach of Pacific's men's soccer team. "Although Avery has developed into a weekly starter for us, this by no means defines who Avery is wholistically. It is clear to all that he is an outstanding individual with the highest integrity." 

The award is named for renowned UCLA basketball coach John Wooden who won 10 NCAA national championships in the 1960s and 70s and was admired as an inspirational leader and role model. 

Winners will be announced in early January.