Night of the Owl goes virtual to honor athletic achievement

Erica Ogwumike and Adolfo Carvalho claimed the top honors during Night of the Owl. (Graphic courtesy of Rice Athletics)

Erica Ogwumike and Adolfo Carvalho claimed the top honors during Night of the Owl. (Graphic courtesy of Rice Athletics)

Rice Athletics capped an unusual year with a celebration to match.

The department turned to Twitter April 28 for its annual Night of the Owl, which honored the top Rice student athletes, coaches and performances of the coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 campaign. Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard and his family got the evening started with a video greeting, and awards were presented by Rice athletes and athletics staff in the same fashion.

Cross country and track and field athlete Adolfo Carvalho and basketball player Erica Ogwumike claimed the night’s biggest awards.

Carvalho, who recently completed his master’s in space studies and will study protoplanetary disks in Chile for nine months thanks to a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, was the 89th winner of the Bob Quin Award for top men’s student athlete. He was an All-Conference USA performer in cross-country while also running distance events in track and field. Carvalho and women’s track and field athlete Zinedine Russell won the Dr. Hubert E. Bray and Margie E. Sass Scholar Athlete of the Year Awards, respectively.

Ogwumike, who is now a member of the Minnesota Lynx after being the 26th pick of the April 17 WNBA draft, was the 45th winner of the Joyce Pounds Hardy Award for top women’s student athlete. She was named C-USA Player of the Year for the second straight season after averaging 19 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while leading the Owls to their second consecutive C-USA regular-season championship. She was also named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America and C-USA All-Academic teams.

Rice volleyball’s Genny Volpe was named Head Coach of the Year. She led the Owls to a 27-4 record and the program’s first NCAA tournament victory in 2019 during a season that included a triumph over the University of Texas at Tudor Fieldhouse.

Rice’s student athletes were recognized as a group for earning their highest cumulative GPA (3.307) ever recorded, which was tallied through the first semester of the 2019-20 academic year.

Owls fans voted for their top moments of the year by including the hashtag #NOTO20 in tweets. The winner for top team moment was the volleyball squad’s victory over UT, and the top individual moment was Bradley Rozner’s three-touchdown game against Middle Tennessee State University.

Relive Night of the Owl at For a complete list of award winners, visit


About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a senior editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.