Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Sports Writing Scholarship

McGrath & Meisel Awarded 2013 Russell-Rice TRA Scholarship

Thomas McGrath and Caroline Meisel will enter the freshman class at Vanderbilt University as the 2013 co-recipients of the 55th Fred Russell-Grantland Rice TRA Scholarship for sports writing, it was announced by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA).

McGrath, a graduate of The Hopkins School in New Haven, Ct., and Meisel, a graduate of The Potomac School in McLean, Va., were selected from a near-record 174 applicants for this year’s scholarship in the amount of $20,000 per year for four years each at Vanderbilt.

Named in honor of two legendary sports writing alumni of Vanderbilt, the scholarship has an extraordinary record of producing prominent and successful writers and television personalities, including Roy Blount, Jr., Bill Livingston, Skip Bayless, John (Joe Bob Briggs) Bloom, David Sheinin, Tyler Kepner, Lee Jenkins, and Daniel Wolken.

McGrath was actively involved in his school’s newspaper, The Razor, serving as assistant entertainment editor and assistant sports editor. He served as Director of Content for the Crispus Attucks Clothing and Lifestyle Blog, writing and shaping content for the summer lifestyle blog targeting students at the country’s top colleges and prep schools. He has been a volunteer at the Connecticut Food Bank and also founded Captain’s Practice, LLC, a service that provided local families with an alternative to higher-priced private sports lessons and academic tutoring.

He was point guard for four years on his school’s basketball team and was named captain of the varsity squad as a senior. He also was second baseman on the baseball team, which recently won its league’s regular season title and tournament.

Meisel has written for her school newspaper, The Current, for three years and served as its sports editor during her senior year. She has served as a senior writing tutor and was a member of her school’s Senior Athletic Committee. As a competitor, she was a highly ranked junior tennis player in the Mid-Atlantic region and worked as an assistant tennis professional during her summer breaks. She has been active in many community service projects, most notably serving as a volunteer teacher at The Red Rose School in Nairobi, Kenya, for three weeks in 2012.

She will be a Communications major with a minor in Psychology and would like to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. She is one of only 20 first-year students to be accepted into Vanderbilt’s Media Immersion Program, which focuses on the study of media in relation to television.

The scholarship winners, selected by a panel chaired by Oaklawn Park President Charles J. Cella, have distinguished themselves not just in sports writing and broadcasting, but in other fields as well.

The scholarship honors Vanderbilt alumni Grantland Rice and Fred Russell, two of the greatest sports writers of all time. Initially, the scholarship was created in 1956 to honor Grantland Rice, the dean of American sports writing, who died in 1954. The scholarship received a funding endowment from Mr. Cella on behalf of the TRA in 1986, and its name was amended to include the late Fred Russell, the famed Nashville Banner sports columnist for 69 years and a mentor to many of the scholarship winners.

The four-year scholarship is co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the TRA and is awarded to an outstanding high school senior with special interest and potential in the field of sports writing. The TRA represents 48 member racing associations conducting Thoroughbred racing at 41 racetracks in North America.

Prior winners of the scholarship were:


1956   Charles Nord, Nashville, Tenn.
1957   Thomas Templin, Lexington, Ky.
1958   Larry Daughtrey, Nashville, Tenn.
1959   Roy A. Blount, Mill River, Mass.
1960   Saxon K. Chapin, Atlanta, Ga.
1961   Thomas D.Quinn, South America
1962   Robert E. Theil, Millbrae, Calif.
1963   Richard S. Osborne, Sharon, Pa.
1964   Leonard Goldstein, Miami, Fla.
1965   Michael Kierman, Arlington, Va.
1966   William Livingston, Voorhees, N.J.
1967   Barry (Mackie) Morris, Columbia, Mo.
1968   Dennis P. McAuliffe
1969   David R. Rapp, Nashville, Tenn.
1970   Skip Bayless, Dallas, Tex.
1971   John I. Bloom, Dallas, Tex.
1972   Irving Muchnick, New York, N.Y.
1973   Kevin Cuneo, Erie, Pa.
1974   Kevin McDonald, Silang, Cavite Phillipines
1975   David Brooks, Teaneck, N.J.
1976   Michael L. Jackson, Laconia, N.H.
1977   Edward O. Wilson, Greenwich, Conn.
1978   Charles Euchner, Huntington, NY
1979   Kenneth C. Ray, Boise, Idaho
1980   Zachary V. Wenger, Eagle River, Aka (81-82)
           Andrew Byer, Columbia Blauvelt, N.Y. (83-84)
1981  C. Richard Bush, Lenoir, N.C.
1982  Mike D. Cornwell, Carlsbad, N.M.
1983  Tena B. Robinson, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
1984  Thomas Wilson, Troy, Ohio (85-86)
         Chuck Manson, Florence, Ala. (87-88)
1985  Paul J. Richman, Hacienda Heights, Calif.
1986   Michael Holmes, Haverville, Mass.
1987   David Shenin, Carrollton, Ga.
1988   Andrew Maraniss, Austin, Tex.
1989   Mitchell Light, New Providence, N.J.
1990   Clay Hensley, Cleveland, Tenn.
1991   Matthew O'Keefe, Wilmington, Del.
1992   Andrew M. Derr, Braddock Heights, Md.
1993   Tyler Kepner, Gwynedd Valley, Pa.
1994   Allan Owen, Klein, Tex.
1995   Lee Jenkins, La Jolla, Cal.
1996   Not Awarded
1997   Daniel J. Wolken, Hot Springs, Ark.
1998   Samuel Heide, Birmingham, Ala.
1999   Jeffery D. Lowe, Dallas, Texas
2000   Matthew J. Meenan, McLean, Virginia
2001   Robert C. Murray III, Brentwood, Tenn.
2002   Byron P. Dubow, Alphretta, Ga.
2003   Matthew McDavid, Bethesda, Md.
2004  Christopher Fielding, Atlanta, Ga.
2005  Not Awarded
2006  Not Awarded
2007  David Aaron Namm, Clearwater, Fla.
2008  Meghan Rose, Towson, Md.
2009  Eric Single, Marietta, Ga.
2010  Jack Kuhlenschmidt, Los Angeles, Calif. &
         Jackson Martin, Atlanta, Ga.
2011  Matthew Citak, Riverdale, N.Y. &
         Anthony Tripodoro, Mineola, N.Y
2012  Adam Birnbaum, Weston, Fla.
         Nathaniel Heagney, St. Louis, Mo. 
         Ben Weinrib, Charlotte, N.C.
2013  Thomas McGrath, New Haven, Ct.
         Caroline Meisel, McLean, Va.