July 6, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Five Notre Dame student-athletes were among 21 student-athletes named as the recipients of the 2008-09 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards which recognizes academic and athletic achievement as well as community service.
The five senior Irish student-athletes selected were: women's rower Lauren Buck (Flint, Mich.), men's soccer player Matt Besler (Overland Park, Kan.), women's soccer player Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill.), men's tennis player Brett Helgeson (Overland Park, Kan.) and distance specialist Patrick Smyth (Salt Lake City, Utah). Notre Dame's five selections were the most of the 16 conference member institutions, while Cincinnati was second with four honorees.
Buck, Besler, Bock and Smyth all earned ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors and were among eight honorees during the '08-'09 school year. Besler, Bock and Smyth were all first-team selections, while Buck was a third-team honoree. In addition, all four student-athletes were awarded NCAA Postgraduate scholarships, which marked the most in school history in a single academic year.
Bock and Besler also were named as recipients of the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the highest awarded by the University to a graduating student athlete.
Presented for the first time following the 2007-08 school year, the BIG EAST Sport Excellence Awards are given to one student-athlete in each BIG EAST sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community. Student-athletes who attained junior academic standing and a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 are eligible. The BIG EAST faculty athletic representatives selected the award winners.
Buck, a four-year member of the Irish rowing team, served as co-captain in her senior season while leading Notre Dame to its sixth consecutive BIG EAST championship (four during her time as a member of the squad).
A three-time member of the College Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar Team, Buck's varsity eight boat won the gold medal at the BIG EAST Championships in both '07 and '08 and was a member of the crew that finished 12th in the Petite final at the '07 NCAA Championships.
In the classroom, she owns a 3.875 cumulative grade point average while enrolled in a joint degree program within the College of Science and MBA Program. She will graduate in May 2010 with a bachelor's degree in biological science and an MBA. Buck was a member of Notre Dame prestigious Academic Honors Program for Student-Athletes and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
Besler produced a stellar four-year career at Notre Dame that included both first-team All-America and first-team Academic All-America honors following his senior campaign. Besler was named the 2008 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar Athlete of the Year and he also received a postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA.
Besler, a central defender, was selected eighth overall in the first round of last January's Major League Soccer SuperDraft by his home state Kansas City Wizards. That marked the highest a Notre Dame player had ever been taken in the MLS draft. The two-time team captain also earned his third straight all-conference honor in 2008 as he was named to the all-BIG EAST first team. In addition, Besler was one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
For his career, Besler played in 90 games, including 73 starts. He started every match over the past three seasons and only missed one game during his collegiate career. Besler totaled 17 points on five goals and seven assists in an Irish uniform. He helped Notre Dame gain four straight berths to the NCAA Championship, including the program's first two trips to the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2007.
In the classroom, Besler finished with a 3.518 cumulative grade point average and graduated in December with a degree in pre-professional studies and psychology from Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters. Besler was named to the Dean's List in the fall of 2008 after posting a 3.846 semester GPA and was the institutional winner, along with Bock in '08-'09, for a BIG EAST Scholar Athlete award. He received his bachelor's degree in May from the College of Arts and Letters with a degree in pre-professional studies and psychology.
Bock, who played both the midfield and forward positions, was a co-captain for the Irish during her senior campaign in 2008. She helped the squad post an undefeated regular season, win the BIG EAST tournament and make a run to the national title game. Bock played in 22 games, while making 17 starts. She ranked third on the team in scoring with 21 points (6G-9A).
For her efforts, she garnered second-team All-America and first-team all-BIG EAST honors, as well as being a semifinalist for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy. She also earned a spot on the Lowe's Senior CLASS All-America Team. Bock became the 13th Irish player to earn multiple All-America honors in her career, coupling this year's second-team citation with last year's first-team award.
Bock also was a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American (including a first-team honoree this year) while compiling a 3.365 cumulative GPA as a marketing major in Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. She is one of just 12 student-athletes in Notre Dame athletics history (and the second Irish women's soccer player) to garner All-America and Academic All-America honors in the same year on two occasions. Bock was awarded $2,000 towards graduate studies as an institutional winner of the 2008-09 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete award, and also was a member of Notre Dame's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
In January, Bock was selected in the first round (fifth overall pick) of the inaugural Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) draft by the Los Angeles Sol, for whom she has started 14 of 15 matches, registering a pair of goals as Los Angeles has surged to the league's best record at 11-1-4 (37 points) and is poised to clinch the regular-season title and home-field advantage for the WPS championship match on August 22. Bock also was called up to the U.S. National Team in May, but did not appear in the Americans' 4-0 win over Canada in Toronto on May 25.
Helgeson advanced to the round of 32 for the second time in as many seasons at the '09 NCAA Championships and concluded his career with a 69-33 dual season singles record; a 50-18 open season singles record and a 118-51 overall singles record. His 118 wins rank as the sixth-most in program history, while his 69 dual season singles wins rank as the 11th-highest total. Over the past two seasons, Helgeson racked up 29 wins at No. 1 singles, the fifth-most wins at No. 1 singles in the history of the program.
Helgeson was a unanimous selection to the '09 All-BIG EAST team. He was also named to the BIG EAST All-Tournament singles team in '06 and '08, while being named to the All-BIG EAST doubles team in '07 and '08. For his efforts, he was named the BIG EAST Tournament's Most Outstanding Performer in '08 and led the Irish to team conference championships in his sophomore an junior seasons. He was ranked inside the ITA top-50 for the past two seasons and reached as high as 11th on ITA Rankings in his career.
He graduated in May with a degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
Smyth was a seven-time All-American in track and cross country and graduated in May with a degree in history while carrying a 3.75 cumulative grade point average. Smyth represented the Irish in the men's 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, earning his seventh All-America honor with a fourth-place finish. He set a school record with a 10,000-meter time of 28:25.85 at the Stanford Invitational earlier this season.
Smyth also garnered All-America recognition after finishing eighth in the 3,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March and 10th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.
He earned three cross country All-America citations and four track (three outdoor, one indoor) nods during his career. His combined seven All-America honors are the third most in Irish men's track & field/cross country history behind only Ryan Shay (10) and Luke Watson (eight). Smyth also holds three BIG EAST individual titles, including the 2009 outdoor 10,000-meter crown. He also was member of Notre Dame's Student Athlete Advisory Council.
2008-09 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards
Baseball Matthew Singer Seton Hall
Men's Basketball Alex Ruoff West Virginia
Women's Basketball Liz Repella West Virginia
Men's Cross Country Randall King Cincinnati
Women's Cross Country Tarah Cheatham DePaul
Field Hockey Amy Lewis Rutgers
Football Kevin Huber Cincinnati
Men's Golf Cory Blenkush DePaul
Women's Golf Renee Cloutier St. John's
Women's Lacrosse Katie Rowan Syracuse
Women's Rowing Lauren Buck Notre Dame
Men's Soccer Matt Besler Notre Dame
Women's Soccer Brittany Bock Notre Dame
Softball Kim Schweitzer Seton Hall
Men's Swimming & Diving Josh Schneider Cincinnati
Women's Swimming & Diving Elinore de Jong Cincinnati
Men's Tennis Brett Helgeson Notre Dame
Women's Tennis Dunja Antunovic DePaul
Men's Track & Field Patrick Smyth Notre Dame
Women's Track & Field Maggie Infeld Georgetown
Women's Volleyball Jessie Nevitt Cincinnati
-- ND --