Dec. 24, 2003
- Sports Illustrated Article
If online voters have their way, Notre Dame women’s soccer star Vanessa Pruzinsky (Trumbull, Conn.) could become the first non-football player to receive the Socrates Award, a national student-athlete program sponsored by Sporting News Radio (official radio partner of the March of Dimes National Athletic Awards). The fifth annual award is presented to the college student-athlete who best exemplifies excellence in athletics and academics – “A strong mind in a strong body.”
Pruzinsky – a fifth-year defender and former finalist for national player-of the-year honors who graduated last May with a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average as a chemical engineering major – is one of eight finalists for the Socrates Award but currently is dominating the online fan voting (at www.socratesaward.com), which will play a role in deciding the recipient of the 2004 award. There still is time for Notre Dame supporters to cast their vote for Pruzinsky, with Dec. 28 being the last day for the online balloting. The site also includes information about the award and the eight 2004 finalists, who were nominated by Sporting News Radio and sports information directors from around the country.
Pruzinsky currently owns more than half of the online voting (51%), with Iowa placekicker Nate Kaeding a distant second (20%) while Mississippi quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Eli Manning is third with 12% of the vote. The only other non-football player among the eight finalists, UNC women’s soccer player Jordan Walker, has just 5% of the vote.
(Note: to view the Nov. 17 article on Pruzinsky that appeared in Sports Illustrated, please clink on the enclosed link for a scan of the full-page feature … also see the below links for other articles on Pruzinsky):
The award will be presented at the 16th Annual March of Dimes National Athletic Awards, to be held March 16 at the historic Fox Theater in Detroit. Criteria for selection include student-athletes who have shown themselves to be leaders and quality contributors in their sport, outstanding students and quality citizens.
In addition to the above student-athletes, the other Socrates Award finalists include TCU’s Nick Browne, Yale’s Alvin Cowan, LSU’s Rodney Reed and Purdue’s John Standeford (each is a football player).
The four previous recipients were Division I football players: Purdue quarterback Drew Brees (2000), Minnesota center Ben Hamilton (’01), Virginia Tech receiver Andre Davis (’02) and Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel (’02).
Pruzinsky graduated last May with a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average as a chemical engineering major.
Sporting News Radio’s James Brown will return to emcee the 2004 National Athletic Awards ceremony, which again will be televised to millions of viewers across the country. For information on the event, call (248) 359-1550, or write to March of Dimes, Southeast Michigan Chapter, 27600 Northwestern Hwy, Suite 150, Southfield, MI 48034.
Pruzinsky recently was named the Academic All-American of the Year for Division I women’s soccer, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
An updated biography on Pruzinsky follows below, as do website links for articles on the high achiever:
Vanessa Pruzinsky (Notre Dame women’s soccer, 5th-year senior defender in 2003; Trumbull, Conn.; 4.00 GPA as chemical engineering major)
Pruzinsky and another 2003 player – Penn State senior midfielder/forward Joanna Lohman – are the first players in Division I women’s soccer history to be named first team Academic All-America three times.
Academic Achievements: Named 2003 CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for Division I women’s soccer, as one of three ND players named to Academic All-America squad (an unprecedented feat) … sixth ND student-athlete – third in the last three years – to receive top Academic All-America award for specific sport (or combined program), joining soccer G Jen Renola (’96 season; selected in former fall/winter at-large program), football C Tim Ruddy (’93), men’s basketball F Pat Garrity (’98), women’s basketball C Ruth Riley (’01) and softball C Jarrah Myers (’02) … selected for national award over six other women’s soccer players with 4.0-plus GPAs … among favorites to receive nation’s top award: the Academic All-American of the Year (for all sports), won by Riley when she was selected over Duke basketball player Shane Battier, among others … part of ND women’s soccer program that has produced 13 Academic All-America awards in past 10 years (nearly double the second team on that list, UNC with seven) … joined Penn State M/F Joanna Lohman as first players in Division I women’s soccer history to be named first team Academic All-America three times (also ’00 and ’02, injured in ’02) … just two previous players had earned three Academic All-America awards: Florida’s Erin Baxter (2nd team ’97, 1st team ’98, ’99) and Montana’s Courtney Mathieson (2nd team ’96, ’98, 1st team ’97) … joined former basketball great Bob Arnzen (’67, ’68, ’69) as ND’s only three-time Academic All-Americans .. they also hold distinction as ND’s only student-athletes to be named first team Academic All-America as sophomores and juniors (freshmen are not eligible) … being nominated for prestigious national awards such as the NCAA’s Top Eight Award, Woman of the Year Award and Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship … graduated in May, 2003, with a 4.0 cumulative GPA as a chemical engineering major … just the third chemical engineering major (first since ’74) to graduate from ND with a 4.0 and currently enrolled in chemical engineering master’s program, taking courses in biochemistry, molecular biophysics and mechanical chemistry … first female student ever to receive an “A” grade in ND’s introduction to chemical engineering course … received the engineering department’s prestigious Steiner Prize (recognizing all-around excellence) … one of three 4.0 graduates in ND’s entire class of 2003.
Pruzinsky was a member of the U.S. Under-21 National Team player pool and a finalist for the 2001 Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year Award.
Athletic Achievements: Former member of U.S. Under-21 National Team player pool and a finalist for the 2001 Missouri Athletic Club National Player of the Year Award … two-time NSCAA all-region performer (’00, ’02) … her other career honors include all-BIG EAST first (’01) and second (’02) team, BIG EAST rookie of the year (’99) and five-time BIG EAST defensive player of the week … key member of 2003 defense that posted 10-game shutout streak (5th in NCAA history), went 16 consecutive games without a deficit (ND record), completed streak of 24 consecutive games without allowing multiple goals (tying ND record) and logged 16 consecutive games with 1-3 shots on goal from the opponent (also holding 20 of final 21 to 1-3 SOG) – plus allowing just 116 shots/53 shots on goal (per-game averages of 4.8 opponent shots and 2.2 shots on goal) … second-year team captain … her 96 career games played rank 11th in ND history while her 94 starts rank 9th in the ND record and 3rd among defenders (behind Jen Grubb’s 100 and Kate Sobrero’s 97) … named 2002 preseason BIG EAST defensive player of the year (prior to injury) … member of four regular-season BIG EAST champs (’99-’01, ’03), three BIG EAST Tournament champs (’99-’01), the 1999 NCAA runner-up squad and the top-ranked 2000 team that advanced to the NCAA semifinals … helped Irish compile an 82-12-4 record during her four healthy seasons (.857), with ND going just 13-8 in 2002 (when she was sidelined with nagging ankle injury) … played central role for 2003 team that started 18-0-1, ranked as high as second in national polls and posted the program’s eighth 20-win season (20-3-1) … the ’03 Irish also ranked near the top of the national leaders in scoring (3rd, 3.04 goals/gm) and goals-against average (5th, 0.49; 3rd in ND history) while trailing in just four of 23 games during the ’03 season.
Miscellaneous: Actively involved in athletic department’s Student Development Program, with activities including annual student-athlete Christmas Party and bowling nights with children from St. Joseph’s Hospital pediatric oncology wards – plus the women’s soccer program’s team project as part of the Tour for Lance campaign that raises funding for cancer research … four-year member of the athletic department’s Academic Honors Program, which pairs high achievers with faculty mentors … also received certificate for participation in the athletic department’s Leadership Institute … volunteered during summer of ’03 at South Bend’s Logan Center, working primarily with the elderly and Downs Syndrome children … served a 2002 summer internship at Wisvest LLC (working with reverse osmosis systems and the chemical cleaning procedure for circulation boilers) … also was a 2003 summer research assistant at ND’s biochemistry engineering lab, preparing cultured hepatocyte cells and working with UV absorption spectroscopy … has been featured this year by College Sports Television, Sports Illustrated (Nov. 17) and Sports Illustrated On Campus, plus a feature by the South Bend Tribune’s award-winning news columnist Bill Moor (among others).