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Pruzinsky's Honors Continue To Grow, As NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Recipient

March 16, 2004

Notre Dame women’s soccer defensive standout Vanessa Pruzinsky (Trumbull, Conn.) – a fifth-year defender and former finalist for national player-of the-year honors who graduated in May 2003 with a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average as a chemical engineering major – has been selected to receive a $7,500 postgraduate scholarship, as part of the NCAA’s Postgraduate Scholarship Program.

Pruzinsky was one of 58 total scholarship recipients (29 male, 29 female) who participated in NCAA fall sports on the Division I, II or III level. The female recipients include 17 Division I student-athletes and 10 total soccer players, among them fellow Division I players Prue Cormie (VCU), Imani Dorsey (Portland), Jocelyn Dumaresq (Seton Hall) , Joanna Lohman (Penn State), Allison Mitchell (Clemson), Meghan Ramsey (Lafayette) and Jordan Walker (North Carolina). Pruzinsky and Dumaresq give the BIG EAST Conference two recipients from its women’s soccer programs, (matching the Atlantic Coast Conference, with recipients from Clemson and UNC).

For a complete listing of the NCAA postgraduate scholarship honorees from 2003 fall women’s sports, see the below link:

Notre Dame student-athletes now have combined to receive 37 NCAA postgraduate scholarships (full list below), including eight in the last eight years. Pruzinsky joins goalkeeper Jen Renola (’97) and forward Jenny Streiffer (’00) as the third Notre Dame women’s soccer player to receive the honor, with only the Irish football (16) and men’s fencing (4) teams producing more recipients. Notre Dame’s all-time NCAA postgraduate scholarship honorees come from 13 different sports, the above three plus: men’s basketball (3), men’s track and field (3), softball, women’s basketball, women’s tennis, volleyball, women’s fencing, wrestling, women’s swimming and hockey.

Pruzinsky – who recently began working as a chemical engineer for Merck Pharmaceuticals in Rahway, N.J. – is Notre Dame’s first recipient of an NCAA postgraduate scholarship since women’s basketball center Ruth Riley and softball pitcher Jen Sharron were so honored in 2001.

Pruzinsky earlier was named the 2003-04 BIG EAST/A?ropostale Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and will receive a $4,000 stipend with that award, applicable to graduate studies. She also has been honored by the College Sports Information Directors of America as the women’s soccer Academic All-American of the Year in 2003 and is a finalist for the overall CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year Award.

She was one of eight finalists for the Socrates Award, a national student-athlete program recognizing those who best exemplify excellence in athletics and academics (six of the finalists were football players). Pruzinsky earlier received the Notre Dame College of Engineering’s prestigious Steiner Prize (May, 2003), recognizing all-around excellence. She was a finalist for the 2001 Missouri Athletic Club national player-of-the-year award and returned in 2003 from a severe ankle injury that sidelined her for most of the 2002 season.

Pruzinsky also is being considered for the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship (a $25,000 stipend) and will be nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award later this year. She helped the Irish compile an 82-12-4 record during her four healthy seasons (.857).

To qualify for an NCAA postgraduate scholarship, a student-athlete must have an overall grade-point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) or its equivalent and must have performed with distinction as a member of the varsity team in the sport which the student-athlete was nominated. The student-athlete must have behaved, both on and off the field, in a manner that has brought credit to the student-athlete, the institution and intercollegiate athletics. The student-athlete also must intend to continue academic work beyond the baccalaureate degree as a full-time or part-time graduate student. Student-athletes are nominated by the school’s faculty athletics representatives. Candidates are screened by regional selection committees and the winners are selected by the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee.

(Note: to view the Nov. 17 article on Pruzinsky that appeared in Sports Illustrated, clink on the enclosed link for a scan of the full-page feature … also see the below links for other articles on Pruzinsky):

A final biography on Pruzinsky follows below:

Vanessa Pruzinsky (Notre Dame women’s soccer, 5th-year senior defender in 2003; Trumbull, Conn.; 4.00 GPA as chemical engineering major)

Academic Achievements: Received postgraduate stipends from the NCAA ($7,500) and the BIG EAST Conference ($5,000, as BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year) … one of 29 female student-athletes from 2003 fall sports (from Div. I-III) to receive NCAA postgraduate scholarship (also one of 17 from Div. 1 , one of 10 total soccer players and one of eight Div. I soccer players) … 37th Notre Dame student-athlete to receive NCAA postgraduate scholarship, joining goalkeeper Jen Renola (’97) and forward Jenny Streiffer (’00) as third ND women’s soccer player to receive the honor, with only the Irish football (16) and men’s fencing (4) teams producing more recipients … ND’s first recipient of an NCAA postgraduate scholarship since women’s basketball center Ruth Riley and softball pitcher Jen Sharron were so honored in 2001 … sixth ND student-athlete to receive the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in the last nine years (as were Renola and Streiffer) … 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 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.

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).


Year – Name (Sport)

1966 – Ed Dean (Track)

1967 – Fred Schnurr (Football)

1967 – Jack Haynes (Fencing)

1968 – Jim Smithberger (Football)

1968 – Mike Daher (Fencing)

1969 – Bob Arnzen (Basketball)

1969 – George Kunz (Football)

1969 – Bill Hurd (Track)

1970 – Mike Oriard (Football)

1971 – Larry DiNardo (Football)

1972 – Tom Gatewood (Football)

1973 – Greg Marx (Football)

1974 – Dave Casper (Football)

1974 – Gary Novak (Basketball)

1975 – Pete Demmerle (Football)

1975 – Reggie Barnett (Football)

1975 – Paul Angelo (Fencing)

1979 – Joe Restic (Football)

1980 – Tom Gibbons (Football)

1980 – Greg Meredith (Hockey)

1981 – John Krimm (Football)

1982 – Jeannine Blatt (Swimming)

1983 – John Paxson (Basketball)

1983 – Steve Dziabis (Track)

1985 – Greg Dingens (Football)

1986 – John Krug (Wrestling)

1988 – Reggie Ho (Football)

1992 – Heidi Piper (Fencing)

1993 – Tim Ruddy (Football)

1997 – Jeremy Siek (Fencing)

1997 – Jen Renola (Soccer)

1998 – Jaimie Lee (Volleyball)

1999 – Jennifer Hall (Tennis)

2000 – Jenny Streiffer (Soccer)

2001 – Ruth Riley (Basketball)

2001 – Jen Sharron (Softball)

2004 – Vanessa Pruzinsky (Soccer)