May 6, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame prides itself on recruiting high-caliber athletes; students who possess more than exceptional talent on the field, individuals who strive to contribute more to their campus community. On April 1, two such individuals were honored at the Student Leadership Awards Banquet held by the Student Affairs Office, as women’s soccer captain Elizabeth Tucker was awarded the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, while men’s fencer – and student body president – Alex Coccia was honored with the Rev. A Leonard Collins Award.
Tucker’s award is given to a graduating senior who exemplifies the qualities for which former Notre Dame Trustee Ray Siegfried, Class of 1965, was known; these qualities include leadership, generosity, devotion to the Catholic faith and an affinity for athletics. Coccia’s award honors a graduating senior who has made substantial personal efforts to advance the interests of students at Notre Dame.
The award is just the latest for Tucker, as she won the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the Notre Dame Athletics Community Champion Award, the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award and the Top Gun Award at last week’s O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements & Recognition Showcase) Ceremony – a sweep of all four major awards given throughout the showcase.
Tucker was a two-time team captain and two-time Capital One First Team Academic All-American. She helped her team to four consecutive NCAA Championship berths throughout her four-year career, highlighted by the 2010 National Championship season. Tucker played in all 92 games of her Irish career, earning 87 starts and scoring 19 goals while also dishing off 14 assists.
Off the field, Tucker has been highly involved with many local, regional, and even national community service initiatives. She is active in several campus groups – both in and outside the athletics department – and has never shied away from a leadership role.
She was responsible for spearheading her team’s involvement in the Fighting Irish Fight For Life program, which pairs Fighting Irish teams and student-athletes with patients in the pediatric Hematology/Oncology unit at South Bend’s Memorial Hospital to provide support and friendship to patients and their families throughout their cancer treatments. Tucker has also worked with the Adopt-a-Family, Ronald McDonald House, Pediatric Christmas Party and Perley Elementary Tutor programs. She enjoys taking part in meet-and-greet events at local area middle schools in addition to volunteering at soccer clinics throughout the South Bend area (most notably with the Michiana Special Olympians).
Tying in with her major of accountancy, Tucker also assists with the Notre Dame Vivian Harrington Gray Tax Assistance Program, helping low-income and disabled South Bend residents with their taxes. What’s more, she has served as a teaching assistant in two courses at Notre Dame’s top-ranked Mendoza College of Business – Managerial Economics, and Information Technology Management. Tucker has maintained a perfect 4.000 grade-point average, and has been a seven-time member of the University’s Dean’s List. She recently earned both NCAA and ACC postgraduate scholarships.
Coccia is a four-year member of the Irish fencing program who competed on the men’s sabre squad. As student body president, he ran on a platform that focused on promoting the passions and interests of all students, including those who feel marginalized. A Truman Scholar and member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, Coccia has worked to serve his peers and improve the campus atmosphere on a variety of issues, most notably increasing awareness and support for students who identify as LGBTQ, as well as students who are undocumented citizens and students who have been impacted by sexual violence.
Coccia’s career record with the Irish is 74-63, and while he has competed very little the past two seasons, his veteran presence and experience has helped to shape the sabre program moving forward. He finished sixth at the Midwest Fencing Conference (MFC) Championships in 2012 and eighth in both 2011 and 2014, thrice earning second-team All-MFC honors.
In the summer of 2011, after his freshman season with the team, Coccia traveled to Uganda in East Africa to teach the sport of fencing to those less fortunate – a service mission that perfectly complemented his intended Africana studies major.
In addition to the African service trip, Coccia served as a three-year FIRE starter peer educator in the Gender Relations Center, and was involved with numerous Student Affairs committees, including the Progressive Student Alliance (of which he was president); the Call to Action Committee (served as a steering committee member); the 4 to 5 Movement (founder), and was a key collaborator in the creation of “Beloved Friends and Allies: A Pastoral Plan for the Holistic Development and Support of LBGTQ Students and Heterosexual Students at Notre Dame.”
~ Lizzie Mikes
Media Services Coordinator