INDIANAPOLIS – Milwaukee track and field student-athlete Brett Pozolinski (Kimberly, Wis./Kimberly) and Detroit women’s soccer player Sara Zawacki (Dearborn, Mich./Marian) have been named the recipients of the Horizon League’s 2015-16 Cecil N. Coleman Medal of Honor.
The Horizon League’s highest individual honor, the Coleman Medal of Honor is presented annually to the League’s top male and female student-athletes who best exemplify the dignity and high purpose of the League and its membership. The individuals demonstrate outstanding achievement in academics, athletics and extracurricular activities. Candidates must be seniors who have exhausted their eligibility and were participants on the varsity level in a League-sponsored sport. In addition, nominees must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, or its equivalent.
This is the second-straight year a Detroit student-athlete is awarded the honor as Zawacki follows Matt Ybarra of the Titans men’s soccer program.
“It’s been a privilege to compete as a Horizon League student-athlete the past few years and I am extremely honored to be named a recipient of the Coleman Medal of Honor Award,” Zawacki said. “The Horizon League and Detroit Mercy provided me with tremendous opportunities that allowed me to grow as an individual and realize the importance of being a part of something greater than myself. I am more than grateful for the coaches, teammates and mentors that helped me along the way.”
On the field for the Titans, Zawacki started in 13 of 16 appearances for Detroit this past season while scoring two goals and tallying an assist. The senior was a member of the women’s soccer teams that reached Horizon League Championship semifinals in three of the past four seasons and a runner-up performance in 2014. Over Zawacki’s four years at Detroit, she posted 36 wins and a 26-6-2 record at home. In addition, Zawacki finished her career with 22 starts in 53 games played, with 16 points (six goals, four assists), including a game-winner versus Oakland in the League semifinals in 2014.
“As a coach and a staff, we’re very proud of everything Sara has been able to accomplish,” said head women’s soccer coach Mike Lupenec. “The award is well deserved and is going to a high-character individual who not only excels at the highest level of athletics, but in the classroom and in the community as well. She is such a well-rounded person, we are not surprised to see her reach the levels of greatness she has and are excited about her bright future.”
Zawacki was named the Valedictorian of the 2016 class as she graduated with a 3.98 grade point average in nursing. The senior was the recipient of the Leadership Medallion, Catherine McAuley Award and Dean Scholar Award. Zawacki also was a member of the Horizon League Honor Roll, UDM Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the League’s Fall All-Academic Team in 2014. The women’s soccer team additionally received a NSCAA Team Academic Award and was No. 4 in the nation.
When not of the field or in the classroom, Zawacki gave her time to the Detroit community and was the recipient of the Ford Community Corps Partnership Grant for her role with Rx for Reading. The senior collected a Community Service Award for her time spent “Warming Up Detroit” by providing coats for the homeless and “Give Cancer a Boot” working with the Leukemia Research Foundation. Zawacki was also honored with several awards at the Detroit Honors Convocation for organizational leadership and community service.
Pozolinski becomes the ninth Panther all-time to receive the Coleman Award and the seventh male recipient.
“It is an honor to receive an award that only a few UWM student-athletes have received,” Pozolinski said. “Although athletics has taught me many lessons, it is great that this award sheds light on not only athletics, but academic and extracurricular activities. I would like to thank my coaches, academic advisors, athletic trainers, and professors for their dedication to UWM and giving student-athletes like myself the opportunity to become well-rounded individuals.”
Pozolinski graduated summa cum laude from Milwaukee with a 3.897 GPA as a kinesiology major. The senior was a three-time Golden Key Club nominee and was a member of the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll. This past year, Pozolinski was named the 2015-16 Male Senior Student-Athlete of the Year.
As a member of the track and field team for the Panthers, Pozolinski earned First Team All-America in the high jump as he tied for fifth at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships. The senior was named the 2016 Horizon League Indoor Field Athlete of the Meet. At the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships, he placed 10th and garnered Second Team All-America honors. Pozolinski is a two-time Horizon League indoor high jump champion (2014, 2016) and holds the school records in both indoor and outdoor high jump at Milwaukee.
“Hats off to Brett’s magnificent season and career as a student-athlete at UWM,” Milwaukee head track and field coach Pete Corfeld said. “This is a great finish to a dream season. We’re all incredibly proud of everything Brett has accomplished – both on the field and in the classroom. He continues to represent our program, not only with this award, but with his current academic pursuit in grad school at Madison.
“You can’t ask for a better individual to have in your program. This is the pinnacle of our mission.”
Pozolinski still manages to find time to give back to the Milwaukee community as he is a four-year volunteer at the annual Panther Prowl race on campus, tutors at the Boys and Girls Club and has served as a belling ringer for the Salvation Army. The senior has also worked as a grade school track meet volunteer and a development track meet official.
Each Horizon League institution has the opportunity to nominate a male and female student-athlete for the Coleman Medal of Honor. Nominees for the 2016 award included Victor Zamora (men’s soccer) and Katelind Phillips (softball) of Cleveland State; Detroit’s Nathan Steinwascher (men’s soccer) and Zawacki (women’s soccer); Rachel Weiland (Swimming) of Green Bay; Milwaukee’s Pozolinski (track and field) and Kelsey Holbert (women’s soccer); Brady Holmer (cross country/track and field) and Emily Grubb (track and field) of Northern Kentucky; Oakland’s Max Hooper (men’s basketball) and Nikki Flynn (swimming); Mitch Granger (tennis) of UIC; Valparaiso’s Nolan Lodden (baseball) and Jenny Fassbinder (women’s soccer); Logan Blair (baseball) and Kim Demmings (women’s basketball) of Wright State; Youngstown State’s Jon Hutnyan (cross country/track and field) and Miranda Castiglione (softball).