INDIANAPOLIS -- Detroit men’s soccer player Matt Ybarra [Irvine, Calif./Ann Arbor (Mich.) Huron] and Green Bay women’s basketball player Ellen Edison (Maple Grove, Minn./Maple Grove) have been named the recipients of the Horizon League’s 2014-15 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.
Ybarra is the first Detroit men’s student-athlete to win the award since Ken Dubois of the Titan cross country team earned the honor in 1988.
“I am honored to be selected as the recipient of the Cecil B. Coleman Medal of Honor Award,” Ybarra said. “I am grateful to UDM and the Horizon League for the opportunity of having four amazing years to live my dream of competing and studying as a student-athlete. There is no question that I have greatly developed as a leader and as a person in my time as a student-athlete and for that I would like to thank everyone who has helped in that process, especially all of my fantastic teammates from over the years.”
The four-year letterman played in 75 matches during his career as a Titan, starting 61 times. He was twice named to the All-Horizon League team, including the second team in 2014 while helping lead Detroit to a share of the regular season title. He scored two goals and had six assists from his midfield spot in 2014 to rank second on the team in assists and points.
“What a fantastic award for a fantastic student-athlete,” Detroit men’s soccer head coach Nicholas Deren said. “It’s well deserved for all of the time and effort Matt has put in, on and off the field. With regard to his academics, I think the last four semesters, he’s had a 4.0 GPA all four semesters. Doing that as well as being a captain, going into his junior year and being the captain of our soccer team for two years straight, it put a lot of time constraint on him that he was able to deal with.
“You just can’t ask for a better player to model your program after. I’m certainly proud of him and excited for him.”
A 2014-15 Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team selection, Ybarra was recognized on the Horizon League Honor Roll all six semesters in which he was eligible. He was also selected to the Horizon League men’s soccer all-academic team in 2014 and earned NSCAA Scholar All-North/Central Second Team honors. Ybarra received the Academic Excellence Award for recording a 3.0 GPA or better in each semester at UDM. He also received the athletic department’s President Award, the highest honor given to UDM seniors, who best typify the image of the complete student-athlete.
When not in the classroom or on the field, the two-time captain was a three-year member of UDM’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee and served as President during the 2014-15 academic year. He donated his time to many volunteer projects including the Salvation Army, food kitchens in the Detroit area and at Gesu school. He also was part of the GM Student Corp, which mentored kids from Detroit public high schools.
“Matt exemplifies what a student-athlete really is from a leadership, academic and competitive standpoint,” Detroit Director of Athletics Robert Vowels said. “This is the highest honor that any student-athlete can receive in the Horizon League and the fact that Matt has met all the criteria is a credit to him, his family and the university.”
Edison is the fifth member from the Green Bay women’s basketball program to win the Coleman Award and the seventh Phoenix female overall. She joins Chari Nordgaard (1998-99), Kristy Loiselle (2002-03), Kayla Tetschlag (2010-11) and Julie Wojta (2011-12) to achieve this honor while representing the women’s basketball team.
“I am very honored to have received the Cecil M. Coleman Medal of Honor,” Edison said. “Without the support of the athletic department, faculty, friends and family, I could never have earned this award. A sincere thank you to all of those who have helped me along my journey in athletics and academics. I am very proud to have been able to represent Green Bay and the Horizon League.”
The Maple Grove, Minn., native was a standout in the classroom as she registered high honors (3.75 GPA or better) in six semesters at Green Bay and had Highest Honors (4.0 GPA) in two semesters. In May, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors in Human Biology with a GPA of 3.901, received the Chancellor’s Leadership Medallion and was a Founder’s Association Scholarship recipient. Edison also served in the Delta Chapter of the National College Athlete Honor Society and is a Chi Alpha Sigma. She was honored with the Mildred Jorgensen Scholarship for Leadership in Basketball and Academics and earned the Who’s Who American Colleges and Universities Award.
On the court, Edison was part of a Green Bay program that had a 79-18 (81.4 percent) record in her three years on the team. She helped Green Bay to extend its Horizon League regular season championship streak to 17 and also was a part of two Horizon League tournament winning teams. She served as team captain in the 2014-15 season, appearing in 26 games off the bench.
“Ellen Edison is a great person and she always has a smile on her face,” Green Bay head women’s basketball coach Kevin Borseth said. “She is very dedicated in everything that she does. The faculty really enjoyed working with her and she was also a great teammate. When you look for the perfect student-athlete, Ellen is just that. All of her balls are in the air, she has the perfect balance of social life, academics and athletics. Ellen is very deserving of this award and we are very proud of this accomplishment.”
Edison was also heavily involved in the community during her time at Green Bay. She was an Athletes in Action Leader, while also serving as a SAAC member. She served as a personal tutor in one-on-one learning in math and biology. She had various volunteer opportunities, including Packer Pals. She was an anatomy and physiology teaching assistant, while also conducting an honors project where she studied the effects of exercise training as well as an extensive literature review.
“We are so proud of Ellen and all that she has accomplished in the classroom, in the community and on the court,” Green Bay Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie said. “She is an amazing young woman who has represented herself and her family, our women’s basketball program and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with nothing but integrity, confidence and poise. Ellen is truly deserving of this honor.”
Edison graduated with one year of eligibility remaining to pursue career as a doctor in the medical field.
Each Horizon League institution has the opportunity to nominate a male and female student-athlete for the Coleman Medal of Honor. Nominees for the 2015 award included Maggie Hannon (volleyball) of Cleveland State; Detroit’s Louisa Coppola (cross country/track and field) and Ybarra (soccer); Green Bay’s Edison (basketball) and Michael Tenzer (tennis); Milwaukee’s Ashley Green (basketball) and Sam Koenig (baseball); Taylor Humm (volleyball) and Corey Petros (basketball) of Oakland; Vince Errichiello (swimming and diving) and Erica Hampton (soccer) of UIC; Valparaiso’s Jessica Richardson (cross country/track and field) and Tom Serratore (soccer); Allie Metzler (soccer) and Michael Timm (baseball) of Wright State; and Youngstown State’s Marta Burak (tennis) and Eric Rupe (cross country/track and field).