INDIANAPOLIS -- Valparaiso men’s soccer player Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) and women’s softball standout Coryn Schmit (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) of UIC have been named the recipients of the Horizon League’s 2012-13 Cecil N. Coleman Medal of Honor.
The Horizon League’s highest individual honor, the Coleman Award 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.
Zobeck becomes the 2nd Crusader all-time to collect the Coleman Award and the first on the men’s side. He joins Jackie Kondratko (2010) as the only Valpo student-athletes to capture the honor.
“We are very proud of Kyle and his accomplishments both in the classroom and on the pitch,” said Valparaiso Athletic Director, Mark LaBarbera. “He exemplifies the Crusader championship spirit and the Horizon League’s values.”
The 6’1” goalkeeper has been named the League’s Goalkeeper of the Year last two seasons, as well as earning First-Team All-League honors in both seasons. He set Valpo career records for goals against average (0.91) and shutouts (23) and finished his career ranked seventh in Horizon League history in both categories. As a junior, he set Crusader single-season records for GAA (0.66) and shutouts (11), helping lead the men’s soccer program to its first Horizon League regular season title.
In January, Zobeck was drafted with the seventh pick in the second round of the MLS Supplemental Draft by FC Dallas. He is the first Crusader in program history to sign an MLS contract.
“Congratulations to Kyle and his family on another award, especially one as prestigious as this latest honor,” head men’s soccer coach Mike Avery said. “We always talk within our locker room about individual awards actually being team awards, and our team is very proud to have had Kyle represent us in such a positive light throughout his career.”
Holding a 3.97 GPA and graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Zobeck earned Valparaiso’s Laurel Award which is presented to the graduating student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA. He earned Valpo Presidential academic honors in each of his last three seasons on the soccer program and was a member of the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll each semester that he was eligible for the award, as well as a three-time member of the men’s soccer Academic All-Horizon League team. In the summer of 2012, Zobeck was recognized by Tau Beta Pi - the national engineering honor society - as a Tau Beta Pi Laureate. He’s one of just 83 TBP Laureates in the last 30 years.
When not in the classroom or on the pitch, the two-year captain served as a volunteer at numerous soccer camps, including organizing and coaching a one-day soccer clinic at Valpo as part of the College Mentors for Kids program. He also assisted in the team’s community service efforts by raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (funds research in the search for cures of childhood cancer) and raising money and collecting athletic equipment for They Often Cry Outreach.
Zobeck also helped younger students at Valpo by running mechanical engineering study sessions for freshman and sophomore engineering students.
Schmit is the third UIC student-athlete to earn the Coleman Medal, and the first female Flame athlete to win the award since 2000-01 when tennis player Jacki Farr received the honor.
“This is a wonderful award considering all of the talented student-athletes in the Horizon League,” head UIC softball coach Michelle Venturella said. “Coryn is a leader by example. She has always been very generous with her time and did whatever she could to better herself and this team. This is a tremendous honor for her and all of UIC. We are all very proud of her, not only for what she accomplished on the field, or even in the classroom, but for taking it a step further and creating a legacy for those that will follow.”
The 4.0 student became was a First-Team Academic All-American in 2013, just the second UIC student-athlete to earn that distinguished honor. She also earned Third-Team Academic All-American status in 2012. She was a two-time First-Team Academic All-District 5 honoree and a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete. The three-time UIC Female Student-Athlete of the Year was a UIC Honors College member and a member of the National Society of Collegiate Honors and Golden Key International Honors Society.
On the field, Schmit led the Flames in home runs twice in her career as she was named to the Horizon League First or Second Time three times in her career. She was also a member of the 2011 Horizon League All-Tournament team and was the March 2011 Scholar-Athlete of the Month.
Off the field, Schmit spearheaded the inaugural ‘FLAMEingo Drive’ that raised over $4,000 for the American Cancer Society’s event “Taking Strides Against Breast Cancer.” During the drive, she organized an event in UIC’s Quad that included various activities, a bake sale and a raffle to raise money. When interviewed about her part in the ‘FLAMEingo Drive’ Schmit said, “I want to do something bigger than winning and losing, something bigger than me, or softball.”
She has also volunteered for multiple charity runs, was a three-time UIC Softball Youth Camp clinic assistant and is a Lake Zurich Baseball and Softball Association community softball leader.
“Coryn exemplifies everything that is great about intercollegiate athletics,” UIC Director of Athletics Jim Schmidt said. “Her work ethic, passion, leadership and team-first attitude, along with her academic focus make her the perfect recipient of this prestigious award.”
Schmit has already secured a spot in UIC’s graduate school for physical therapy and will begin the program this coming Fall.
Each Horizon League institution has the opportunity to nominate a male and female student-athlete for the Coleman Medal of Honor. Nominees for the 2013 award included Michael Klaric III (golf) and Valerie Stahl (soccer) of Cleveland State; Detroit’s Pat Lepera (soccer) and Collette Hansen (golf); Green Bay’s Cam Fuller (golf) and Areanna Lakowske (cross country); Ben Averkamp (basketball) and Brooke Andresen (softball) of Loyola; Milwaukee’s Dan Simon (track and field) and Helen Steinhauser (soccer); Alex Grunenwald (baseball) of UIC; Valparaiso’s Taylor Root (volleyball); Jason Bruns (cross country) and Lauren Patterson (soccer) of Wright State; and Youngstown State’s Blake Allen (basketball) and Brandi Brown (basketball).