NAU honored with two Academic All-Americans
(Photo courtesy of NAU Athletics)
Which school is the only institution to have two current Academic All-Americans of the Year for the university division? If your answer is NAU, you are right.
With NAU soccer senior defender Kristi Andreassen’s selection as the Academic All-American of the Year in the university division, she joined senior cross country and track runner David McNeill to give NAU the distinction of being the only school in the nation to have more than one current student athlete with the honor.
“This just shows that NAU has competitive sports and great academics,” Andreassen said, whose selection was a part of the 2010-11 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Soccer Teams as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). “It’s great advertisement for our school and a lot more people are recognizing NAU. I know a lot of locals in Arizona think of ASU and UA and they don’t consider us, but now more and more people are hearing about NAU and more athletes want to come here.”
Andreassen, a native of Tempe, recently completed her career as the second player in NAU soccer history to be named a three-time All-Big Sky first team selection and is the only All-American in the program’s history. This season, she was named the conference Defensive Most Valuable Player and led the team with six goals.
But as evidenced with her recent award, for which more than 8,000 Division I women soccer players were candidates, she was determined excellent off the field as well. She will graduate at the end of this semester with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in exercise science.
“Kristi deserved that award, but we were in awe that she was selected amongst all the Division I women’s soccer athletes,” said head soccer coach Andre Luciano. “She’s embodied everything we’ve asked as a student athlete for our program and is a role model for every single one of our players in terms of academics. She’s been able to showcase the fact that you can excel in the classroom and on the field without taking shortcuts.”
McNeill, an exercise science major with a 3.76 GPA, will also graduate at the end of this semester. He was named the Male Academic All-American of the Year in the university division back in June as part of the 2009-10 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American Men’s Track and Field and Cross Country Teams as chosen by CoSIDA.
“Education is something that is really important for me,” McNeill said. “I’m not the brightest person, but I put in the effort. Whether I’m on the track or in the classroom, I always give it my best. Hard work pays off, and anything is possible.”
The Melbourne, Australia native will leave NAU as one of its most decorated runners. He was recently named the Mountain Region Men’s Athlete of the Year for the third-consecutive season by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and is a nine-time All-American with two 5,000-meter national championships.
Both Andreassen and McNeill were also among 20 graduating seniors to be awarded with the Gold Axe Award that recognizes students’ outstanding academic performance, leadership and service to the university and the community.
“These awards just show how much we stress upon academics,” said Eric Heins, director of track and field and cross country. “When we have student athletes like [David and Kristi], they do try to [achieve the] highest not only athletically, but academically. If you want to be an Academic All-American, you have to come to NAU.”