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Ohio Northern University student-athlete wins Elite 89 award for NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship

Ohio Northern University defenseman Matt Fleming, a senior international business and economics major from Liberty Township, Ohio, has been named the recipient of the Elite 89 award for the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship. The award was presented at the NCAA Finals in San Antonio in November.

Left to right: Brent Ridenour, ONU head men’s soccer
coach, and Matt Fleming

The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.

Fleming, a graduate of Lakota East High School, is the first ONU student-athlete to receive this national award.

His achievement is all the more impressive considering the rigorous travel schedule that resulted from the team's run to the final four. In the span of one month, the team traveled to once to Pittsburgh, Pa., and to San Antonio, Texas, twice.

“In all honesty, I wouldn't have had the success in the classroom that I did without my teammates. Our team has such a strong mentality of excellence on and off the field. The guys around me pushed me to become a better athlete on the field, as well as a better student in the classroom,” says Fleming.

He also received help from an understanding faculty. Though he missed classes as a result of the soccer tournament this semester, his professors stayed in constant communication with Fleming and never let him fall behind. Some of the communication even went beyond homework assignments.

“From email's cheering me on, to asking me about the season at the beginning of class, I always felt the faculty's full support and pride in student-athletes such as myself,” he says.

The James F. Dicke College of Business Administration believes that developing leaders requires mentoring, experiential learning and scholarship. Fleming’s Elite 89 award is an excellent example of those three components coming together to produce tremendous success.

"The receipt of the Elite 89 award conferred to Matt Fleming is impressive to say the least," says James Fenton, Dean of the James F. Dicke College of Business Administration. "Though it is impressive, it was not surprising to me that Matt received the award. Matt represents the very essence of the term 'student athlete.' Matt is an outstanding student who has demonstrated a sustained, high-level academic performance. He is a worthwhile recipient."

The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers.