Northern Illinois men’s soccer player Kyle Knotek has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for excelling both on and off the field, the awards committee announced Wednesday.
“Kyle has been an essential part of our team’s core for several years now,” head coach Eric Luzzi said. “His unrelenting commitment in the classroom carries over to the field, and to all parts of his life.”
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Knotek, the most experienced member of the NIU soccer team with 42 career starts dating back to the Mid-American Conference Championship season of 2006, stands as one the only male candidate with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Even more impressive, Knotek has achieved that mark in the renowned NIU College of Business. As a business administration major, Knotek was named an ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American second team member in 2008, adding to an impressive list of academic awards. That list also includes two selections to the Academic All-Mid-American Conference Team, and MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week honors.
The Geneva, Ill. native has also stood out on the field. In 2008, as a junior, Knotek started 20 of 21 matches, including all three MAC Tournament games. The Huskies held their opponents scoreless for 285 minutes of that tournament with Knotek anchoring the backline. During his sophomore season, Knotek played an integral role on a team that upended No. 9 Northwestern and assisted two goals. As a freshman for the Huskies’ 2006 MAC Championship team, Knotek played in 14 matches, and started in 11, including the MAC title game, and both NCAA Tournament matches.
2010 actually marks the second season Knotek has been named a candidate for the award. Last year, Knotek made the list before suffering a season-ending knee injury during the first practice of fall camp.
“I’m especially happy to see Kyle on this list after what he went through last year,” Luzzi said. “He missed out on having his senior year with the guys he came to NIU with. His attitude throughout that challenging time displayed his true depth of character, and, though it was hard, he has grown so much because of it.”
The 30 candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplify excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
“The nominations for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for soccer are traditionally strong in community service and academic excellence,” said Tom Lamb, Lowe’s senior vice president of marketing. “This year’s candidate class reflects the strong sense of obligation these student-athletes have to their communities, their universities and their teammates and we are proud to recognize them for their excellence.”
For more information on all the candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.