LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - Siena Men's Soccer senior captain Jannis Opalka has been selected as a candidate for the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. The first Siena Men's Soccer nominee in program history, Opalka is one of just 30 candidates nationally from over 200 Division I Men's Soccer programs and the only MAAC nominee for the award.
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. Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award winner during the 2012 NCAA Men's College Cup Championship which takes place Dec. 7 and 9 in Hoover, Ala.
From the list of 30 candidates, a national media committee will select ten finalists for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in early October. Those 10 names will then be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote. Fan balloting will be coupled with votes from coaches and media to determine the recipient of the award.
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.
Throughout his three-plus seasons in Loudonville, Opalka has embodied the four areas of excellence outlined by the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award criterion.
In the community, Opalka has been an active member and continually embraced a leadership role with the "Saints in the Community" program. Along with his teammates, Opalka made a significant contribution in helping the Siena Athletic Department win the 2011-12 MAAC Pepsi Refresh Goodworks Challenge for performing the most community service of any of the 10 MAAC schools.
In the classroom, the Stade, Germany native has posted a nearly perfect 3.9 cumulative GPA while majoring in Management. Following his junior season, he was named a Capital One Academic All-District I First Team selection, an NSCAA Scholar All-American and an NSCAA Scholar All-East Region First Team selection. Additionally, he has earned MAAC All-Academic and Honor Roll honors in each year of eligibility.
Opalka's character went a long way in earning him the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's male nomination for the 2010-11 NCAA Student Athlete Sportsmanship Award which honors student athletes who "have distinguished themselves through demonstrated acts of sportsmanship and ethical behavior." First named a team captain as only a sophomore for his great leadership and communication skills, Opalka has been hailed by teammates, coaches, classmates and members of the Siena Community alike for coming to the aid of fellow international students and helping them in their immersion to the English language and culture.
On the field of competition, Opalka was tabbed an NSCAA All-North Atlantic Third Team selection and Second Team All-MAAC honoree following last season. The anchor of the Saints' center backfield since his arrival in Loudonville, Opalka started all 17 games last year for a Siena defense which tied a program single-season record by allowing just 16 total goals and ranked 34th nationally with a 0.89 goals against average.
Opalka's nomination continues a recent string of candidacies of Siena College student athletes for this prestigious honor. In the past three seasons the men's lacrosse program has had four nominees and this spring Tom Morr was named one of ten national finalists for the men's lacrosse honor.
For more information on Opalka's nomination and all of this year's candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com
ABOUT THE AWARD
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award honors the attributes of senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. The award program is designed exclusively for college seniors who are utilizing their complete athletic eligibility, remaining committed to their university and pursuing the many rewards a senior season can bring. Premier Sports Management manages the award.
ABOUT THE NCAA
The NCAA is a membership-led nonprofit association of colleges and universities committed to supporting academic and athletics opportunities for more than 400,000 student-athletes at more than 1,000 member colleges and universities. Each year, more than 54,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA championships in Divisions I, II and III sports. Visit NCAA.org and NCAA.com for more details about the Association, its goals and members and corporate partnerships that help support programs for student-athletes.