Senior Harrison Blackledge’s excelling on the basketball court and in the classroom is earning him national recognition as a student-athlete.
The Hope College forward has been chosen a College Sports Information Directors of America First Team Academic All-American for the 2016-17 season and selected a finalist for the Jostens Trophy given to the top male and female student-athletes in Division III basketball.
Blackledge carries a 3.91 grade point average while pursuing a double major of communication and management. He was named Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association MVP this season after leading the NCAA Division III Tournament-bound Flying Dutchmen to a regular-season MIAA title.
Both honors are well-deserved, head coach Greg Mitchell said.
“Harrison has invested a great deal into the player he has become on the court and into the student he is in the classroom,” Mitchell said. “I couldn't be more proud of him as a coach. What makes the achievement even more noteworthy is that Harrison will deflect the credit to his teammates and recognize that individual awards are a result of team success. His humility is a trait that makes him such a special person.
“The term 'student/athlete' is often loosely used in college athletics. In truth, Harrison Blackledge personifies it and has been a tremendous ambassador of Hope Basketball.”
Blackledge is one of five Division III men’s basketball players to receive CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America distinction and 15 overall to be recognized. There are five honorees on first, second and third teams.
Blackledge follows former teammate Ben Gardner (2016) as CoSIDA Academic All-Americans from the Hope College men’s basketball team.
The CoSIDA Division III Academic All-America® program is being financially supported by the NCAA Division III national governance structure, to assist CoSIDA with handling the awards fulfillment aspects for the 2016-17 Division III Academic All-America® teams program.
Blackledge joins women’s soccer player Elizabeth Perkins as a CoSIDA Academic All-American this school year. She was one of 11 first-team selections last fall.
Blackledge is one of 10 finalists for the Jostens Trophy finalist, an award has been given annually since 1998.
The Jostens Trophy is a national award created by the Rotary Club of Salem to honor the most outstanding men's and women's NCAA Division III basketball players of the year. The award takes into account three vital parts: basketball ability, academic prowess, and community service. The trophy models the Rotary International motto of "Service Above Self" by recognizing those who truly fit the ideal of the well-rounded NCAA Division III student-athlete. This year's class marks the 20th year the award has been presented.
Additional information on the award can be found at http://www.odaconline.com/jostens
The winner of the Jostens Trophy is chosen by a national selection committee that consists of college coaches, former athletes, college administrators and selected members of the media. The members of the national selection committee cast their votes based on three criteria: basketball ability, academic ability and community service.
The Rotary Club of Salem’s Jostens Trophy Committee employs a numerical rating to narrow the list of finalists so that the decision can be made on the most objective basis possible. The 20 finalists continue thru the review process, with a national selection committee of 32 individuals charged with determining the two winners of the 2017 Jostens Trophy honors.
Blackledge joins fellow finalists Sam Borst-Smith of University of Rochester, AJ Edwards of Marietta College, Brandon Federici of Franklin & Marshall College, Evan Greening of Pittsburgh-Bradford, DeShawn Lowman of Neumann University, Armin Omanovic of Lasell College, Matt St. Amour of Middlebury College, Zach Wallace of Rockford University, and Steven Weidlich of Susquehanna University.
The awards presentation is scheduled to be held at next month's NCAA Division III men's basketball championship in Salem, Virginia.
The Trophy itself stands two-feet high and weighs sixty-four pounds. The eight-inch basketball in the center is made of Czech crystal, while the wood base is fashioned from solid cherry. One trophy will go to each winner of the award, while the original will be permanently displayed outside of the Community Room at the Salem Civic Center.
In conjunction with the awarding of the Jostens Trophy, is the presentation of the Wooldridge Scholarship. The scholarship will be given in the name of the Jostens Trophy recipient to the college or university which he/she attends.
The Wooldridge Scholarship is named after Dan Wooldridge, a Salem Rotarian and retired commissioner of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, as a way of honoring him for his lifelong commitment to service and excellence. A veteran of the officiating ranks, Wooldridge is a Paul Harris Fellow and has in the past served as the Rotary Club's President.