Senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo was named a finalist for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award, which honors student-athletes who excel both on and off the field.
Oct. 16, 2013
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - University of Illinois senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo was named a finalist for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award on Wednesday, which honors student-athletes who excel both on and off the field. DiBernardo is one of 10 women's soccer players up for the award, which includes two other members of the Big Ten in Penn State's Maya Hayes and Michigan's Holly Hein.
The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 women's candidates announced in August. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through November 25. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Men's and Women's College Cup championships in December.
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 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.
DiBernardo is a two-time All-American, collecting NSCAA second-team honors in 2011 and third-team accolades in 2012, and has been named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List three times. She excelled immediately on the field as an Illini, beginning her career as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2010. She followed up a stellar rookie season by earning Big Ten Midfielder of the Year honors in 2011 while leading the Illini to its second-ever Big Ten Tournament title.
A three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, DiBernardo has led the Illini in goals in each of the past three years, including a career-high 17 goals as a sophomore, which ranked second in school history. Before suffering a knee injury that has sidelined her for the past four games this season, she has scored four goals and tallied six assists, tying her for the most career assists (21) in school history. She also was called up to the United States Women's National Team for a match in September.
A recreation, sport and tourism major with a sport management concentration, she has been recognized with several academic awards, including an NSCAA Scholar All-American, a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Despite her demanding schedule due to Illinois and United States soccer, DiBernardo also has participated in several community service events throughout her career as part of the Hometown Heroes program.
2013 Senior CLASS Award Finalists
Aubrey Bledsoe, Wake Forest
Holly Hein, Michigan
Vanessa DiBernardo, Illinois
Elizabeth Hoerner, Navy
Jonelle Filigno, Rutgers
Kassey Kallman, Florida State
Kristen Hamilton, Denver
Kealia Ohai, North Carolina
Maya Hayes, Penn State
Anna Stinston, Illinois State