CHICKASHA – A pair of USAO soccer players earned USAO’s highest student athlete honor as they were named the 2012 recipients of the Bill and Pat Smith Scholar Athlete Award.
Niall Crick and Annie Zoch earned the honor because of strong performances in the classroom and on the field and their involvement in the university. The Bill and Pat Smith Scholar Athlete Award goes out to one male and one female USAO athlete each year.
“Niall and Annie both truly represent what a student-athlete is all about,” said Coach Jimmy Hampton, both players’ soccer coach. “They are both intrinsically motivated young people. They compete to do their best in the classroom and the playing field, and neither of them will ever be outworked.”
Both athletes have been playing for Hampton at USAO for four years and both are scheduled to graduate this month.
“They are both talented, accountable, hard-working young people who have a bright future in whatever they decide to pursue,” Hampton said. “It has been a privilege having them represent USAO Soccer on field, in the classroom and within the campus community the last four years and their leadership and talent will be sorely missed.”
Crick, a midfielder for the Drovers, has maintained a 3.68 grade point average in communication while competing four years for the Drovers.
“In addition to his intellectual gifts, Niall is also one of the most honorable young men I have had the pleasure of knowing,” said Dr. J.C. Casey in her nomination of Crick. “He is a true leader-by-example; he does not call attention to himself but carries himself with confidence that comes with a deeply rooted value system.”
Crick said he was happy to earn the honor because of the competition he knew from his teammates and other athletes on campus.
“It’s a very big honor. When you are going up against so many other athletes that are graduating this year, it’s definitely something to be proud of,” he said. “I’m very honored.”
Crick has served as the Editor-in-Chief for the student run newspaper, The Trend, and its online counterpart. Casey said she can see that Crick is not just a leader, but also a team player.
“He is not a cheerleader. He does not seek the spotlight,” she said. “But the force of his personality is strong. Watching him work with others reminds me of the axiom that there’s no limit to what can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
With 23 goals and 43 assists on his career, Crick has helped the Drovers to repeat NAIA Quarterfinal appearances and three NAIA National Tournament appearances. He’s currently third in school history in assists and fifth in total points.
Crick is a two-time NAIA All-America Third Team player. In 2011, he was named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete and a Capitol One Academic All-District. He earned All-Conference accolades three years in a row.
He was also a 2010 NAIA Champion of Character. He is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the son of Stephen Coulson and Sylvia Crick.
Zoch, a senior defender on the women’s soccer team, has maintained a 3.2 GPA in business while playing for and serving as captain for the Drovers.
As team captain this year, Zoch led her team to its first Sooner Athletic Conference title and NAIA National Tournament appearance.
“She has also led our girls to strive for success in the classroom, leading them to an overall team GPA of over 3.0 every year she’s been here,” Hampton said.
As a four-year starter, Zoch was named All-Conference First Team three of her four years at USAO. Spending most of her time helping defend the goal, Zoch has posted nine goals and four assists in her time at USAO.
“I’m proud of all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off in school and soccer,” she said. “I think they nominated me because I put so much into the team the four years I’ve been here and done everything I can to make it better and be a good leader.”
Zoch was named the 2011 — and first women’s — NAIA Champion of Character.
“I just think it’s really cool that Niall and I ended up being the ones to get this award,” she said. “Both of our families are really proud of us.”
She is from Mannford and is the daughter of John Zoch and J.D. and Sherry Matlock.