Feb 12, 2013, 4:14 PM EST
Senior defender becomes first Irish men’s soccer player to receive the prestigious honor.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame soccer standout Grant Van De Casteele has been named the 2012-13 American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The selection was made by the Conference’s Academic Affairs Committee.
A senior from Plano, Texas, Van De Casteele will receive a $4,000 scholarship, which may be applied to graduate or professional studies. He is Notre Dame’s second BIG EAST Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year selection, joining Errol Williams, who was the 1998 winner as a member of the Irish track & field team. Overall, Van De Casteele is the ninth Notre Dame student-athlete to receive the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award.
“I’m definitely taken aback that I’m just the ninth student-athlete from Notre Dame to receive this award. It makes me very proud to be in a group of such few people,” Van De Casteele said.
Van De Casteele played every minute of every game for Notre Dame in the 2012 season – the only player on the team to do so – on his way to All-BIG EAST Third Team and All-Great Lakes Region Third Team accolades. He started all 22 games as a central defender for the Irish, who went 17-4-1 overall, 5-2-1 in BIG EAST play, won the BIG EAST Championship title and earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championship.
Van De Casteele, who was chosen as the Most Outstanding Defensive Performer of the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, helped Notre Dame to 21 shutouts in the last three seasons, including nine in 2012. He scored one goal during the season – the game winner against eventual NCAA champion Indiana during the regular season.
Van De Casteele, who holds a 3.715 grade-point average as a finance major in Notre Dame’s nationally-ranked Mendoza College of Business, has twice been honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Scholar All-Region selection. He serves as Notre Dame’s representative to the BIG EAST Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a peer advisor for Notre Dame’s First Year of Studies department.
“When I came to Notre Dame it was 100 percent with the intent of pursuing academics for the long term,” Van De Casteele said. “I wasn’t coming here just to try and play pro soccer. I came here looking to be part of the ’99 percent of student-athletes who go pro in something other than sports’. That’s where it started and since then I’ve become very competitive in academics.”
Van De Casteele’s community outreach has included participation with a South Bend elementary school, where he helped students prepare for the state’s standardized test, and work with the Special Olympics of Rhode Island with his colleagues from the BIG EAST Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He has assisted with Notre Dame’s annual pediatric Christmas party as well as with local soccer camps to benefit the Salvation Army. Van De Casteele also is a tutor for the Office of Academic Services for Student-Athletes at Notre Dame.
The American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is one of a number of scholarships presented by the BIG EAST Conference and American Eagle Outfitters during the 2012-13 academic year. Thirty student-athletes (one male and one female from each of the BIG EAST’s 15 member institutions) will be named as the winners of the American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Institutional Scholar-Athlete Scholarships. The conference also names male and female American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Basketball Scholar-Athletes of the Year and an American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Notre Dame BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year Recipients
Jen Renola (1997) Women’s Soccer (G)
Pat Garrity (1998) Track and Field (Hurdles)
Jenny Streiffer (2000) Women’s Soccer (M/F)
Ruth Riley (2001) Women’s Basketball (C)
Jarrah Myers (2002) Softball (3B/C)
Vanessa Pruzinsky (2004) Women’s Soccer (D)
Tim Abromaitis (2010, 2011, 2012) Men’s Basketball (F)
Grant Van De Casteele (2013) Men’s Soccer (D)
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