CONWAY - Ashton Bennett, a striker on the 10th ranked Coastal Carolina University men's soccer team has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS 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. 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.
Online fan voting, which accounts a portion of the total vote count, is open now. Fans can vote once per day at SeniorCLASSAward.com through Nov. 19. A combination of media, coaches and fan voting will determine the winner, which will be announced during the NCAA College Cup in Hoover, Ala., from Dec. 7-9.
Bennett has excelled in all four of the areas of excellence in his time at Coastal Carolina. The Clarendon, Jamaica, native helped the Chanticleers win the Big South regular season title in 2011, while leading the nation in goals on his way to Big South Attacking Player of the Year and First Team All-American honors. This season, he ranks fourth in the country with 11 goals, sixth in total points (25) and ninth in goal per game (1.79).
Despite being projected by many as a top 10 pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Bennett decided to return for his senior year at Coastal and finish his degree. "I made a promise to myself that I would get my degree when I came to the United States from Jamaica," Bennett said. "A degree opens up more opportunities once my playing days are over. Cincinnati State and Coastal Carolina have provided me with a great pathway to keep my promise."
A captain for the Chanticleers, Bennett strives to be not only the best on the field, but also a positive role model for others. He has been involved with numerous team community service events since his arrival in Conway in September 2011, including the Grand Strand Miracle League soccer program designed for special needs children. Bennett has also volunteered at the Myrtle Beach Triathlon and helped raise funds and donations as part of the Coastal Carolina Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's Christmas project and Pee Dee Elementary School school supply drive.
The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 men's candidates announced in September.
The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Men's College Cup championships. The Men's College Cup will take place December 7 and 9 in Hoover, Ala.
Men's Soccer Finalists
Carlos Alvarez, Connecticut
Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina
Steven Birnbaum, California
Scott Caldwell, Akron
Anthony Hobbs, Florida International
Ryan Hollingshead, UCLA
Ryan McDuff, Brown
Dillon Powers, Notre Dame
Eric Schoenle, West Virginia
Kyle Zobeck, Valparaiso