Big South Announces 2012 Graduate Fellowship Recipients

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - High Point women's soccer player Brielle Spencer (Lynchburg, Va.) and Winthrop men's soccer player Matt Horn (Mooresville, N.C.) have been awarded the annual Bob McCloskey Insurance Big South Conference Graduate Fellowships, it was announced today by the League office.  Bob McCloskey Insurance, a Big South Corporate Partner, will award $2,000 each to Spencer and Horn for their respective graduate studies on Thursday evening, May 31 as part of the Conference's Spring Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Banquet in Hilton Head, S.C.

The Big South Conference Graduate Fellowship Program was established by the League in the Fall of 2005 as a means of recognizing the academic excellence of Big South Conference student-athletes who intend to pursue postgraduate studies upon graduation from a Big South Conference institution.

"It is with great pleasure that we present these scholarships to these two fine, deserving student-athletes, and wish to extend our heartfelt wishes to their continued success in their future endeavors," said Rob McCloskey.  "We also are very proud and excited to be a Big South Corporate Partner, and look forward to a long-term relationship."

"I want to congratulate Ms. Spencer and Mr. Horn for their outstanding undergraduate careers and selection for this prestigious honor," added Big South Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander.  "The entire Big South family is proud of their accomplishments and we wish them the best in their graduate studies.  We also are gratified by the support of McCloskey Insurance for this worthy award."

Spencer, who was announced as one of four winners of the Big South's Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence on May 2, concluded her career as a two-time Big South Women's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year honoree.  The central defender helped High Point win two Big South championships and make two NCAA Tournament appearances during her four-year career.  She started 81 of 86 career matches, logged 7,158 career minutes and tallied one assist during her time with the Panthers.  Spencer was part of a defensive unit that allowed just six goals in Conference play in 2011 and posted seven shutouts (six in Big South action).  She is a 4.00 student as a double major in mathematics and physics and has been accepted into High Point University's graduate school where she plans to pursue a Master's of Arts in teaching secondary mathematics.

During her time at High Point, Spencer has been a three-time member of the Big South Presidential Honor Roll and a four-time Millis Scholar-Athlete.  She was one of two recipients of the Big South's Sunbelt Rentals Scholarship earlier this year, and was also named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District Team during her senior season.  Spencer is a two-time recipient of High Point's Tobias Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given annually to HPU's top female scholar-athlete.  She has been involved with the HPU Odyssey Honors Club since 2008, as well as Alpha Chi and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies since her junior year.  In addition, Spencer was a founding member and secretary of the HPU Physics Club, has been a member of both the HPU Math Club and Teachers of Tomorrow club since 2009, and has served two years on the High Point Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).  A member of High Point's chapter of the National Society of Leaderhsip and Success since 2009, Spencer has made the Dean's List all four years while spending time volunteering as a skill instructor at youth soccer clinics as well as a mentor with the High Point Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.  Spencer has also served as a tutor, assisted with local disaster relief efforts, and fundraised for March of Dimes.

Horn was a four-year letterwinner for the Eagles -- the last three as a starter.  He played in more than 70 games in his career as a defender, and helped Winthrop capture back-to-back Big South championships in 2008 and 2009 as well as two NCAA Tournament berths.  A two-year captain, Horn concluded his career with three assists and three points.  Horn, who has volunteered with the American Cancer Society, Read Across America and the United Way, is a 3.922 student in biology and will attend the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Horn has served the Big South Conference as its SAAC President and national representative at the Division I level.  He capped his playing career being voted a First-Team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American -- the first Winthrop men's soccer player to achieve this honor.  A finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award this past fall as an All-America Second-Team honoree, Horn was also named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's (NSCAA) Men's Scholar All-South Region Second-Team.  In addition, Horn was a two-time Big South Men's Soccer All-Academic Team selection and was the 2010 Big South Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipient.  During his time at Winthrop, he has been a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society and the Book and Key Honor Society.  In the spring of 2011, Horn was awarded the Griffin-Guettler Award for Winthrop's male athlete with the highest GPA, the Ken Stanton Award for going above and beyond the call of duty in leadership, and Winthrop's Student Life Award for Student Service Project of the Year that involved Samaritan's Feet Initiative (award presented to Winthrop's SAAC 2010).  Last month he received Winthrop's Senior Academic Award, which is presented annually to the male and female with the highest grade-point average among all senior athletes. 

Nominations for the Graduate Fellowship are made by the Faculty Athletics Representative or the Chief Academic Officer at a Big South member institution, and are limited to one male and one female at each school.  To qualify for the Big South Conference Graduate Fellowship, applicants must have the following requirements:

  • Have an overall undergraduate cumulative grade-point average of 3.500 or better based on a maximum 4.000, or the equivalent in other recognized grading systems;
  • Have competed in intercollegiate athletics as a member of a varsity team at a Big South Conference member institution;
  • Must be either a graduating senior during the academic year of the award, or be enrolled in a graduate program at a Big South Conference institution while completing the last year of eligibility;
  • Intend to continue academic work beyond the baccalaureate degree and enroll into a graduate degree program at a properly accredited, non-profit educational institution or into a post baccalaureate professional degree program at a professionally accredited law school, medical school or the equivalent, without restriction as to the national site of the institution;
  • Have evidenced superior character and superior leadership;
  • Have demonstrated that participation in athletics and community service has been a positive influence on the nominee's personal and intellectual development. Relative success in athletics is important but not of overriding significance;
  • Enroll in a graduate degree program the term subsequent to being awarded the fellowship or present a rationale for deferred matriculation.