ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Mitchell College senior Zachary Simmons was selected as the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Male Student Athlete of the Year, as announced by the conference on Wednesday.
Simmons becomes the second Mitchell student-athlete to win the award, which is given annually to the top male senior from among the nine NECC institutions and determined by a vote of the league's Athletic Directors. The award recognizes athletics and academics successes while also factoring in leadership and community service components.
"Zachary is deserving of this honor, and we are so proud of his accomplishments" said Director of Athletics Maureen White. "He has been a shining example of everything we look for in a student-athlete at Mitchell. He excels in both the classroom and on the field, and he possesses the character and leadership that you can build successful programs around. He is the type of person that every coach wants on his or her team."
A two-sport athlete at Mitchell, Simmons graduated in May following a two-year career as a member of the men's soccer and tennis programs. He majored in business administration and held a cumulative grade point average of 3.92, the highest of any male student-athlete at Mitchell. A four-time NECC Academic All-Conference Team selection (twice in each sport), he was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma (National College Athlete Honor Society) in 2013.
Simmons was a two-time all-conference selection in men's soccer and led the Mariners to consecutive NECC Championship berths. As a senior he was honored as the NECC Player of the Year, the first Mitchell men's soccer player to ever earn the distinction. He led Mitchell in scoring this past season with five goals and two assists for 12 points in league play, ranking among the conference leaders in scoring (2nd), goals (T-2nd) and assists (T-3rd). The senior captain recorded a point in five of the seven NECC matches and was one of only two players who scored a pair of game-winning goal in conference play.
"Zachary is one of the most significant recruits I've ever had at Mitchell," said head men's soccer coach Dean Roberts. "He has everything a coach looks for in a player—outstanding character, excellent leadership and tremendous skill—and on top of that he's an amazing student and a true representative for the college. He deserves whatever success may come his way, and I have no doubt he will do great things in the future."
On the tennis courts, Simmons made his collegiate debut in 2013 and was quick to make an impact. He earned wins in 16 of 18 total matches and was named NECC Rookie of the Year while attaining all-conference first team status in both singles and doubles. As a senior he moved to the top singles position and went 5-5 en route to all-conference honorable mention status. The Mariners advanced to the NECC Championship in each of his seasons—including a title appearance in 2013—and he was also named to the NECC All-Tournament Team each year.
"For me, it is extremely rewarding that other members of our conference see in Zachary what we see every day," said men's tennis coach Damian Houlden. "He is a bright, highly-motivated young man who has been a devoted student, extraordinary athlete and consummate teammate. The award—in addition to being well deserved—validates all the hard work and dedication that he has put in throughout his career."
While juggling the responsibilities that come with being a two-sport athlete and a full-time student, Simmons also found the time to be an involved member on the Mitchell campus. He served the campus community as a resident assistant for three semesters, and as a student-worker for the behavioral science department he aided in events like the annual Family Halloween Festival, which provides a day of fun and entertainment for local families while also collecting canned goods to support the Gemma Moran United Way/Labor Food Pantry.
Simmons is the second Mitchell student-athlete in as many years to be awarded the NECC's top honor. Last year former men's tennis teammate Rocco Devona earned the distinction.
"I think it highlights the quality and character of the student-athletes we have here at Mitchell," continued Houlden. "It's a massive achievement that we've had two winners of this award, and it speaks volumes about what we're trying to accomplish in our athletics programs."