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Saturday July 4th, 2015 3:03AM

Piedmont's Steck honored with NCAA postgraduate scholarship

By staff reports
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced the winners of its prestigious Postgraduate Scholarship for the spring of 2014 with Piedmont's Patrick Steck making the elite list of honorees adding another piece of academic hardware to his mantle. Steck is just the second-ever recipient of the honor from Piedmont though he joins another former Lions tennis player, Sebastian Stanescu, as the only two from PC to be named NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship award winners.<br /> <br /> "Patrick is truly deserving of this award," said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics John Dzik. "He exemplifies the very highest ideal of the student athlete at Piedmont. We are all elated he has been recognized in a manner that will allow him to pursue further educational opportunities."<br /> <br /> Steck became the school's 4th Capital One Academic All-American in the 2013-14 school year when he took the honor earlier this summer after graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA during his time in Demorest.<br /> <br /> Having earned his degree in International Studies, Steck took his community outreach to an international level starting the Piedmont chapter of the Pulsera Project, the first such chapter in the state of Georgia for the non-profit organization that educates, empowers, and connects Nicaraguan youth with students in more than 500 US schools through the sale of colorful, hand-woven bracelets, or ""pulseras"" in Spanish.<br /> <br /> Steck was also a member of Phi Sigma Iota, the foreign language NHS while a student-athlete at Piedmont, a place he spent four years as a mainstay on Burgen Tennis Courts, the home of the 8-time conference champion Lions.<br /> <br /> Though many are familiar with his work on the court, one in particular is even more familiar with his work in the classroom as Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) Debra Dooley is the main driving force behind Steck's nomination per the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship procedure. The nomination itself is to submitted by the Faculty Athletics Representative, and it is the responsibility of the FAR to ensure that all sections of the nomination are submitted to the NCAA national office no later than the sport season deadlines.<br /> <br /> With first-hand knowledge of Pat's work in the classroom, community, and on the court, it is no wonder Dr. Dooley holds Steck in such high esteem: "We are very proud of Patrick and his many accomplishments, he truly exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete."<br /> <br /> As just a freshman in the season of 2011 for Head Coach Shane Wood who was returning for his second stint at PC after a three-year tenure at NCAA Division I member Jacksonville University, Steck was a major piece of the last team to win one of those eight titles, the most of any single athletic program at PC. It's something that Steck believes had a major effect on not just his athletic endeavors, but also a motivating factor when entering the classrooms of Daniel Hall and others across the Demorest campus.<br /> <br /> "The overwhelming support from my faculty, coaches, athletic trainers, family, and friends is representative in being honored with this scholarship," said Steck. "I genuinely appreciate each and every one of your support and contributions in helping make my 4 years nothing short of spectacular."<br /> <br /> With the story already etched in Piedmont tennis lore, it is Steck's victory yell from that GSAC final his freshman year that stands as one of the young man's most vivid memories and contributions on the court after rallying back from an opening set defeat to earn a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 tie-break win at the #2 singles spot, keeping PC's title hopes alive. Steck's Lions would later go on to see teammate Moses Das clinch the 2011 Great South Athletic Conference Championship with a win at #1 singles handing Piedmont their first conference crown since 2007 and 8th in the previous 11 seasons.<br /> <br /> Having come to PC from Kingsland, Georgia, Steck is the son of Kurt and Annette Steck and a 2010 graduate of Camden County High School where he won 23 matches in his junior season under Coach Dan Vonk reaching the Elite 8. Steck's prowess on the courts was recognized early on by his college coach, Piedmont Tennis Coach Shane Wood, who knew from the beginning that Pat could bring more than just wins on the court:<br /> <br /> "Patrick has exemplified the term student-athlete at the NCAA level," said Coach Wood of his recently graduated Lion. "He has worked harder than anyone I have coached in 15 years, both in the classroom and on the court. This scholarship is well deserved and culminates his fabulous four year college career at Piedmont."<br /> <br /> The then-high school prospect turned his talent into success coming into the Lions tennis program going 11-4 in singles play during his debut season with the club, including an 11-1 mark at the #3 singles slot. Steck also collected 10 wins in doubles action that season partnering with Das in all but one of his doubles matches in that campaign.<br /> <br /> Again posting 11 singles wins as a sophomore for Head Coach Shane Wood, Steck would wrap up his career helping the Lions to an 11-7 mark in 2014 as a team including a 6-3 mark in the tough USA South while making a second consecutive appearance in the semifinals of the league's championship tourney. Having never posted less than 11 wins as a team in any of Steck's four seasons with the Green and Gold, PC took eight of its 11 wins in 2014 by a shutout 9-0 score winning in dominating fashion during his twilight campaign at Burgen.<br /> <br /> Steck is one of just 29 men from across all three Divisions of the NCAA to be named a Postgraduate Scholarship recipient for the spring sports including baseball, men's golf, men's lacrosse, men's tennis, men's outdoor track, and men's volleyball. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition who excel academically and athletically with 174 postgraduate scholarships handed out annually, 87 each for men and women.<br /> <br /> "I am honored that the NCAA scholarship committee selected me as a recipient of the award this year," said Steck who had a few words to share with the future members of the Green and Gold family as well. "I encourage all of my fellow Lions to continue to push themselves to new limits in the classroom and on the playing fields because, believe me, it will pay dividends for years to come." Steck plans to use his scholarship in pursuit of a graduate degree in International Policy at the University of Georgia.<br /> <br /> Created in 1964, the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship is meant to promote and encourage postgraduate education by rewarding the most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and emerging sports.
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