Sept. 20, 2012
BERKELEY - Steve Birnbaum - who has been a leader for his California men's soccer team both on and off the pitch - landed himself on one of the most prestigious watch lists in all of collegiate sports. The Golden Bear defender and co-captain was just announced as one of the 30 men's soccer student-athletes chosen as candidates for the Senior CLASS Award.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be a 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.
Birnbaum in the Classroom - Including academic achievements, major/concentration, graduation date, career interests:
Birnbaum graduated from Northwood High School early to Cal at the early age of 17. He is majoring in social welfare and currently has an overall GPA of 3.0. He garnered an honorable mention in Pac-10 All Academic Status both as a sophomore and junior. With a strong work ethic, Birnbaum participated in graduation ceremonies in May and will enjoy an early graduation in December 2012 with an optimistic outcome for invitations to MLS Combine opportunities and subsequently the MLS draft.
Birnbaum's Character - Examples of leadership, overcoming obstacles, teamwork, work ethic, integrity, etc.:
Birnbaum shows his strong leadership characteristics on and off the field at Cal as he was elected captain as a junior and again as a senior this year. His work ethic is demonstrated through continuous improvement and overcoming obstacles from an injury during a critical time in his quest for excellence as part of the U.S. Youth National Teams. With the Cal team, he organizes and runs meetings year around as well as practices for the team throughout the summer. Birnbaum is the ultimate team player and is humbly aggressive in his approach to soccer, building relationships and as a spokesperson for the sport of soccer and the NCAA.
Birnbaum in the Community - Individual and team community involvement and charitable activities utilizing status as a college athlete to make an impact in worthwhile causes:
Birnbaum and his family continue to support the Northwood, Calif. area philanthropies and the Orange County community. He recently presented a moving eulogy as a representative of the Kids in Irvine for a prominent woman in the community. He is viewed by the community as a collegiate athlete that is well-regarded for his sense of family raised by a single mother, his compassion and dedication for the youth soccer programs as a coach/mentor and his overall common sense and maturity to do the right thing.
Birnbaum's Competition - Achievements on the field during collegiate career:
Birnbaum represented the USA in both the U18 and U20 National Teams throughout the USA as well as in Mexico and Portugal. He most recently brought home a silver medal at the Maccabi Pan-American Games in Brazil in 2012. He claimed the 2011 Jewish Sports Review first-team All American status for the second straight season, and as a captain during his junior year he earned a spot on the 2011 All Pac-12 first team. Birnbaum was fortunate to be part of the first USA team as a finalist in the 2008 Milk Cup facing Manchester United and had the privilege of being part of the first USSF Development Academy named to the Starting XI. For the Cal team Birnbaum has a total of nine points for his assists, particularly during set pieces. As a strong central defender he appreciated the defensive guidance provided by the Cal coaching staff and shared a vision with A.J. Soares during their run towards winning the Pac-10 title and reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament in 2010.
His Bears will next play Duquesne in a nonconference match on Friday, Sept. 21, at 4:30 p.m. at Edwards Stadium.
About the award:
The 2012 candidate class includes 14 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Americans from last season. More than half of the 60 have maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better. Seven of the candidates were recognized by the College Sports Information Directors of America as 2011 Capital One Academic All-Americans. Five student-athletes participated in the 2011 NCAA Men's or Women's College Cups®. The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Men's and Women's College Cup championships. The Women's College Cup will take place Nov. 30 and Dec. 2 in San Diego, while the Men's College Cup will take place Dec. 7 and 9 in Hoover, Ala.
Each of the 30 candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one male candidate and one female candidate who best exemplify excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Men's Soccer 2012 Candidates
Steve Birnbaum, Defender, California
Carlos Alvarez, Midfield, Connecticut
James Belshaw, Goalkeeper, Duke
Ashton Bennett, Forward, Coastal Carolina
Scott Caldwell, Midfield, Akron
Machael David, Midfielder, UC Santa Barbara
Johnny Dreshai, Midfielder/Forward, Oakland
Shawn Ferguson, Defender, College of Charelston
Peyton Ford, Goalkeeper, North Carolina Greensboro
Scott Goodwin, Goalkeeper, North Carolina
Anthony Hobbs, Defense, Florida International
Ryan Hollingshead, Midfielder/Forward, UCLA
Delion Jones, Defender, Florida Gulf Coast
Taylor Kemp, Defender, Maryland
Ryan McDuff, Defender, Brown
Brian McGue, Midfield, Davidson
Peter McKeown, Goalkeeper, Loyola Chicago
Luis Oceio, Defense, Stetson
Cameron Omsberg, Defender, Lehigh
Jannis Opalka, Back, Siena
Liam Paddock, Back, UMBC
Everett Pitts, Defender, UC Irvine
Dillon Powers, Midfielder, Notre Dame
Eric Schoenle, Defender (Right Center Back), West Virginia
Yannick Smith, Forward, Old Dominion
Blake Smith, Forward/Midfielder, New Mexico
Donnie Smith, Forward, Charlotte
Bobby Thalman, Goalkeeper, Yale
Grant Van De Casteele, Defense, Notre Dame
Kyle Zobeck, Goalkeeper, Valparaiso