INDIANAPOLIS - Joe Fletcher, a standout on the lacrosse field and in all areas of collegiate life, will receive the NCAA's highest accolade for a student-athlete in January. He has been named a 2015 recipient of the NCAA Today's Top 10 Award and will be honored at the upcoming NCAA Convention.
The NCAA Today's Top 10 Award recognizes student-athletes for their successes on the fields and courts, in the classroom and in the community. The award recipients completed their athletics eligibility during the 2013-14 academic year and is selected by the NCAA Honors Committee that is comprised of athletics administrators at member schools and conferences, as well as nationally distinguished former student-athletes.
Previously, the award recognized eight student-athletes and was known as Today's Top VIII. The NCAA Honors Committee expanded the award in 2013 to include 10 honorees in order to recognize the increased number of student-athletes, sports and championship opportunities. It has been awarded every year since 1973.
"I am extraordinarily proud of Joe for being nationally recognized as a young man whose diverse achievements exemplify the well-rounded development we deeply value as a Jesuit university," said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola. "Joe is an inspiration to the current and future Loyola students whom we challenge to make a positive impact on the world through transformative leadership and a commitment to excellence in their own lives and in the community."
Fletcher will be just the second Patriot League student-athlete to earn the recognition, following 1988 honoree Gordie Lockbaum, a Heisman Trophy finalist at College of the Holy Cross. Fletcher will also be the sixth men's lacrosse player to be so honored (Josh Sims, Princeton, 2001; Richard Giusto, Virginia, 1983; Daniel Mackesey, Cornell, 1978; Blake Ferguson, Drexel, 1973).
"It is humbling to receive this award from the NCAA because I have a great deal of gratitude for those who have helped me throughout my career," Fletcher said. "First, to my parents and family who have been there every step of the way with love and encouragement. Second, to Coach Toomey and Coach Dwan who helped me become a better player and person on a daily basis, and also to my teammates for their friendships, support and effort on, and off, the field. There are countless teaches, administrators and other staff at Loyola who played a role in my college experience, and I can't say enough about their efforts."
Fletcher and his fellow honorees will be recognized at the NCAA Honors Celebration at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on January 16. He is joined in receiving this award by: Lauren Battista (Bentley University, Women's Basketball), Abbey D'Agostino (Dartmouth College, Women's Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field), Kristen Hixson (Grand Valley State University, Women's Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field), Gabe Ikard (University of Oklahoma, Football), Kim Jacob (University of Alabama, Women's Gymnastics), Megan Light (Emory University, Softball), Nicole Michmerhuizen (Calvin College, Women's Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field), Mark Thomas (Livingstone College, Men's Basketball) and Shannon Vreeland (University of Georgia, Women's Swimming & Diving).
The award is the cap on one of the most distinguished athletic and academic careers by a Loyola student-athlete in the school's history.
"Joe is the definition of a true student-athlete, who was a leader of every part of life at Loyola - in the classroom, the community, locker room and on the field," said Jim Paquette, Loyola's assistant vice president and director of athletics. "We are so thrilled for him to receive this honor and the many other he has received throughout his distinguished career. We know that he will continue to be at the top of his field, no matter what his future endeavors entail."
Fletcher, who received the William C. Schmeisser Award as the nation's top defender in 2014, was a two-time First Team All-American by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He also earned Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year honors this season and was the Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
He was also a member of the 2012 NCAA Championships All-Tournament Team as the Greyhounds won Loyola's first-ever NCAA Division I title.
"We ask our players when they begin their careers at Loyola to leave our program better than the way it was when they found it," Head Coach Charley Toomey said. "There is absolutely no question Joe did just that. He has been a model for his teammates to follow, and is, and will always be, a tremendous representative of our men's lacrosse program."
In July 2014, he was named the 2013-2014 Patriot League Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. That award is presented annually to one male and one female Patriot League student-athlete. Those who are named Scholar-Athletes of the Year in their respective sports - as Fletcher was in men's lacrosse - are eligible for the honor.
The defender wrapped up his tenure at Loyola last month by graduating with a bachelor of business administration in accounting degree, posting a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in his final semester to finish with a 3.835 mark in his college classwork. Following graduation, he started his career as a risk analyst with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In May, Fletcher was named one of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award as the nation's top player, in the process becoming just the second close defender in the award's 14-year history to be a finalist. Last month, he was the first Greyhounds men's lacrosse player in program history to earn Capital One Academic All-America® presented by CoSIDA honors when he was named to the At-Large second team.
On the field, he was a three-time USILA All-American, earning honorable mention in 2012 in addition to first team laurels each of the last two seasons, the 2013 ECAC Lacrosse League Defensive Player of the Year, a USILA Scholar All-American and a finalist for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award.
He was the consensus top defender throughout the season and was equally good as a lockdown cover defender and groundball player. He led all NCAA Division I players in ground balls per game (4.71) and total ground balls (80). He also caused a career-high 31 turnovers. In 17 games this season, the players Fletcher had primary marking responsibilities for scored just 19 goals, several coming when he was already out of the game late in contests.
Fletcher was also a member of the 30-man U.S. Men's Lacrosse National Team that trained for the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships that will take place next week in Denver. He was the lone collegian to be a member of the 52-man training squad and the 30-man team.
Prior to the start of the 2014 season, Fletcher was the third overall draft pick in the Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Entry Draft - the highest a Loyola player had ever been selected - by the New York Lizards. In seven games with the Lizards, Fletcher has 18 ground balls, and he was selected as the MLL Warrior Defensive Player of the Week after his first game.
In April, Fletcher received Loyola's John R. Mohler Award as the athletic department's top male senior student-athlete. He was a member of Loyola's Green & Grey Society, a group of 14 student leaders who meet regularly and serve as liaisons to the University's president, administration and board of trustees. Fletcher served as the co-president of Loyola's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, as well, in 2013-2014.
He earned five Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors throughout the year, something that had never been done in conference history.
Over the course of his career, Fletcher collected 191 ground balls and caused 76 turnovers. His caused turnover total is third-most all-time at Loyola and the most by a close defender.