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2020 UC Merced Athletic Department Awards Announced
MERCED, Calif. - The University of California, Merced Athletics Department announced its major award winners through social media on Monday. These awards were originally slated to be announced at the ninth annual awards banquet, an event in which the senior student athletes also receive their sashes among many other things, but unfortunately the event was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Major department awards include the Bobcat Award, Georgette "Ma" Kelley Female Athlete of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year, Female Intercollegiate Athlete of the Year and the Male Intercollegiate Athlete of the Year.
Women's soccer's Miranda Thomas earned the highest honor with the Bobcat Award and was one of four total seniors honored with major awards. Fellow classmates Mia Belvin, Joey Medina and Madison Mitchell joined Thomas with major awards, as did sophomore Marcos Ceballos.
The Bobcat Award is given to the student athlete who best represents UC Merced Athletics. The "Ambassador of Athletics" encompasses exceptional leadership, character and spirit among many other qualities.
Mitchell (Cognitive Science) graduated in December, just a month after her final season with UC Merced women's volleyball, and has landed on both the Chancellor's List and Director's All-Academic Team every possible year. Mitchell is also a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete and played a huge role as the women's volleyball team achieved the highest team GPA in the department this past fall semester. Like Medina, Mitchell is also one of the most successful transfer students to ever put on the Bobcat uniform. Mitchell is currently working on a Master's in Behavioral Psychology with an emphasis in ABA at Pepperdine University.
Medina (Psychology) is a 2X Fall Dean's Honor List student and extends UC Merced men's volleyball's streak to three straight Male Intercollegiate Scholar Athlete of the Year honorees. Recently, Medina was named a Golden State Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete and is one of the most successful transfer students to ever come through the athletics department. The setter is also working towards a minor in Business and after graduation plans to attend graduate school for Kinesiology with a focus on Sports Psychology.
Ceballos was named the Male Athlete of the Year and became the first men's soccer player to earn the major honor since Andy Galvan in 2017. The NAIA honorable mention All-American and California Pacific Conference Player of the Year led the Bobcats with 16 goals (1 shy of program-record), good for 23rd in the NAIA and eleventh amongst all underclassmen. Ceballos also had three assists and is one of just six players on the West Coast to tally at least 35 points this year. The Lindsay, Calif., native scored in bunches while averaging just 3.18 shots per game. However, a team best 1.77 of those shots per game were on target. On October 3, Ceballos tied the program's single-game record with four goals against Providence Christian College. On October 10, the rising junior started a five-game scoring streak in which he totaled eight goals and an assist. The Bobcats won all five of those games and overall he led the Bobcats to a 16-4-2 record and a run to the Round of 16 at the NAIA National Championship Final Site.
Thomas, the fourth women's soccer student athlete to win the Bobcat Award, is known for her passion and spirit, both on the field and off. A four-year forward from Huntington Beach, Calif., Thomas evolved into a captain her senior year and it is very well agreed upon that the team wouldn't have made it as far as it did without her leadership skills. Thomas carried herself professionally no matter what the circumstances were and always put her teammates ahead of her own feelings. At the California Pacific Conference Women's Soccer Championships awards banquet, Thomas was given the Champions of Character award. Off the field, the Mechanical Engineering major is as spirited as they come. Always supporting her fellow student athletes, Thomas's voice can be heard throughout the Joseph Edward Gallo Gymnasium and has been known to lead the charge for other fans to join in on chants and change the game day atmosphere. When she is not playing soccer, working hard in the classroom or being the Bobcats number one fan, Thomas serves as the Events Staff Student Coordinator within the Recreation & Athletics Department. Thomas scored a goal against Cal Pac opponent Sierra Nevada College this past year in a season that saw the Bobcats advance to their third straight championship game.
Belvin is the first ever 3X Georgette "Ma" Kelley Female Athlete of the Year and graduates as UC Merced women's basketball's all-time leading scorer. A couple months ago Belvin was also named the Cal Pac Defensive Player of the Year and a NAIA Third Team All-American, both honors also coming to the senior guard for the third straight year. Belvin averaged a career-high 17.96 points and a program-high 3.43 steals per game while guiding the Bobcats to a sixth straight Cal Pac Tournament berth and fifth straight 15+ win season. The Long Beach, Calif., native's 3.43 steals per game was also good for 4th in the NAIA and it is the highest mark of any Cal Pac player since 2012. Belvin's 17.96 PPG tally is good for second on the program's single-season charts, 3rd this year in the Cal Pac and 20th in the NAIA. Belvin held the second longest double figure scoring streak west of the Mississippi at 25 games and she finished with at least ten points in 27 of 28 games overall. Efficiency wise, the senior shot a career-best 43% (181-423) from the floor this season and ranked second in California by making 78% (90-115) of her free throw attempts.
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