May 30, 2014
Northwestern Medal of Honor All-Time Winners
EVANSTON, Ill. - On Tuesday, June 3, Northwestern will unveil the school's 2014 winners of the Big Ten Medal Of Honor. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Conference's most prestigious award, which was first presented in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work. Big Ten schools currently feature more than 8,200 student-athletes, but only 24 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction.
In preparation for Tuesday's announcement, NUsports.com caught up with several former Wildcats winners and asked what it meant to them to be part of this exclusive group of Big Ten Conference student-athletes. Today we catch up with two-time All-Big Ten men's soccer selection and 2011 Medal of Honor recipient Matt Eliason.
Name: Matt Eliason
Graduation year: 2011
College major: Communication Studies
Current location: Reykjavik, Iceland
Current occupation: Soccer Player for Thróttur Reykjavik
In three paragraphs or less, tell us what you've been up to since you left Evanston:
After graduation, I attended the MLS combine in hopes of getting picked up by a Major League Soccer team, but suffered an untimely foot fracture that momentarily ended my professional soccer ambitions.
The next year and a half I spent working as an Assistant Vice President at GE Capital in the Corporate Finance business. Last July, I was fortunate to play in a friendly soccer match with international soccer star Lionel Messi along with a few of my former Northwestern teammates. After scoring two goals for the 'World Team' in the match, I was offered a trial opportunity with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. I played in 2 reserve games for the Red Bulls, but was not offered a contract with the first team.
Shortly after, I was offered a contract by Throttur Reykjavik, a soccer team in Reykjavik, Iceland. I am currently living in Reykjavik in the middle of my first season in the Icelandic soccer league.
What was your personal athletic highlight during your time at Northwestern?
Beating Akron 1-0 in the sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament my sophomore year. We were huge underdogs against a team that now has 12 professional soccer players, but we still found a way to work as a team and come out with a victory.
What is your favorite Northwestern sports memory as a spectator (either while you were in school or since)?
Watching the Northwestern men's soccer team win the BIg Ten Championship for the first time in the school's history.
What does the Big Ten Medal Of Honor mean to you?
It was a tremendous honor to receive the award. To be honest, it was an honor just to be apart of the Northwestern student-athlete population. There are so many impressive individuals that exemplify the dedication and work ethic that is necessary to attend such a prestigious university, I was blown away that I could be considered to receive an award like the BIg Ten Medal of Honor. There were lots of other well-qualified individuals that could have also received the award for my class.
What is your favorite non-sports memory of your time at Northwestern?
Graduating in 2011 with my family watching in the stands of the football stadium, after listening to Stephen Colbert give the commencement speech.
Is there a person you met at Northwestern (teacher, coach, roommate, etc) that had a sizable effect on you as a person?
All of my teammates on the soccer team, throughout my four years at NU, were who made my experience so special and memorable.
In your opinion, what makes Northwestern University special?
The people and the relationships that you are able to make during your time at the school. Also, the prestige of attending Northwestern opens so many doors once you make your way into the post-graduate world.
When was the last time you were on campus?
January 2014, visiting the soccer team at one of their winter practices.
How much purple is in your closet?
Probably too much.
Anything else you would like to add?
The amazing experience I had at Northwestern and the lessons I learned while attending school is something I take with me everywhere I go.
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