June 13, 2008
Siena College junior outfielder Nick Messinger (Norton, Mass./Bishop Feehan) has been nominated for the 2008 NCAA Sportsmanship Awards, according to a release furnished by the MAAC office. Messinger was chosen by the league after each member institution submitted a nomination. The award honors student-athletes who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
Messinger advances to the national Division I ballot which includes one male and one female representative from each of the NCAA's 31 conferences. The NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct will make the final selection, first limiting the pool to one male and one female student-athlete from each of the three NCAA divisions (six total) and then selecting one male and one female from those six finalists as the NCAA Sportsmanship Award winners.
Messinger has demonstrated superlative sportsmanship and ethical behavior throughout his playing career at Siena, following closely the ideals of Siena's founding Franciscan Tradition. Messinger was a Second Team All-MAAC selection this past season as a junior outfielder for the Saints, batting .319 with four home runs, 34 RBI and 38 runs scored. He was one of only two players to appear in all 56 games for a Siena team that reached the MAAC Championship Game. Academically, he posted a 3.2 GPA during the 2007-2008 academic year as a sociology major.
Messinger's sportsmanship is on display on a daily basis. He exhibits great respect for his teammates, coaching staff and competition. He has taken the lead role in assuring that the game is played with integrity and compassion.
Additionally, Messinger has fostered a relationship with recent Siena alumnus Michael Potter who is wheelchair bound with Cerebral Palsy. He makes sure that Michael has a way to attend each game, and that a place is set aside for him next to the Siena dugout. Prior to many at bats, Messinger talks with Michael and lets him know how much it means to him that he is at the game. The relationship extends off the field, as Messinger regularly visits Potter in his Ballston Spa home.
Messinger's genuine care and civility toward Potter is reflected in his actions on the playing field. He always encourages his teammates to understand how fortunate they are to be playing a game they love and to keep their priorities in order. Many of his teammates have embraced this philosophy and followed his quiet, but powerful example. They recently named him captain for the 2009 season.
The expectations Messinger sets for himself far extend success on the diamond, as he realizes the true meaning of the term student-athlete and is committed to playing out his collegiate career as the best possible person he can be.
In addition to his relationship with Potter, which has helped add an outlet and a sense of belonging to his wheelchair bound friend, Messinger is one of Siena's most active student-athletes in terms of community service. Messinger's volunteerism began when he earned the distinction of Eagle Scout for the Boy Scouts of America in 2003 - an organization he remains actively involved with to this day.
In his Norton, Mass. community, Messinger served three years as a Big Brother at his high school Bishop Feehan, while also working for Bishop Feehan Peer Ministry and as a sport camp counselor (basketball, baseball and football). Messinger has volunteered many hours through his local church, serving on the Christian Life Community Youth Group and as a Eucharistic Minister assistant. For the past five years he has been a volunteer and organizer for the Sarah Pellon/Paula Q. Smith Memorial Scholarship Road Race.
At Siena, Messinger's community outreach projects have expanded to include the athletic department's Saints in the Community program, where he has played a lead role. Through Saints in the Community, Messinger is a regular volunteer for the St. Casmir Wednesday program, serving as a physical education instructor with other student-athletes for the students of the Arbor Hill Elementary school who come on campus because their school does not have a gymnasium. Messinger has also worked with his teammates for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, preparing a meal for the families of hospital-bound children and visiting the Family Room at Albany Medical Center.
It is the second straight year Siena has received the MAAC's male sportsmanship nomination. Last year, soccer midfielder Liam Welsh '08 was the nominee.