Concordia Places 3rd in First Annual NCAA Division II Award Of Excellence

Photo Courtesy of Christopher McKibben
Photo Courtesy of Christopher McKibben

SAN DIEGO – The Concordia College Department of Athletics and the men's basketball program are proud to announce that the 4th Annual Jimmy Sayegh Game and the signing of Eli, thanks in part to Team IMPACT, have been recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the NCAA Division II Business Session on Saturday morning. The NCAA announced that Concordia placed 3rd overall in the nation for the award out of 26 finalists.

The Division II Award of Excellence combines the two Division II identity awards previously recognizing community engagement and game environment.

Ivan Marquez, Director of Athletics at Concordia and a seven year survivor, was personally overjoyed. "On behalf of Jimmy Sayegh, his mother, his family, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Concordia NY Athletics, we thank Jill Wilson and the wonderful folks at the NCAA for this amazing recognition. We have carried the Jimmy Game legacy for four years now and with each coming year are committed to making it increasingly worthy of maximizing awareness for cancer research. This fourth year we have been proud to welcome a terrific young man, Eli, to our program. We thank Amy Resnick and Team Impact for their inspiring work and bringing Eli to us; we plan to provide nothing but the best environment for Eli. I am absolutely certain that each and every one of us knows someone who has cancer, including oneself. It is our continued quest that on behalf of Jimmy, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Concordia NY Athletics, we challenge each and everyone to contribute to generate the amount of money required to defeat all cancer."

In November the men's basketball team participated in the 4th Annual Jimmy Sayegh Game against Southern Conn. St. The evening honored Jimmy as well as introduced the Clippers' newest player, Eli. Prior to tipoff Concordia dedicated the game to the mother of Jimmy Sayegh. Jimmy's life was cut too short when he lost his battle with cancer in the spring of 2010.

Also during the night the entire community was introduced to six-year old Eli, the newest teammate to the men's basketball team. Eli was given a #1 jersey as head coach Brian Sondey introduced him to a packed house. Eli was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common form of pediatric blood cancer. Team IMPACT, an organization that helps place children battling illness with college athletic programs, fostered a bond between Eli's family and the Clippers' program.

"As a program we are very honored by the recognition we received today from the NCAA," stated Sondey. "I am also very proud of our players, and the entire athletic department as we have truly embraced Jimmy Sayegh Night and our ongoing relationship with Eli to make both truly special."

With the recognition of a third place finish by the NCAA, Concordia has won $1,000 to use in future community engagement events. With the monetary help from the NCAA the Department of Athletics plans to build upon the event each year to bring more awareness across the country.