June 11, 2009
Center Valley, PA - The Patriot League has selected one male and one female as its Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2008-09 academic year, with Lehigh taking both honors as recent graduates Melissa Rich (women's basketball) and Geoff Campbell (baseball) were chosen in a vote by the League's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The Patriot League Sportsmanship Awards are in their fourth year after being created to honor student-athletes that uphold the principles on which the League was founded - fairness, equality and excellence in academics and athletics. The awards are open to all Patriot League student-athletes, with one male and one female selected. Each of the eight Patriot League institutions is eligible to nominate a male and female for the award.
Rich was successful in the classroom and on the court at Lehigh, and always did it with an upbeat and positive attitude. She would often help an opponent up after being fouled and was known as "mom" to her coaches and teammates for always working hard and doing whatever necessary to help the team. Even as her role on the team changed, Rich was a leader for the Mountain Hawks and used her teaching ability to help her teammates become successful. She emerged as an outstanding bench player and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team as Lehigh won the 2009 Patriot League Championship.
Rich was just as helpful in her off the court activities, as she was heavily involved with Lehigh's Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping (C.O.A.C.H.) program and also volunteered at the children's ward at St. Luke's Hospital, ran a free basketball clinic for children and recruited her team to help with the Victory House Dinner, a shelter that provides meals to homeless men in Bethlehem.
Rich becomes the first Lehigh student-athlete to win the Patriot League Female Sportsmanship Award.
A co-captain of the Mountain Hawk baseball team, Campbell's on-field behavior was often commended by opponents and umpires alike. Head Coach Sean Leary stated that Campbell showed how to "play the game right", and never argued with an umpire while displaying respect for the opposition. Campbell's demeanor earned so much respect from around the League that the umpires all presented him with a signed scorecard as a memento for his last game at Lehigh.
Campbell was a leader off the field as well, as he has served as a Student-Athlete Mentor representative for two years and a leader in Lehigh's Student-Athlete Council during the past academic year.
Campbell continues the run of Lehigh student-athletes to win the Patriot League Male Sportsmanship Award, as the Mountain Hawks have claimed all four honors after Joe Knight (Men's Basketball, 2005-06), Arthur "Robbie" Walsh (Men's Lacrosse, 2006-07) and Bryan White (Men's Basketball, 2007-08) took the first three awards.
Rich and Campbell will now be forwarded on to the NCAA to be considered for the national sportsmanship honor.