Pushing herself both on the field and in the classroom has paid off for women’s soccer senior defender Bailey Brandon.
Brandon is the Dick Enberg Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2011-12 academic year; an award recognizing a junior for success as a student, athlete and leader.
“It feels awesome, and it’s a great honor,” Brandon said. “It’s always nice to be recognized. It’s nice to bring that recognition to the CMU soccer team as well.”
The award is named in honor of Dick Enberg, a Central Michigan University alum and sports broadcaster whose resume includes working for CBS, NBC and ESPN. Recipients of the award are required to have maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 and excelled in their sport as both a player and team leader.
Brandon is the second women’s soccer player to earn the award in its six-year history, following former goalkeeper Shay Mannino’s award in 2010. The soccer team is the first to produce multiple winners for the award.
Brandon, a law and economics major boasting a 3.94 GPA, said it’s no piece of cake to balance school and soccer.
“It’s definitely an everyday struggle, and it’s not easy,” she said. “I take advantage of every spare minute and opportunity I get to work. I know it’s school first, soccer second.”
Bailey said the mentality of school as a number-one priority was instilled in her from the very beginning of her career as a Chippewa by former head coach Tom Anagnost and continues to be stressed by head coach Neil Stafford.
Stafford said education should be the main focus so Brandon and her teammates can go on to be strong, independent and successful women after college.
Bailey has hit the ground running ever since arriving at CMU in 2009, Stafford said.
“It’s her personality; it drives her on and makes her the person she is today. Truly, she’s a bit of a perfectionist in some ways,” Stafford said. “She completes one thing, then she’s on to the next. She never slows down, and that’s why she’s had a very successful career here so far. In many ways, I could see her being a future hall of famer.”
Brandon was named MAC freshman of the year in 2009, is a three-time All Mid-American Conference honoree and was a first-team NSCAA Great Lakes Region selection. She has three career goals, her most recent in this year’s game against Toledo.
Brandon will be recognized in CMU’s game against Miami (Ohio) at 4:30 p.m. Friday and also on Nov. 3 when the football team takes on Western Michigan.