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UC Merced Names Student-Athlete Award After U.S. Soccer Icon

April 27, 2009

UC Merced Athletics Bobcat LogoMERCED - UC Merced has
renamed its male athlete award after U.S. soccer icon and retired
Los Angeles Galaxy star Cobi Jones, who currently serves as
assistant coach for the team. Jones has made significant
contributions to the UC Merced as a member of the

Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Intercollegiate
, which earlier this week released its recommendations
for the creation of an intercollegiate sports program at the public
research university.

The Cobi Jones Male Athlete of the Year award will be presented
annually to a UC Merced student-athlete who:

  • Excels at leadership both in the classroom and on the field of competition;
  • Demonstrates academic success;
  • Exemplifies commitment to campus and public service;
  • Has made significant contributions to his team’s competitive
    success; and
  • Models a commitment to sportsmanship at all times.

“When thinking of the professional athlete who best exemplifies
the criteria for this award, Cobi Jones was first in our minds,”
said David Dunham, director of
recreation and
at UC Merced. “His selfless gift of time and energy in
helping us to develop a strategic athletics plan and guidance in
creating a summer youth soccer camp show that he is a mentor to
both scholars and athletes.”

A 2002 UCLA Hall of Fame honoree, Jones has consistently served
as an ambassador for the Los Angeles Galaxy and U.S. soccer. He has
been an active participant in the Galaxy’s outreach efforts,
visiting schools, hospitals and working with public officials. He
was just inducted into the CAL South Hall of Fame and works
tirelessly with America SCORES, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and
AYSO. Outside of the soccer world, Jones is working with Let Them
Play, a national nonprofit focused on giving every child the
opportunity to play organized sports, and Heart of L.A., which
offers inner-city youth programs in academics, arts and athletics.

The winner of this year’s Cobi Jones Male Athlete of the Year
award is baseball player

Michael Oliveira
of Hilmar, Calif.

bioengineeringmajor led
the charge to create an athletics program at UC Merced shortly
after enrolling as a freshman in 2005. The

baseball club team
, which he helped to create in 2007, was the
first sports team on campus.

“He’s a solid baseball player who’s also focused on academics,
Dunham said of the 22-year-old graduating
senior. “He has really
been the driving force behind Bobcat baseball.”

No slouch in the classroom, Oliveira was also a finalist in the
university’s annual student

research poster competition
, which took place early this month.

Oliveira received his athletics award at the Spring Leadership
Awards Banquet on Friday, April 24. Though Jones’ coaching schedule
didn’t allow for him to attend the awards banquet, he recorded
congratulatory remarks when he was on campus Wednesday for the
release of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report.

“Athletes are not one-dimensional individuals,” Jones said. “The
best of the best are those who work hard, play hard and devote
their time to making a positive difference in the world around them.”

The Golden Bobcats’ current athletics program revolves around
club sports, which include: archery, badminton, baseball, dance,
cheer, lacrosse, soccer, softball, table tennis, tennis, volleyball
and ultimate Frisbee.

For information:


Tonya Luiz