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Courtesy: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Soza one of five finalists for Coach John Wooden Citizenship Cup Award

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics
Release: 04/23/2013
Courtesy UTSA Athletics
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ATLANTA, Ga. — Eric Soza is one of five finalists for the Ninth Annual Coach John Wooden Citizenship Cup Award and the winner will be announced on Tuesday night in a ceremony in Atlanta, Ga.

Joining UTSA's senior quarterback as finalists for the prestigious award are Arizona's Brigetta Barrett (women's track & field), Arkansas' Nathanael Franks (men's track & field), North Carolina's Meghan Lyons (field hockey) and Purdue's Andrea Mingo (women's basketball).

The 2013 Collegiate Wooden Cup recipient, which is presented annually to the student-athlete who is the most outstanding role model that has made the greatest positive influence in the lives of others, is presented by Athletes for a Better World (ABW).

"It's an honor to be a finalist for such a prestigious award and to be mentioned in the same breath as John Wooden is amazing," Soza said. "He is the greatest coach in the history of collegiate athletics and I try to emulate everything he stood for in my life, both on and off the field. I'm looking forward to an exciting two days in Atlanta and I want to thank Athletes for a Better World and the award committee for giving me the opportunity to experience it with the other four finalists."

Jack Nicklaus, regarded as the greatest golfer in the history of the game, also will be honored for the positive influence he has had on the game of golf and countless individuals who have admired him, as well as for the numerous ways he has contributed to improve the lives of others.

Soza, a two-year team captain, has started under center 20 times in UTSA's first two seasons. The Beeville native has led the Roadrunners to 12 wins during that time as they have made the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Western Athletic Conference. In November, he was named one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award.

Soza has been just as impressive away from the playing field. He is an active member of UTSA's community service program in addition to serving as the president of the school's student-athlete advisory committee. Soza also maintains a near-perfect grade-point average (3.95) in kinesiology.

John Wooden, who won 10 National Championships from 1964-75 as the head men's basketball coach at UCLA, is regarded as the greatest college coach of any sport. He is universally regarded as one of the finest human beings to ever grace the world of sports and his character, conduct and selfless gifts stand at the highest level by any standard. When Coach Wooden learned about Athletes for a Better World, he gave authorization to attach his name to this annual award and attended and addressed the inaugural event in Los Angeles back in 2005. In his honor, the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup is presented to two distinguished athletes, one collegiate and one professional, for their character and leadership both on and off the field and for their contributions to sport and society.

With Mia Hamm, John Lynch, Peyton Manning, Dikembe Mutombo, Cal Ripken, Jr., John Smoltz, Pat Summitt and Andrea Yaeger as previous recipients, the Wooden Cup is becoming one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports. Recipients are considered role models and athletes of excellence both on and off the field.

Founded by ABW, a non-profit organization committed to changing the culture of American sports, the Wooden Cup is unique in that it is open to athletes in all collegiate and professional sports. Nominations are open to every division and conference in college sports.

Recipients of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup are chosen by a committee chaired by former Georgia Athletics Director Vincent Dooley and other distinguished individuals involved in athletics across the country.

About Athletes for a Better World
Founded in 1998, Athletes for a Better World (ABW) exists to change the culture of sport by developing individual character, teamwork and civic responsibility through commitment to "The Code for Living." ABW’s vision is to have the Code become a part of every sport at every level, so that it becomes the common language and standard expectation of behavior for everyone. ABW provides free support and resources to coaches and athletes across the country that want to teach and live out these values. “The Code for Living” can be found on playing fields, locker rooms and athletics facilities across the country. Currently, ABW players and coaches are represented in every state and several foreign countries.

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