May 28, 2014
Link: Minnesota's Big Ten Medal of Honor Winners
Link: B1G Medal of Honor Memories: Bill Baker
Link: B1G Medal of Honor Memories: Jayson Ness
Link: B1G Medal of Honor Memories: John Roethlisberger
Link: B1G Medal of Honor Memories: Carol Ann (Shudlick) Smith
Link: B1G Medal of Honor Memories: Rochele (Goetz) Williams
The Big Ten is celebrating 100 years of the Medal of Honor in 2014. Minnesota will announce its 2014 male and female winners on June 4. Until then, we will look back at some previous student-athletes who were bestowed with the Big Ten Medal of Honor, which is one of the most prestigious conference awards in college athletics. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.” It was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics and was acclaimed throughout the nation, and in particular by the NCAA “as one of the significant gestures yet made in college sports.”
Matt Nohelty was a member of the Golden Gopher baseball team from 2005 to 2009. On the field, he earned All-Big Ten acclaim all four years he played, including First-Team honors in 2007 and 2008. Nohelty’s career batting average of .366 still ranks tied for eighth in program history. He hit .397 as a junior outfielder. His senior season, he led the Big Ten in runs scored with 69 and was second in stolen bases with 26. Nohelty was an all-around student-athlete, making the Academic All-America First Team twice after being named to the Third Team as a sophomore. He was a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award nominee and a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Nohelty was selected twice in the Major League Baseball Draft.
GopherSports: What did it mean to you to win the Big Ten Medal of Honor?
Matt Nohelty: It was an amazing experience. This list of previous winners is full of extremely accomplished student athletes and to be in their company was quite a humbling experience. The Big Ten Medal of Honor represents success both on the field and in the classroom. Just like all student athletes, I put a lot of work into both so receiving this recognition meant a lot.
GS: In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor, you were also an Academic All-American twice. Where do both of those honors rank for you among your on- and off-field accomplishments?
MN: The Big Ten Medal of Honor and Academic All-American awards are right near the top. I'll always remember the tough practices, difficult exams and exciting moments on the field more than the awards I received afterwards, but these two recognitions in particular are pretty special. I called the University of Minnesota home for five years and to receive the the Big Ten Medal of Honor during my final year was a great way to finish my college career. It represents a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of fun to think back on all the moments that went into it.
MN: I had an amazing college experience and learned a lot from my successes, failures and the challenges I was presented with, and couldn't have asked for a better group of people to be surrounded by along the way. The University of Minnesota Baseball coaching staff is second to none at any school in any sport. A huge amount of my success after baseball can be directly attributed to the lessons learned and guidance I received from these coaches. I obviously learned a tremendous amount about the game of baseball but I also learned the tools of success in everyday life: hard work, mental toughness, preparation and perspective.
GS: You were on a few teams that made the NCAA Regional. What are some of your favorite memories from your Gopher baseball career?
MN: My favorite memory was probably the LSU Regional my senior year. It was a great environment for college baseball and a great place to play my final games as a Gopher. Another highlight was playing in Coach Anderson's 1,000th win. The Gopher Baseball program has great history and tradition and that game was a big milestone for the program so I'm very proud to have been a part of that.
GS: What are you most proud of about your on-field accomplishments in baseball?
MN: We were extremely close to winning a Big Ten Championship quite a few times. I would have loved to get one of those but honestly, I'm most proud of how our team bounced back after a tough season my junior year. We ran into quite a bit of adversity that season and it was rough experience for all of us but we got together after the season and made a promise that next year would be different. The next season we finished second in both the Big Ten regular season and Big Ten Tournament and made a good run in the NCAA Regional where we lost in the championship game to LSU (who went on to with the National Championship).
GS: What are you up to now?
MN: After college, I married my longtime girlfriend, Kelly. We now live in Eagan, Minnesota. I currently work as a Lead Software Engineer at Thomson Reuters and just finished a Master's Degree in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota.
GS: Do you still follow the Gopher baseball team and other Big Ten sports?
MN: Absolutely. I'm a very proud Gopher alum and will always follow the Gopher teams, especially the baseball team. I get together with guys I played with quite a bit and we are always talking about the current Gopher squad.
GS: What advice would you give to current Minnesota student-athletes?
MN: Work hard on and off the field but make sure you enjoy it along the way. Playing a sport at the University of Minnesota is a special experience and not many people have that opportunity. I look back on my time at the U of M and it's amazing how fast it went. Obviously the big games were a highlight of my college experience and I'll never forget those great moments on the field. However, I miss the little things the most like hanging out with the guys in the locker room during a rain delay or playing cards after the game at the hotel. Some days you have the chance to get better on the practice field, other days you're playing to win a Big Ten championship, and other days you get to relax and spend time with friends. Every day is an opportunity to do something, so make the most of each and every one.
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