WALTHAM, Mass – Five members of Brandeis University teams have been named to the University Athletic Association (UAA) President's Council Scholar-Athlete Team for their efforts on and off the fields and courts for the 2019-20 academic year. To achieve this recognition, a student-athlete must earn first team All-Association honors and must carry a 3.50 or greater cumulative grade point average during that playing season.
David Aizenberg '20 of Highland Park, Illinois, earned the award for the first time. Aizenberg, who was named an Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American for the first time in his career in both singles and doubles, finished with six career All-UAA honors – four in doubles and two in singles. Aizenberg was ranked 17th in Division III in singles and eighth nationally in doubles. He graduated with 102 career victories in singles and doubles despite missing the equivalent of one full year due to study-abroad as a junior and COVID-19 as a senior. This is his first spot on the President's Council team. He posted a 3.50 GPA as a Business and American Studies major.
Lauren Bertsch '21 of Middletown, Rhode Island, was honored for women's tennis for the second time in her career. Bertsch was a team captain as a junior, helping the Judges to a seventh-place finish at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Indoor National Championships. That included a pair of wins at singles and doubles against host Centre College in the seventh-place match. Bertsch was named All-UAA for the third time in her career. She enters 2020-21 with a 3.71 GPA as a Health: Science, Society and Policy major.
Pitcher Sydney Goldman '22 of Sherman Oaks, California, earned her first President's Council team bid for the softball team. She went 2-1 in the circle with two complete games and 21 total innings pitched, striking out 16. Her 5.33 strikeouts per seven innings were fourth-best in the UAA. The Judges posted a 3-3 record in their shortened season. Goldman owns a 3.63 GPA as a Health: Science, Society and Policy major with a minor in Hispanic Studies.
Goldman's teammate, outfielder Melissa Rothenberg '21 of Lawenceville, New Jersey, was also recognized for the first time with the President's Council Award. In six games, Rothenberg hit .300 with two doubles and two home runs for a .700 slugging percentage. She finished second in the UAA in homers and fifth in slugging, hitting safely in all six contests. It was also her first All-UAA selection. Rothenberg carries a 3.51 GPA as a Economics, Business and Environmental Studies triple major.
Adam Tzeng '22 of men's tennis rounds out the Judges' selections to the President's Council team with his first career selection in his first year of eligibility for the award. The 2019 UAA men's tennis Rookie of the Year, he was an All-UAA selection at #2 doubles and #3 singles, posting a 6-3 record in the former and 6-5 in the latter. Tzeng boasts a 3.54 GPA as a Computer Science major.
The Judges were five out of a record 142 recipients of the UAA President's Council Scholar-Athlete team. Out of this year's honorees, 17 were named the most outstanding performer or most valuable player in their sport by their respective UAA coaches' group, with six spring sports not selecting those awards due to COVID-19. This select group of scholar-athletes represents approximately 53% of the eligible All-Association first team honorees for 2019-20.
The UAA Presidents Council created this special recognition in 2009. The original recommendation to establish this honor came from the UAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was supported by the Athletic Administrators and Delegates Committees.
The UAA has recognized exceptional academic achievement by its student-athletes since 1998 when the Presidents Council established a program of All-Academic recognition for student-athletes who carry a cumulative grade point average that meets the threshold for Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-America® recognition (currently a 3.30 GPA). On average, approximately 56% of eligible sophomore, junior, and senior student-athletes from UAA member teams have met that threshold each year. "While our student-athletes appreciated the All-Academic recognition, they sought something that would more directly recognize the combination of academic and athletic excellence that is at the core of the UAA philosophy," commented UAA Executive Director Dick Rasmussen. "In proposing the concept of the award, one of our SAAC members suggested — 'as UAA student-athletes this is what we do, this is who we are.'"
As a group, UAA student-athletes and teams have consistently demonstrated high levels of both academic and athletic achievement. The UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete Team recognition demonstrates the success of these principles at the level of the individual student-athlete.
Biennial studies completed by the Association over the last 15 years have consistently shown that the cumulative grade point averages of athletic teams have been statistically equal to the general campus population GPA. In the most recent study, covering the 2016-17 academic year, 50 percent of all women's and all men's teams across the UAA had average cumulative GPA's equal to or higher than the overall average for their respective campuses. Of the 68 women's teams and 70 men's teams included in the study, 60 women's teams (88 percent) and 49 men's teams (70 percent) met or exceeded the 3.30 GPA standard for nominating individuals for Academic All-America recognition.