Aaron Champagne, a junior running back on the WPI football team, has been named an ESPN The Magazine "Academic All-American" by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Champagne, who earned second-team accolades, is the first football player to earn the prestigious Academic All-American honor in the 120 years the sport has been played at WPI (overall, this is the 30th time a WPI student-athlete has earned the award). He is one of eight players on the team of 48 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Champagne was honored in the College Division, which is comprised of NCAA Division II and III, NAIA and junior college programs nationwide.
A two-year starter at running back, Champagne led the WPI Engineers this fall with 448 yards rushing. With seven touchdowns, he was also tied for second-place on the team for the most points scored. In addition, Champagne added 13 pass receptions for 101 yards; he has also proven his versatility by serving as a key punt and kickoff returner throughout the year.
"One of the best parts about coaching a Division III football team at a university with the academic caliber of WPI is that you have the opportunity to work with players who are stars on the gridiron and in the classroom," said Ed Zaloom, head coach for the WPI Engineers football program. "Every once in a great while you have the opportunity to work with a player with Aaron Champagne's rare combination of talents, and there’s nothing more gratifying. The entire WPI athletics community is delighted and proud of this young man's accomplishments, and we can’t wait to see what comes next for him."
Champagne, a native of Fairfield, Maine, is a civil engineering major and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is also a two-time member of the Liberty League All-Academic team and is a Charles O. Thompson Scholar, an honor that recognizes outstanding performance by first-year students at WPI.
Five other WPI players also earned All-District honors from CoSIDA, presented by ESPN The Magazine:
- Rens Hayes, senior civil and environmental engineering major, was a first-team selection for soccer. Hayes anchored a stellar WPI defense that ranked third in the NEWMAC in goals allowed. A tri-captain, Hayes is a two-time All-NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men's Athletic Conference) academic selection.
Paul Moan, a junior civil and environmental engineering major with a 4.0 GPA, was also a first-team soccer selection. As goalkeeper, Moan went 7-7-1; he has tallied 11 career victories.
- Rebecca Holmberg, a senior biomedical engineering major with a 3.71 GPA, was a first-team selection for volleyball -- an honor she has now earned two years in a row. This fall, Holmberg had a breakout season, finishing second on the team in both kills (215) and digs (344); she was instrumental in helping the Engineers achieve a 22-8 record.
- Hailey Taylor picked up second-team honors for soccer. A sophomore, Taylor majors in chemical engineering and has a 4.0 GPA. This fall, she achieved a team-best seven assists.
- Kristen Garza, a junior majoring in management information systems with a minor in computer science, earned third-team honors in soccer. Garza scored 13 times this fall and already holds the WPI career goal scoring mark with 38 goals. A star on the field and in the classroom, Garza has a 3.72 GPA.