Bakero Claims Senior CLASS Award
Dec. 8, 2017
Wake Forest Athletic Communications (@WakeMSoccer)
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Wake Forest senior forward was named the Senior CLASS Award winner in Division I men's soccer, the organization announced on Friday.
The Demon Deacons are just the second program to win the award in back-to-back years after Jacori Hayes earned the honor last year. Ohio State claimed it in 2014 and 2015.
The award, chosen by a vote of Division I men’s soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I men’s soccer. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award—presented annually in 10 NCAA sports—focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Bakero is the third overall Wake Forest student-athlete to win the Senior CLASS Award behind Hayes and Sam Cronin in 2008 - all from the men's soccer program.
“I am very honored to win the Senior CLASS Award,” Bakero said. “You come into Wake Forest as a freshman and you see the captains we had—Sam Fink, Michael Gamble, Ian Harkes, Jacori Hayes—and you want to be like them. When they left, we had to fill those shoes. I was lucky enough to get that opportunity and play for a great team alongside some other great seniors and all of our great teammates. It's been an unbelievable joy to experience this. Every day I'm just thankful for every opportunity I have to be out here and get better as a player and as a person.”
Bakero leads the nation with 46 points - eight ahead of the next-closest competitor. He's the first player in the nation to record at least 16 goals and 14 assists in a season since Coastal Carolina's Joseph Ngwenya in 2003. A semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Bakero ranks in the top 10 in program history in points, goals and assists in both a season and career.
“Jon is a man of tremendous character, and he's one of the most successful players on the field, but one of the most humble players I've ever coached off the field,” head coach Bobby Muuss said. “He always wants to do right by his teammates, his coaching staff, his university and the department. The way he embraces the fans and the way the fans embrace him, it's something special. This award embodies not just your play on the field, but also your character, your community service and your academics. Here's a young man who came from Spain three and a half years ago with broken English. Now, he's doing extremely well in school and a role model both on and off the field. I speak on behalf of the entire program when I say how proud I am of him and how he represents Wake Forest soccer.”
Off the field, Bakero has been equally impressive. A member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll and Athletic Director's Honor Roll, Bakero served as a team captain this year and was also active in the community. He has taken the lead in Wake Forest's partnership with Team IMPACT, taking the newest Deacon, Asher McGarrah - who has battled Chronic Myeloid Leukemia - under his wing. Bakero has also worked with Habitat for Humanity, Help Our People Eat, the 3-2-1 Deacon Dash for Down Syndrome, and much more.
“I just try to be myself—to enjoy every day, enjoy every opportunity that God gives me to be here,” said Bakero. “Sometimes it seems like we're giving back to the community, but what we get back from the community is much bigger than that. The Winston-Salem community welcomed me with open arms when I got here and every chance I have to give back, I do it.”
“It’s a privilege to honor an outstanding student-athlete like Jon Bakero,” said Senior CLASS Award Executive Director Erik Miner. “What he’s done in all four areas—classroom, character, community and competition—is truly impressive and should be inspirational to other collegiate athletes. We offer our sincere congratulations to Jon, his team and the entire university.”
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