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Boggs wins Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year

South Florida men’s soccer forward Zak Boggs added another trophy to his mantel after being named the 2008-2009 Big East Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Friday — the conference’s most prestigious academic honor.

The award, voted on by the Big East Academic Affairs Committee, is given to the top academic male performer throughout all sports in the Big East conference. This is the first time a USF athlete has won the award.

“It’s pretty great,” Boggs said. “All the male athletes in every sport — it’s pretty hard to fathom how many athletes there are.  There’s like 300 male athletes at USF alone, it’s pretty amazing.”

For winning the award, Boggs will receive $4,000 in scholarships that can be used toward graduate or professional studies. He recently completed his biomedical science degree — earning a 4.0 GPA — and is working towards a master’s in economics.

Boggs, a junior, serves as a tutor at USF and volunteers at the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. He’s also a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a member of the National Eagle Scout Association and the USA Jump Rope Association.

Boggs said he takes pride in his ability to balance school with extracurricular activities.

“I don’t know, just working hard, sticking with tasks and keeping goals,” he said. “I guess I’m naturally-born for working hard.”

There are 16 schools in the Big East, each with more than 250 student-athletes.

“If you work hard and have persistence, you can achieve anything,” said Boggs’ mother, Rochelle. “You don’t really work toward awards, you work toward personal goals. If it’s meant to be, the awards will come. “

Boggs’ mother said it was a well-deserved award, though.

 “He set out to do well in school and has put himself in a position to do whatever he wants to do and go wherever he wants to go,” she said. “(This award) is kind of like the icing on the cake.”

Under seventh-year coach George Kiefer, USF won its first Big East championship in school history and made a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Boggs was second on the team in scoring (5) and had four game-winning goals last season.

Boggs was a third-team all-Big East selection and an all-Big East tournament selection.

“This award is so much sweeter because we won the Big East,” Boggs said.  “A lot goes to the team, too.”

Even with all his success off the field, Boggs said soccer will remain his ultimate priority.

“Down the line, I want to keep playing soccer,” he said.